GUIDELINES FOR TOURNAMENT DIRECTORS: KEEPING BASS HEALTHY THROUGH THE WEIGH-IN
Compiled by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation, Fishery Research Lab
1. CONTROL THE NUMBER OF WEIGH-IN BAGS TO CONTROL THE
PACE OF THE WEIGH-IN!
- Keep fish in live wells with aerators running continuously
while waiting for a weigh-in bag.
- Use no more than five bags per twenty contestants (or teams).
- Use reinforced, perforated bags that allow water exchange.
- Weigh in flights if the tournament has over 50 contestants or
2. SET UP WAITING LINE TANKS!
- Set up one 100-gallon tank per 20 contestants or teams.
- Fill with lake water just before weigh-in to prevent heating.
- Cool water 10 degrees below lake temperature with block or
- Aerate tank with recirculating pump or air compressor.
- Add Catch & Release® as directed for volume of tank.
- Contestants dip fresh water from tank into bags while waiting
3. HANDLE FISH AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE!
- Tournament personnel may wear latex or rubber gloves.
- Fish are emptied into plastic laundry basket resting in a
- All baskets are checked and adjusted to weigh the same.
- Fish are checked for length but are not re-bagged.
- Lid is placed on top of fish and basket is weighed.
- Extra baskets are available to weigh individual "big
- Fish are then transported in the basket to next station.
4. THE MIRACLE OF THE SALT DIP!
- Every tournament should have a salt-dip station!
- Mix three pounds of non-iodized salt with fifteen gallons of
water in an aerated sink or tub.
- After fish are weighed, submerge basket of bass in solution
for 10 to 15 seconds. No more!
- Bass may loose equilibrium and roll over, this is a normal
- The salt solution kills bacteria and fungus.
- It stimulates the slime producing cells on the fish' body.
- The salt dip dehydrates the fish by pulling water out through
the skin and gills.
- When the fish is placed back into lake it absorbs fresh water
like a sponge, flushing toxins.
- Drain and refill salt solution after 20-30 baskets of
fish. Have additional salt and water ready.
- Take care with disposal of salt water.
OTHER RELEASE CONSIDERATIONS
1. PRE-RELEASE HOSPITAL TANK
- Large tank similar to waiting line tanks (75 to 100 gallon
- Water is cooled 10 degrees below lake temperature with block
- Non-iodized salt added at a rate of one pound per 25 gallons
- Add amount of Catch & Release® appropriate for volume of
- Supply pure oxygen if possible through air stones or bubble
- All fish are placed in this tank after weighing but before
- Healthy fish are recaptured quickly, salt dipped and
- Use a long handled net with soft, knotless nylon or rubber
- Weak fish are treated longer. After 20-30 min. they are
netted, salt dipped and released.
- Fish showing signs of air bladder overinflation are treated
here (see below).
- Fish judged as dead at weigh-in or too weak to survive are
immediately placed on ice in a cooler.
Caution! - It is very difficult for untrained
workers to distinguish between "healthy" fish
and those that will die days later.
2. AIR BLADDER OVERINFLATION!
- Overinflated air bladders cause erratic swimming, floating on
its side and may stop breathing.
- Not restricted to fish caught from deep water. Stress
can cause this in fish from shallow water.
- Use a 16-18 gauge hypodermic needle, 1-1/2 to 2 inches long
to release excess gas.
- Caution! - Puncturing a fish in the wrong place can cause
- See Honey Hole Magazine website for suggested puncture location.
3. RELEASE SITE
- Release site should have good water quality and adequate
- Low traffic areas are preferred.
- Fish should not be released right at the shoreline if
- Use a dock or a beached boat to get released fish into deeper
4. RELEASE TUBES
- Large diameter PVC pipes (at least 8-inch diameter).
- Smooth joints.
- Continuous flow of water.
- Do not drop at an angle of more than 30 degrees.
- Delivery end should be no more than one foot from the lake's
- Empty into water at least three feet deep.
- If lake temperatures during the tournament are considered
warm for that lake, do not use release tubes. Use deep water release boats instead.
5. RELEASE BOATS
- Release boats should be used to distribute fish away from
boat ramps & marinas.
- In the absence of a pontoon boat, use contestant boats to
shuttle fish away from weigh-in area to deeper water in the main body of the lake away
from boat traffic areas.
6. ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
- During the weigh-in, place dead fish on ice in a cooler
immediately, out of view of spectators.
- Workers should police after weigh-in area, leaving it cleaner
than when they arrived.
- Remain in the release area for at least one hour after
weigh-in to pick up any dead fish.
- If a fish is floating or cannot swim on its own it will
likely die and should be removed.
GUIDELINES FOR TOURNAMENT ANGLERS: KEEPING BASS HEALTHY IN THE LIVE WELL
1. FILL YOUR LIVE WELL EARLY IN THE DAY!
- Fill live well at first fishing spot.
- Use water from open lake areas with good water quality.
2. TURN ON THE RECIRCULATING AERATOR IMMEDIATELY!
- Set pump switch on manual (continuous operation)
- Run continuously all day.
- If aerator must run on a timer, run as often as possible.
- If boat does not have a recirculating aeration system, add
- This is a must to provide proper aeration if you transport
fish while the boat is moving or on the trailer.
3. LAND FISH QUICKLY, AVOIDING DAMAGE TO SLIME
- Grasp fish by lower jaw only, holding them vertically.
- Support large fish with a wet hand under the belly.
- Use soft, knotless nylon or rubber landing nets.
- Do not allow fish to touch boat carpet and rub off protective
- Remove hooks quickly with as little tissue damage as
- Remove deep hooks carefully. When attempts fail, cut
line five or six inches above the hook.
- Don't keep fish out of water longer than you can hold your
4. KEEP FISH IN REAR LIVE WELLS IF VOLUME IS
- Fish in forward live wells are more likely to be injured from
bouncing during rough water travel.
- Distribute fish evenly between rear live well compartments.
5. PUMP FRESH WATER REGULARLY!
- When water temperatures are below 75 degrees, pump fresh
water as often as possible.
6. ADD ICE & SALT!
- When water temperatures are above 75 degrees, recirculate
live well water.
- Do not rather pump in hot lake water.
- Ice cools the water and slows the fish' metabolism.
- One 8-pound block of ice cools water in a 30-gallon live well
about 10 degrees for three hours.
- Adjust the amount of ice according to live well size.
- Block ice melts slower and can be stored for later use.
- Monitor live well water temperatures.
- Non-iodized salt (available from farm feed stores).
- Helps maintain electrolyte balance and reduces the effects of
- Add 1/3 cup per five gallons. Pre-measure salt into
- Add Catch & Release® as directed.
- Drain half of the live well water every three hours.
- Refill with fresh water to remove toxic waste products (CO2
- Add ½ amount of ice, salt and Catch & Release® each
7. OXYGEN DELIVERY SYSTEMS
- Oxygen from pressurized cylinder is delivered directly into
live well through air-stone or hose.
- Must have regulator or pressure valve. See Coast Guard
regs about carrying pressurized tanks.
- Solves oxygen demand problems.
- Usually less need for water temperature adjustments but
adding salt is still recommended.
- Periodic flushing with fresh water is also required.
- Better than simple aeration, but not a cure all.
- Under extreme conditions (water temp. over 90 degrees) these
will not prevent all mortality.
For more information contact:
Oklahoma Fishery Research Laboratory