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Harker Heights Evening Star
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Taking Care of Your Fish Motel

Taking Care of Your Fish Motel

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In my last article, we discussed what a Big Bass goes through during a normal bass tournament and those things that impact on the fish’s capability to continue the species by spawning. Today, as I promised, I will be giving you the well-researched tools to make sure that your live well is the best ‘fish motel’ that it can be to sustain your fish so that they may live longer and healthier after they are released back into the lake…i.e. “Catch and release.”

First some questions to you:

  1. Do you drain and dry your live well every time you return from a fishing trip? YES/NO
  2. Do you blow out the live well supply lines to make sure there is no standing water in them? YES/NO
  3. Do you routinely clean your live well with an antibacterial cleaner? YES/NO
  4. Do you know what cleaners are good and which are bad for the fish that have to reside in your live well? YES/NO
  5. Does your boat have both, and aerator and a recirculating system and did you clean those when you cleaned your live well? YES/NO

If you said no to any of the above questions then you’re not doing it properly according to the professionals and the marine biologist ‘experts’ I researched.

Trust me, I learned a lot more than I thought I knew, doing this research. Yes, I was not even doing it right, so don’t go and beat yourself up about not understanding what really needs to be done and how frequently. So let’s learn together and do it right next time. Here is what they said were the right things to do. I’ll relate it to you from the standpoint of a routine fishing trip.

Step 1: When you load your boat after fishing, make sure you drain all the water out of the complete system. Switch turned to drain the live well or drain plug removed to let all the water run out of your live wells and your boat. Look inside to see if there is any residue from the fish regurgitating bait fish or other stuff on the bottom of the live well. If so remove what you can at the ramp.

Step 2. Briefly, turn on your aerator and recirculator to pump out as much of the water in the lines and allow that to drain. These lines are perfect areas ‘to grow bacteria and fungus’ according to the experts. Both 1 and 2 above are also Texas Law.

Step 3. Drive home and when you get there rinse the live wells with chlorinated water then take a dry towel and wipe down the inside of the live well to make sure it is completely dry, especially around the bottom drain hole. Then park your boat and open the live well doors and leave them open. This will dramatically reduce the chance for micro-organisms to grow in your live well while the boat is parked. Steps 1-3 should be done every time you go out.

Step 4. Once a quarter you want to mix ½ cup of Clorox to one gallon of water and take a stiff scrub brush and completely wash the inside of the live well with this solution.  Pour the solution into the live well and run your recirculator for a minute or two to circulate the mixture through the lines and head of the system. Let it drain and rinse thoroughly. The experts say ‘wash once rinse three times’ by completely filling the wells and recirculating and draining.

Step 5. Then mix up some Dawn dishwashing detergent, just as you would if you were washing your car or truck and re-wash the live well. The anti-bacterial properties of Dawn will remove them. Again, rinse with tap water ‘at least twice.’

Step 6. Dry the entire inside of the live well and blow out the lines if you have a compressor, low pressure. If not just make sure the drains remain open. Prop the doors of the live well open and leave them that way.

Step 7. Next time you launch your boat, while at the starting area completely fill both your live wells with fresh lake water. Close your wells so they will not drain when you run to your first fishing spot. If you have a pump out system for your live wells, pump them completely empty then open your valve to re-fill the wells. You are now prepared for your first catch of the day. If you do not have a pump out system then half way on your run to the first stop of the day open your drain switch to allow the water to leave the boats live wells. Once you get to your spot check and make sure they completely drained then fill them back up and you are ready to go.

Hope this well-researched information helps you keep your catch alive better and returns them to the water healthy and ready for me to catch them the next time I go out.

Please send any questions or comments to

Catch a Bigun!


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