Sunday, 27/9/2020 | : : UTC-5
Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Making your boat survivable for the fish, Pt. 3

Making your boat survivable for the fish, Pt. 3

Jasper Johnson
“Hook Up”

Editor’s note: This is part three in a three-part-series about making your boat ready for the summer fishing season.
In my last article we talked about the live well stay of your bass. Hoped it gave you more insight as to what to do.
Today we are going into the final part of this three part series and that is how to increase the survivability of your fish taken from the live well, through weigh-in, to live release back into the lake.
Well you are on your last spot of the day and it’s almost time to head back to the weigh-in site and weigh your fish. Before you leave the area one of the most important things you can do is to pump as much fresh water into your live well as possible to make sure there is plenty of oxygen in the water for the fish to live on until you get them weighed and released. Okay, water pumped in as much as possible!
You arrive at the ramp and begin to load your boat. Make sure you turn on the recirculating system in your boat before you load. If you have a bubbler system like I do make sure it is turned on also. Again, the more oxygen you can give the fish the better. You work to get everything tied down on the trailer and move off to the weigh-in site and finish preparing your boat for the trip home, less the live wells. What have you done with your weigh-in bag? Oh, there it is. Take it out, run some water into it and wash it out good, then pour the water out of it. That makes sure you have a clean bag to put the fish in for weigh-in.
Put as much water as you can carry into the weigh-in bag before you begin to take the fish out of the live well. If you have had a good day and have your limit of five fish you should have at least two gallons of water in your bag, 16 pounds of water and whatever weight you have can get heavy but don’t overload your bag. The last thing you want is for the bag to burst and fish go everywhere. All the fish need to be upright and able to move a little. Next take your battery-operated bubbler you picked up at Walmart and put the stone down in the water to the bottom of the bag. Turn it on and now you are providing the fish oxygen even while you are waiting in the weigh-in line. If there are oxygenated hold tanks provided by the Weigh Team use them also to keep your bag full of water and cool. I always drop my bag into them and let the water cool down the outside of my bag. The cooler the water in the bag the better survivability of the fish.
Okay, now you are at the scales and it’s time to weigh your fish. A lot of tournament officials take over handling of the fish at this point. They remove them from the bag and place them in the weigh-in basket. Your weight shows up and now it’s time to either return the fish to the lake or to the holding tank. Generally the tournament weigh-in team will secure your fish and take them to the holding tank if the tournament is large enough to have one. However if you have to return them to the lake carefully place each one back into your bag and make sure they are all upright. That walk from the weigh-in site to the lake can surely kill a fish if it is upside down for the trip back to the water. Once you reach the water don’t do what I have seen so many times – lay the bag down next to the water and pour the fish back in.
Generally the water temp in your bag and live well are higher than the water temperature in the lake. Take each fish out individually and support them in the water until they adjust to the temperature. They will let you know when they are ready…they will take off like a bullet if you have taken care of them all day.
Once you have the last one in the water pour your water back into the lake, rinse your bag and go home. Oh, by the way, congrats on your healthy catch!
Remember what we said in part two about what you need to do to your live well when you get home to make it ready for your next trip. Also remember to wash out your weigh-in bag with chlorinated water and set it up where it will drain and dry out.
If you have any questions or concerns about anything in this three part series, please feel free to shoot and e-mail to I’ll try to get back with you as quick as I possibly can.
Have a great day on the water and catch a bigun’! 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’.


Contact Us

Phone: 254-939-5754

Fax: 254-939-2333

Address: 210 N. Penelope St, Belton, TX 76513