They’re Going To Kill a Bunch of Fish Again – Part 3
The past couple of weeks I have been discussing the issue of
delayed mortality of fish that are transported and weighed in bags
at fishing tournaments. The time fish can spend in a weigh-in bag
and stay healthy is well documented and in most cases the standard
is not kept. Fish mortality is high at fishing events and the
organizers as well as many of the anglers choose to ignore this
because they feel it too expensive to take the necessary steps to
protect the resource.
Expense used to be an excuse. When I was director of the MN
Pro/Am Bass Tour we carted around big heavy bottles of pure oxygen
and pumped it into the water in the transfer tanks through
regulators with detailed hosing arrangements. We also used bottled
oxygen in the live-release pontoon boat to make sure the fish
stayed healthy. It worked well but it was expensive, back-breaking
and maintenance intense.
Starting my second year directing this tournament operation I
was approached by a couple of engineers who had designed a product
that was to keep bait alive and they thought it would apply well to
tournament fish handling. They were right. The oxygenating strips
produced plenty of oxygen and they were lightweight, portable and
didn’t break down. They needed cleaning after each event and were
not cheap at that time. About the same cost as the bottled
We used the Oxygenator emitters that season with great success
and even though it was my last year with this event they used this
system until the circuit ended.
The Oxygenator has gone through some changes over the past eight
years. Like all startup companies, it has changed management a few
times, improved the product line and worked hard to deliver its
message to anglers. The tournament system was put on the back
burner while the livewell equipment took center stage.
This year that is changing with the introduction of the
Tournamax Oxygenation System from O2 Marine Technologies. Each unit
gets custom built to fit the specific tournament’s requirements. If
you have three, four, five, however many stationing tanks from the
docks to the scales you can oxygenate each tank so water can be
transferred into the bags at each of these stations. The price is
reasonable and there is now no excuse for not having an environment
at weigh-ins that will keep fish alive and healthy.
The bottom line is that boat manufacturers are installing this
equipment in livewells and anglers are discovering that when they
keep the fish in a well oxygenated environment they stay healthy.
Now we must remove the weak link that caused the delayed mortality
at tournaments and force tournament organizers to either invest in
a system that uses bottled oxygen, or incorporates equipment that
adds pure oxygen into the water where the fish are held. Until they
do this, all tournaments that aren’t using this equipment should
clean all fish brought in and the meat distributed to local food
shelves. That makes more sense than allowing the fish to die, sink
to the bottom and go to waste.
It’s time for tournament anglers to take a stand for the
resource. Only compete in events that are good for the fish, good
for the sport and leave you feeling right about the resource when
you pull away from the landing and head for the next lake, and the