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Thread: Dead Tournament Fish Penalty, an observation

  1. #1
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    Default Dead Tournament Fish Penalty, an observation

    For most tournament fishermen I know, winning the money and prize is the point of the tournament exercise, period. The cost of preparing for and fishing tournaments is not cheap when the cost is tallied; boat, motor, trailer, license, fishing uniform, sun glasses, top of the line boat livewells with 4 water pumps, 3 air pumps, switched, batteries, bells, buzzers, rods, reels, tackle, fuel, lodging, meals on the road, ice, livewell chemicals and the cost goes on and on. Fishing tournaments are not cheap anyway you cut it.

    Anyone here ever lost tournament money/prize because 1 fish died in your livewell before the weigh-in, you killed a fish? The weigh-master dealt you that dreaded “dead fish punishment and you lost the money.

    Keeping fish alive in the summer has been a problem and serious concern for tournament fishermen at least 40 years since the advent of the popular Catch and Release Ethic.

    Boat and livewell salesmen all say that livewells are supposed to keep fish alive. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t, especially in the summer. Tournament fish die quicker in summer livewells because livewels really do fail to keep fish alive. Keeping that tournament fish alive all day/all night is a constant worry and concern for summer tournament fisherman that fishing for money. I know that, been there, done that, lost money because 1 fish died.

    Keeping fish alive all day is a serious concern for all pro fishermen too. Bad water quality in any livewell can and does kill summer tournament fish and cost money. The livewell mortality problem is basically non-existant in fall, winter and spring fishing tournaments.

    A weigh-master told me that livewell mortality for night tournament caught fish is substantially higher than keeping fish alive in day tournaments. He did not explain why, but he did tell me that tournament caught small mouth bass will die in livewells as quick as thread-fin shad, especially in night tournaments.

    There is just something about those night summer tournaments that is deadly different than day tournaments.

  2. #2
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    I remember feeling like I was going to die when I worked owl shift.
    Grouchy, grumbling, hard to get along with, all kinds of ills.
    Yes, something about the night, perhaps we should all be "On The Bed" during those hours...

  3. #3
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    water temps have big play in fish mortality or lack of .
    really cold crappie can live out of the water a good long time .
    this is the reason a good stocking program for fish only takes place in the cooler months .
    sum kawl me tha outlaw ketchn whales

  4. #4
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    Default MY OPINION

    Quote Originally Posted by Ketchn View Post
    water temps have big play in fish mortality or lack of .
    really cold crappie can live out of the water a good long time .
    this is the reason a good stocking program for fish only takes place in the cooler months .
    Ketchin – Your right about the cold water temperature (hypothermia)benefits reducing fish metabolism. Doctors lower human metabolism with cold water during heart surgery for the same reasons. And yes, it is safer to transport live fish in the cooler months because the water is cool/cold.
    That cold water is probably the main reason the BassMaster Classic fishing tournament dates were changed a decade ago from the hot Dog Days of Summer to the cold dead of winter (last of February to the beginning of March) that totally eliminate their tournament bass mortality problems… a paradigm public relations decision demonstrating the power of controlling fish metabolism. This science based decision totally eliminated C&R tournament mortality demonstrating “the best tournament fish care possible.”
    Let’s yank the covers back and take a close look at C&R TOURNAMENT FISH REALITY!
    How many tournament directors do you know would ever seriously consider having their tournaments in the cold winter months just for the sake a public relations image, fishery conservation, totally eliminating tournament mortality and doing the right things to keep tournament fish alive and healthy to final release and -0- tournament mortality (acute of post tournament)?
    “We provide the best tournament fish care possible?” Sound familiar no? This is the classic meaningless myth parroted by C&R tournament fishermen, tournament directors, boat salesmen and C&R promoters for decades. This is simple classic conditioning for fishermen and most importantly, conditioning the public, the people that pay the taxes that support the state and federal fisheries.
    Manipulating public hearts and minds through years of intensive indoctrination worked for decades until BASS threw in a ringer and redefined “the new best tournament bass care possible. Keeping Bass Alive, published 2002.
    Say and write tournament FISHERY CONSERVATION often and definitely say it loud all the time. Tournament Fish Conservation is no more than meaningless popular public relations buzz-words for most tournament directors and tournament fishermen, has been the last 50 years and continues to date until BASS demonstrated more effective tournament conservation and the advantages of having the BassMaster Classic tournament during the cold winter months. Of course the fish were smaller, the cold weather was not comfortable and the tournament crowds were smaller… the cost of eliminating C&R tournament mortality is not free or cheap but extremely effective.
    It crystal clear there are no tournament directors or fishermen willing to pay a price like this for the sake of fishery conservation. In reality, there is a lot of talk, shuck’in and jiv’in about tournament fish conservation, but the fact remains that summer tournament mortality is a mon-issue, no more than a popular talking point as usual.
    Other opinions are surely welcome.

  5. #5
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    Sounds as if you have had a really bad experience with trying to keep fish alive. I fish tournaments with crappie and don't have issues with them dying from being in the well, but I take extra time to care for my fish especially those that have been caught deep. I make sure to weight the fish so they stay up right, plenty of oxygen and I use G Juice. My fish at the scales are flipping the weight up.
    I have noticed that there are those that throw their fish in the well and end up killing them but it is poor handling in most cases.
    To your point, I'd rather fish in late winter/early spring as all you have to do is fill the tank and turn the oxygen on and fish live. But that is not the way the schedules are set. Keeping them in good shape to be released is challenging but can be done.

  6. #6
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    Arkcrappie, Yes I have lost T-money because a fish died in a summer tournament. Never had problems in cooler months, only in the summer.
    Question: How much O2 do you give a 20 lb sack of fish in a 20 gallon livewell?
    You’re right. Most T-fishermen never have sick and dead fish problems in livewells in the fall, winter and spring when the water temperature is cool/cold. Many don’t have livewell problems in the summer until they have a big sack of fish and overcrowd their livewell or they fail and cannot insure minimal safe livewell water quality all day. Maintaining minimal safe livewell water quality is definitely challenging for some fishermen in summer tournaments, especially June, July, August and the 1st half of September.
    Most summer T-fishermen waste an inordinate amount of time and concentration thinking about (worrying about) that dead fish penalty and losing the $ or prize if only 1 fish is dead. There are many things to worry about that cam all result in dead and dying T-fish; water quality problems, battery failure, water pump failure, run out of ice, aerator failure, hook injured fish and all the other possible problems that kill fish in summer livewells. Looking inside the livewell every 15-20 minutes from noon to the weigh-in hoping and praying all the fish are still alive and not floating upside down or at the surface gasping for air on the trip to the weigh-master. High stress for the wish as well as high stress for the fisherman. Many T-fishermen begin thinking about that dead fish penalty the night before the tournament, especially summer tournaments.
    Every T-fisherman I know is familiar with the words “functional boat livewell” as well as the cost of a livewell that is not functional. A fish dies and your hit with that “dead fish penalty” and you will lose the tournament.
    I have wondered what “functional livewell” really means, have you?
    I Googled – “what does a functional tournament boat livewell mean” and found out. It is not what I expected or have been led to believe all these years.
    Most T-fishermen I know believe that if the livewell aerator or water pump is turned on and the electric motor hums loud enough to hear it on a boat trailer and a tournament official has checked it out and Certified the boat livewell as a “functional livewell.” People think fish usually don’t die in functional livewells unless they are severely injured when caught, but they still worry about that dead fish penality.

  7. #7
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    Hot water holds less dissolved oxygen. Fish are cold blooded and when caught in deep water and brought up quickly to the surface where the water is much warmer they can get shocked. And if they are put into a livewell with low dissolved oxygen they are stressed and can die. Also fish have a slime that covers their scales and that slime is there to protect them from bacteria and other organisms. If you handle a fish too much and rub the slime off the scales the fish can get stressed and die.

    I use use to use a 90 deg PVC pipe and stick it in the intake opening for my live well's water pump. I would then attack a ten foot long pvc pipe to the 90 deg connection with thick walled flexible tubing to hold the long pipe in place. the 10 ft long pipe would hang down into the water and draw up colder water into my life well. That helped keep the fish more active. Remember the fish in the hot summer months are mostly down deep and the water temperature and amount of Dissolved Oxygen is better down there. And if you put too many fish in a small livewell without enough dissolved oxygen the fish are going to be stressed and die. Boats need to be designed with a way to cool the water in the live well. Frozen water is plastic water bottles works in a minnow bucket to keep the water colder. I can keep 4 dozen minnows alive in a minnow bucket if I put in a frozen water bottle every hour or so to keep the water in the bucket colder. I keep a thermometer in the minnow bucket and check the water temperature every so often. If it's not down around 50 deg F then I add more ice. Remember that cities put chlorine in their tap water and that is bad for fish. So if you buy ice and it has chlorine in the water that was used to make the ice it can be released into your minnow bucket or live well. This is why it's a good idea to keep the ice inside a sealed plastic bottle. I buy 1 liter drinking water sized bottles and save a few for this purpose. You can use ice to keep several of these frozen water bottles cold even in the hot summer months. Use a white colored cooler to reflect the sun rays and keep the inside of the cooler colder. I wonder how much energy it would take to run something in the boat to keep the live well water colder? It may not be possible to do that. Unless it runs on solar and you have some mighty big solar panels on the boat. But they would not be good when the boat is running down the lake at 60 mph. So that may not work.

    Bottom line if you want to keep the fish alive keep the water temperature lower or at the same temperature that the fish were swimming in when they were caught. Colder water holds more dissolved oxygen and fish need that dissolved oxygen to live.

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