Keep Your Tournament Fish Alive

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Ever since the early days of professional bass fishing and the change from “Catch And Kill” to Catch And Release” tournaments, bass anglers have been striving to keep their fish alive.

Though we all work to keep bass alive, some days it’s just plain tough to do so…

live well troubles

I know we’ve all heard the phrase, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”

For those of us who have lost fish during more than one tournament, that’s pretty much how we feel.

My Personal Live Well Frustrations…

A few decades ago during my first full season of fishing club tournaments, I was in contention for the annual “Angler Of The Year” (AOY) title. As it turned out, everything was on the line during the last tournament of the season and it was very tight between me and another club member.

I managed to catch a decent limit of bass during the event but so did my closest competitor. When all was said and done, I ended up finishing in second place for the year; a mere 3 ounces behind the AOY winner.

Though that was both frustrating and painful, what really hurt was the fact I had two dead fish at the final weigh-in not only costing me 8 ounces off my total weight for the day but obviously the AOY title.

Can you say OUCH!

I think I remember using a few other choice words when I heard the results!

Now let’s fast-forward a few decades.

A buddy and I were fishing a night team tournament on a local lake during one of the longest heat waves for the year. As our night’s fishing got underway, we quickly connected with several nice largemouth including one, 22 inch bass weighing about 6 pounds.

As we started to place the fish and live well, I noticed the water was quite warm. So I made sure that the re-circulation system was operating; added “catch and release” preservative to the water; as well as a couple of ice blocks to help keep the fish alive.

It turned out, most of the fish catching happened early that evening. The rest of the fish caught during the final hours of the tournament wouldn’t help our weight and were instantly released back into the water so we never checked the live-well since we heard the pump system working away.

A short time before we headed into weigh-in, I open the live well to check on our fish. As soon as I popped the lid I was met with a rush of hot, musty air rising out of the well.  As my headlamp beamed into the live well, I noticed three of the bass, including our largest, were floating belly up. Ugh!

Even though were fishing out of an expensive bass boat with a modern, recirculating live well system with extra precautions, 60% of our limit died.

Although there wasn’t an AOY title at stake, those three dead fish did cost us financially as we dropped from first to third place. The only upside, one of the anglers love to eat bass and ended up with quite a meal.

One of the things that stuck with me after that night was the feeling of the relatively hot air and odor that came rushing out of the live well when I popped the lid.

It seemed to me that the buildup of heat as well as the stagnation of the air above the water in the live well might have had something to do with killing the fish.

Does a lack of ventilation kill bass in live wells?

After learning about a new product invented by the folks at New Pro Products, it seems the lack of ventilation was the culprit.

A short time ago, New Pro Products introduced a new live well ventilation system they call V-T2. The V-T2 system involves the installation of flush mounted ventilation portals on the live well covers.

VT-2 Live Well Portals

These portals that allow the exchange of fresh air from the atmosphere with the stagnant air that builds up in the air space of a live well as shown in the image below:

 VT-2 Ventillation system

It is also designed to prevent sloshing water in the well from splashing up onto the deck.

The result – purging the hot, stagnant air over the water with cooler air replenished with oxygen!

A pretty ingenious invention if you ask me; obviously one that may have helped me keep my fish alive in the past.

You can bet New Pro Products’ V-T2 system will be added to all my live wells from this point forward.

You can check out the details of the V-T2 system by clicking on the following image…

VT2 Logo

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