Fish Care Guidelines for Tournament Directors: Keeping bass healthy through the weigh in

 

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 teams.

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 bag ice.
  •    Aerate tank with recirculating pump or air compressor.
  •    Contestants dip fresh water from tank into bags while waiting in line.

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 sink.
  •    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 bass".
  •    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 reaction.
  •    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 capacity).
  •    Water is cooled 10 degrees below lake temperature with block ice.
  •    Non-iodized salt added at a rate of one pound per 25 gallons of water.
  •    Supply pure oxygen if possible through air stones or bubble hose.
  •    All fish are placed in this tank after weighing but before salt-dipping.
  •    Healthy fish are recaptured quickly, salt dipped and released.
  •    Use a long handled net with soft, knotless nylon or rubber bag.
  •    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 often difficult 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 lethal damage.

 

3.  RELEASE SITE

  •    Release site should have good water quality and adequate depth.
  •    Low traffic areas are preferred.
  •    Fish should not be released right at the shoreline if possible.
  •    Use a dock or a beached boat to get released fish into deeper water.

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 a 30 degrees.
  •    Delivery end should be no more than one foot from the lake's surface.
  •    Empty into water at least three feet deep.

5.  RELEASE BOATS & TRAILERS

  •    Release boats and trailers should be used to distribute fish away from heavily used boat ramps & marinas.
  •    In the absence of a pontoon boat, use contestant boats to shuttle fish away from weigh-in area.

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.