Monday, 18/1/2021 | : : UTC-5
Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Making your boat survivable for the fish, Pt. 2

Making your boat survivable for the fish, Pt. 2

Jasper Johnson
“Hook Up”

Editor’s note: This is part two in a three-part-series about making your boat ready for the summer fishing season.
The first thing we need to remember is that a live well holds the water that the fish have to breathe to stay alive while they await the scales and release back into the lake. If your live well is not clean then they will be breathing in water contaminated with all kinds of stuff. How many times have you seen one of the bass you have placed in your live well up chuck either a shad or a crawfish? Well, there is a lot of other stuff they up chuck as well. All that goes into the water in the live well gets circulated through all the hoses and recirculation pump as well. It stays in the well until weigh-in. Then you drain the well, which is now Texas Law, and head to the house. Remember all that up chuck…well it’s now on the bottom of the live well and drying there.
The first thing you need to do when you get home is take your garden hose and spray out the live well with chlorinated water to wash all that up chuck out. Then close the well and fill it to the top with fresh chlorinated water and run your boat’s aeration/recirculation system to wash out all the hoses that had the up chuck flowing through them. Let it run for several minutes to make sure the system has re-circulated enough water to loosen all the stuff that dried out while you made the trip home. Then drain the well.
The next step is to close the well switch and use an antibacterial soap, Dawn is my preferred, with a bucket or warm water and wash out the insides of the well again with the soapy water. Make sure you also get under the rim of the well as it comes into contact with the fish as you place them in and out of the well. After the well is scrubbed down, fill with cold water and re-circulate to run the antibacterial through the hoses. Running for about 3 minutes should be good. Then, drain the well.
Next, rinse the system again with clean chlorinated water until you are sure all the soap is out of the well and the hoses. Drain the well completely and dry out the well as best as possible. Remember warm damp places create an excellent breeding ground for bacteria.
Next, leave your live well doors open. This allows air to circulate and helps to make sure your well dries completely.
Now what about stay alive additives? There are many pros and cons to these additives. Some believe that they are the best things since sliced bread, while others think we are only harming the fish more than helping them. Yes, I have used additives for years, but to this day I’m not truly sold on their true benefits or what problems they can create for the fish. I guess the best way to look at it is by addressing the following questions.
a. What chemicals are in the additives and what is each chemical’s purpose?
b. Is the additive made from natural resources you will find in most lakes anyway?
c. How does the additive affect the fish’s metabolism and circulatory systems?
d. What does the marine biologist think is best for the fish, additive or not?
If you truly want to know the answers to the above questions I would recommend you go to the following website. and read what’s there. It helped me make my decision on the use of additives. Now that I have done the research, I don’t think I’ll be using any additives anymore.
In answer to the last question most marine biologists do not recommend the use of live well additives. They recommend a solution of non-iodized salt, 1/3 cup per every 5 gallons of water. They say it reduces the fish’s stress, it maintains an electrolyte balance, and somewhat reduces infections. This is what I am switching to.
What else can we do to make the live well more survivable? You may want to consider spending a few of those hard earned dollars on a bubbler system for each live well. The more oxygen you can generate in your well the better off your fish will be especially during the hot summer months. You can pick up a “bubbler” system with two stones for around $60 and it takes about two hours to install. If I can do it I’m sure you can!
Another is a vent system for the live well. They make vent caps that you can mount directly to the live well doors that allows the heat to escape and fresh air to enter the well area. Haven’t done this one yet but have watched the YouTube videos on it and it makes sense.
Well I hope this has helped you better understand the live well experience your bass go through.
In Part 3 we will explore what is the best method to use in taking your fish to weigh-in and live release.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me at
Catch a bigun’.


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