New weigh-in system keeps fish healthy

HARTFORD, Conn. — The Connecticut B.A.S.S. Federation Nation (CBFN) unveiled its new fish-care system during the group's third tournament of the season, and it performed without a hitch during a big weigh-in. Fishing the Connecticut River in early July, 111 anglers entered 266 bass weighing 462.87 pounds.

David Santos, CBFN's conservation director, researched and designed the system and built it with Alan Guite, the group's tournament director, who also sourced the materials and obtained grants and donations to build the unit. Guite estimates the system cost about $1,250.

It includes four 100-gallon tanks, filled from the tournament waters and treated with Rejuvenade. Tents cover the tanks to keep them cool, and Keep Alive pumps infuse the water with oxygen. It took four people about two and a half hours to set it up the first time, Guite said.

The tanks are standard agricultural tanks he bought at an Agway store, and all the fittings came from home-building supply stores. Guite said experts at Keep Alive provided step-by-step telephone guidance as he and Santos built the system.

At the weigh-in, four boats were able to beach only a few yards from the scale. As anglers brought their catch to be weighed, they were given perforated bags for their fish. They submerged their fish as they as they moved down the line waiting for their catch to be weighed. After being weighed, the bass were placed into a recovery tank before being released back into the river. "We don't have a release boat yet," Guite said, "but that's something we're looking into for the future."

To be certain that the system was properly set up, CBFN consulted Dustin Edwards, a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut's Department of Natural Resource Management and Engineering and a member of the UCONN Student Sub Unit of the American Fisheries Society.

"This is a huge step forward for the Connecticut BA.S.S. Federation Nation," Edwards said.

"Survival of tournament-caught bass is imperative for the sport of competitive fishing to thrive, and this new procedure maximizes bass survival."

Two Junior Bassmaster members, Gianni Roman and Mike Iovino, helped Edwards run the system and release fish. "What great exposure for our Junior Bassmasters," said Bob Malloy, CBFN's president. "It teaches our youth the importance of conservation and that taking care of our resources will help make sure that they last for generations to come."

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