gary clouse

Keeping bass alive

Nothing breaks an angler’s heart more than to lift the livewell and find dead bass.

Sometimes it can be a matter of a fish that was hooked deeply or simply expired due to natural causes. That happens.

More often than not, however, it’s due to angler negligence in how he managed those fish in the livewell.

As a pro angler, the health of every fish in my livewell is a top priority. And as the manufacturer of Phoenix Boats, a functioning livewell is a critical element of bass boat design.

But you, as the angler, are responsible for the fish you put in your livewell. You should keep them healthy and ensure their survival.

I sure do. I am constantly raising the lid checking the condition of the fish and making adjustments in my care throughout the day.

When I catch a fish, I fill my livewell and put the controls on manual until the livewell is full, then I switch it to auto. I then flip the recirculation feature to manual and let them both run.

On the Phoenix Boat, we have the T-H Marine Max Air feature that shoots air bubbles into the sides of the livewell. I also have the T-H Marine Oxygenator, an option on Phoenix Boats, that puts pure oxygen into the water and enhances fish survival, even in hot weather.

I still check on the fish often, especially during the postspawn period when fish are already stressed and when the lake water is hot.

I also carry two bags of ice in a soft cooler bag stored in a back storage compartment. When I fill the livewells, I add a half bag of ice and plug the livewell overflow drain.

I have a temperature probe in the livewell that relays water temperature to my Lowrance Electronics, and I watch that constantly. I won’t add fresh water until my monitor shows water temperature approaching 80 degrees. At that point, I will pump out some of the old water, draw in some new, add more ice and knock the water temp down into the low 70s.

I’ve even started using the T-H Marine G Juice Livewell Treatment conditioner that removes impurities from the water.

All of these steps may seem like overkill to some anglers, but it works for me and keeps my fish lively at the weigh-in.

Tournament anglers have an obligation to their sport to not only keep their fish alive but also in good condition when they are released back into the lake.