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Bass caught in Bassmasters Classic

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Classic Survivalists: Bass caught in Bassmasters Classic should survive moment on stage, says fishery expert - By Frank Sargeant, The Huntsville Times

Will bass survive after being caugh on Lake Guntersville and hauled approximately 80 miles to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center for the Bassmaster Classic weigh-ins?

That's the question a concerned reader posted last week. For an answer, we went to Gene Gilliland, the new National Conservation Director for B.A.S.S. and former assistant chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Check out his opinion:

"When we had the classic at Grand Lake in Oklahoma last year, we had a very similar situation -- the fish were caught some 90 miles from Tulsa and had a 90-minute ride to weigh in and then back," he said. "We lost not one fish during that event. I'd like to take all the credit for it, but the biggest factor was very cold weather. The water temperature was in the lower 40s, and anytime you have that fish can survive a lot of handling without any mortality."

Gilliland said that based on the weather in north Alabama this year so far, it's very likely that water temperatures will still be in the 40s when for the Classic, scheduled for Feb. 21-23.

He said that improved livewells in modern bass boats also helps create very low mortality rates during pro-level tournaments.

"B.A.S.S. has worked with bass boat companies for years providing oxygen level and temperature data at weigh-ins," he said, "and the companies have responded by greatly improving the wells so that the fish can survive. The wells of modern boats hold more water and have bigger fill and aeration pumps, and that really helps the fish stay healthy."

Gilliland said each competitor is checked when he ramps out to make sure the live well is full, the aerator is working, and that his fish are healthy.

For anglers, it's highly important to the anglers that the fish survive for reasons other than conservation -- a dead fish at weigh-in means a penalty, and that can cost them a six-figure paycheck in the Classic.

Another factor is careful handling during the weigh-ins, Gilliland said.

"We use a mesh big inside a vinyl bag. When the fish are set down into the folds of that mesh and the bag is filled with water, it's like they're hiding in a weedbed, it has a calming affect on them, and then they're brought to the scales in under a minute typically," he said. "Immediately after the weigh-in they go down through a trapdoor into the large holding tank maintained by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which is basically a 500-gallon aquarium, and at the end of each day that will be trucked back to the lake."

Gilliland said the fish are not handled during the release - -a large pipe is used to funnel them back into the water. He said the bass are typically released in several different locations to avoid "stacking" one spot that can then be harvested by local anglers.

Gilliland said that the impact of the Classic on Guntersville's bass fishery would be very minimal, in any case.

"We're only talking about 56 anglers here, while on any given weekend there may be several tournaments on Guntersville that have twice that many boats, each," he said. "And, because of the timing of the weigh-in, the Classic pros fish a short day. The bass are in the well no longer than they would be in an event on the lake, where weigh-in might not begin until late afternoon."

In short, it appears that the impact of angler harvest during the Classic should not be a point of concern for area bass anglers -- and those who watch the pro's carefully just might learn a few honey holes and tactics that can make them more successful on their next trip to fish the lake.

This story appeared originally in The Fishing Wire. For a free subscription, visit <!-- w --><a class="postlink" href="" onclick=";return false;"></a><!-- w -->.
Thanx for posting!! interesting read!
Great read indeed. The fish were really struggling the past weekend at Clan with water temps of up to 30 degrees Celsius measured. We saw lots of guys running bass in early to prevent unnecessary strain on the fish.
Regards Robert Jacobs
We can learn from this, we don't handle our fish well as the weigh stations and our water temps are a lot higher as well.
Personally I think the biggest thing in live wells is size and airation my live well is about 50l which is over kill but I made a deal with a dam manager to take 4 fish to stock some where and the trip back was about 100km the first fish was caught at 8am put in the live well no ice or any thing else last fish caught 12:30pm got the boat out the water( pumps running ) put boat cover on drove a stressful hour back to somewhere lipped the fish put in the pond and they are very healthy 1 month later.they get fed big tadpoles and it is amazing to watch.

My livewell takes in dam water then I close a valve when full and then I switch on a big pump that sucks in livewell water and squirts it back into livewell through a self made spraybar ( conduit full of holes) and that puts air into the waters and cools it down a bit
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