Proper handling and care of bass throughout a tournament day will help ensure those fish will remain healthy when returned to the water.
B.A.S.S. prides itself on being a leader in conservation, so B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Director Gene Gilliland offers the following 10 tips to help you keep bass in good shape when competing in a tournament.
Landing and handling
1. Keep bass off the carpet to protect its slime coat. B.A.S.S. discourages boat-flipping fish onto the boat carpet. Instead, grasp the bass’ lower jaw at boat side, or when lifting the fish in by the line, catch the fish before it hits the deck.
2. When the water temperature is below 75 degrees F pump in fresh water at regular intervals to refresh the livewell.
3. When the water temperature is over 75 degrees F pump fresh water continuously and turn on your recirculating pump.
4. When the water temperature is over 80 degrees F use ice and full-time recirculating but do not pump in hot surface water. Cool the water no more than 8 to 10 degrees F below the lake or river temperature. Replace half the livewell water every two to three hours, and then add more ice.
5. Keep both livewells full and divide your catch.
6. Install livewell lid ventilation devices that help cool the water, all fresh air in and keep out harmful CO2.
7. Use new generation non-penetrating culling clips with plastic clamps that stay tight on the bass’ jaw. The clips are fast, secure and don’t require piercing the fish’s mouth. Try Piranha Lock Clips, CalCoast Clip-N-Cull, ProCull Conservation Clips, AccuCull Conservation Clips or the T-H Marine G-Force Culling System.
8. Learn to fizz a bass—and do it in your boat. Fish that suffer with overinflated air bladders for long periods have a lower chance of survival. So don’t wait until the fish are brought to weigh-in to fizz the fish. See a video on how to fizz bass.
Bagging and weighing in
9. Keep your fish in the weigh-in bag while in the waiting line. Avoid the temptation to pull out the big fish to show off to friends and family. Excessive handling leads to increased mortality.
10. While showing off a big bass on stage, hold the fish vertically if it is less than 6 to 7 pounds. Hold larger fish horizontally using two hands to support the fish under the anal fin. This prevents damage to the jaws and ligaments. Don’t swing or shake the fish as you show the crowd. Big fish are much more easily stressed.
“Like” and “Follow” the B.A.S.S. Conservation Facebook group to find out more about fishery management, boating and fishing access, invasive species, habitat, angler ethics, etc.