They’re Going To Kill a Bunch of Fish Again

The fishing tournament season is going to be kicking into high
gear soon. It never slows down much in the southern portion of the
United States, but up north the hard water and closed seasons
hinder competitive angling. I don’t have a problem with tournament
angling. I think it’s great for the sport. I do have a problem with
the amount of fish these events kill each year.

It wouldn’t bother me much if the event organizers would just
admit to killing the bass and walleyes and keep them for a food
shelf. Instead they brag about releasing them all, only to have
those fish sink to the bottom, victims of delayed mortality. What a

I’ll explain. Studies have shown that bass or walleyes, when put
into a plastic bag and held for longer than a couple of minutes,
succumb to delayed mortality. It’s not just a few fish; it’s all of
them. When you show this data to tournament organizers that use
bags for weigh-in they scream and cry and wail, wave their arms and
call you the Anti-Christ. They just don’t want to admit the truth
because they like the ease of weighing the fish in bags and don’t
want the added expense of an oxygenation system to keep the fish

It’s been a misconception for years that as long as a fish was in
water it was going to remain healthy. We’ve learned this is not the
case. The water must have enough oxygen present to sustain the
fish. In a weigh-in bag that is seldom the case. In all of the bag
tournaments I have attended over the past dozen years I have yet to
see a bag tournament hold fish in the bags less than the two to
three minutes it takes to use up all the oxygen.

I’m not blaming the anglers for this, although they do bear some of
the responsibility. I’m blaming the tournament organizers that are
too cheap or lazy to upgrade to a system that works. The anglers do
all they can to keep their fish alive so they don’t get penalized
for dead fish at the weigh-in. They install oxygenators in their
live wells, use water treatments to keep the ammonia and chlorine
out of the system and then they are forced to toss the fish into
the bags of death where they suffocate before release.

The reason I do hold the anglers to some of the responsibility in
this is because many know there is a problem but choose to fish
these events anyway. If they truly cared about the resource they
would boycott bag tournaments.

The large-scale tournaments have gotten better about delayed
mortality. They are using oxygenated tanks before the scales and
live-release boats to keep the fish breathing. It’s the smaller
venues that are the worst violators. At some point these organizers
either have to be educated to this situation or forced to comply
with procedures that keep the fish alive. If they don’t then they
should be killing all the fish brought to the scales and donating
the fillets to the local food shelves. If you’re going to kill
them, you should eat them.

Next week I will go into specific details on the scourge of delayed
mortality in fishing tournaments and what can be done to remedy
this situation.


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