Fish Care Tips
- Minimize handling and air exposure time. Land fish and remove hooks as quickly as possible.
- Protect the slime coat. Don’t let fish flop on carpet or deck.
- When the surface water temperature is less than 75° F, aerate the livewell by flushing with fresh water.
- Run recirculating aeration continuously when the boat is moving and cannot pump in fresh water.
- When surface water temperature exceeds 75° F, use continuous recirculation. Add a block of ice to cool the water. The target temperature of the water in the livewell should be 5° F cooler than the surface water temperature.
- When operating the livewell in recirculation mode with more than 5 lb. of bass, replace half of the livewell water with fresh water every 3 hours to remove ammonia. When surface water temperatures exceed 75° F, add ice to lower livewell temperature to the target of 5° F cooler than the surface water temperature.
- At weigh-in, fill bags with at least 2 gallons of livewell water.
- Handle Fish with wet hands.
Additional recommendations for catch and delayed release bass tournaments:
- Stager the weigh-in so fish are in bags for as little time as possible.
- When anglers are waiting in line, never rest the bag on the hot pavement.
- When air temperatures are especially warm minimize the number of pictures and any other activities that keep fish out of the water.
- Livewells used to hold fish should be in working order and routinely flushing water with the lake environment in order to prevent excessive temperatures in the livewell.
- Do not release floating bass. If a bass does not actively swim away at release it is better for the angler that caught the fish to harvest it as a part of his/her daily bag limit. Having an independent observer watching the release of all fish who is responsible for determining whether a fish should be kept or not is recommended.
Finally, smallmouth bass have an optimal preferred temperature that is 5-10° F cooler than that of largemouth bass.
These tips were shared with me by Michigan DNR.