A matter of life and death

“Plop, plop, fizz, fizz; Oh, what a relief it is” became an iconic phrase in the 1980s for folks with hangovers and needing Alka Seltzer. At the Evan Williams Bourbon St. Lawrence River Showdown the “fizz, fizz” part has become a lifesaver for many of the Elites.

Check that: It’s become a lifesaver for a major portion of the smallmouth caught in this event. The Elites are benefitting from the absence of dead-fish penalties, commonly referred to as “fish-care” penalties.

The smallmouth in the St. Lawrence are being caught from varying depths of 20-feet to 103-feet (Jamie Horton reported catching one at exactly 103-feet deep Friday). At those extreme depths, any fish would succumb to what us mere humans refer to as the bends. There isn’t a known title for what the fish are experiencing, but these professionals have strong feelings on taking care of their fish.

“It’s really important,’’ said Edwin Evers, who is leading the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year Race. “I fizz everyone I catch.”

Fizzing is a simply process of relieving the bladder of air, either through the throat with an elongated tube or with a hypodermic through the fish’s side. In almost every instance, anglers are catching fish, getting them in the boat and immediately fizzing fish, a process that can be seen the photo galleries of Bassmaster.com.

“I feel confident that when I release every one of my fish they are going to live,’’ Evers said.

That’s a nice feeling, considering B.A.S.S. penalizes Elite anglers 4 ounces for every fish they bring to the scales that isn’t breathing. Brent Chapman knows well the cost. On Day One of this event, he lost three fish and incurred a 12-ounce penalty that nearly cost him the cut on Friday.

“I used some weights that were supposed to work,’’ Chapman said. “But they didn’t. Today, I fizzed everyone of them and I didn’t lose any of them.”

Good for Chapman, considering he made the cut by 4 ounces.

But it’s not all dollars and cents for these anglers.

“I don’t want to lose any weight from a dead fish,’’ Davy Hite said. “But then I don’t want to see these fish die, either. Some of these smallmouth are 10 or 12 years old. I don’t want to see a fish like that die. We need to take care of them.”

That is a prevailing thought throughout the Elite field, the old “plop, plop, fizz, fizz” is starting to take on real meaning, rather than just a catchy slogan.

You can learning more about fizzing in the Keeping Bass Alive information here.