Care For Your Catch

By Kurt Dove

Our lakes and river water temps are hot and a lot of tournaments are still going on throughout the country. Most organizations have rules in place that penalize anglers for bringing in dead fish to the weigh-in scales. In professional tournaments I have seen this circumstance cost anglers $100,000's of dollars. Use these simple steps to help keep your catch alive in your summer tournaments and make sure you don't miss out on a potential payday or important tournament points that help to secure a spot in your trails' year end championships.

Photo of fizzing a fish


The first step in keeping your catch alive is starting with some cool water in your live well. I like to dump at least one bag of ice into my live well to begin the day. Once I catch my first fish, I fill the well to the top and place my controls on recirculation. This enables me to keep my live well water cooler than the lake water the fish are coming from. This helps immediately with stress and begins to create a comfortable place for the fish to be throughout my tournament day. I generally carry 3 more bags of ice for the fish throughout the day. I like to split my day into 3 segments when using the rest of the ice. I like to keep at least two of the bags available for after the afternoon time frame because that's when it's the hottest and the fish are most vulnerable.

If it is extremely hot, then I will also make myself aware of locations on the lake where I may be able to pick up more ice throughout the day.

The second most important aspect is using some additive to your live well. There are lots of good products on the market; Rejuvenate (, Catch-And-Release (, and U2 Pro Formula (, are just a few. These are must have supplements to help keep your catch lively for weigh-in time.

Fizzing A Fish

The final aspect you must be aware of in your fish care for both summer and winter months is the effects of pulling fish from deep water. Many fish that are pulled from 20+ feet of water need to be monitored shortly after placed in the live well to detect of the fishes air bladder has expanded and potentially needs to be adjusted to accommodate its confinement in the live well. This process of removing some air from the fish's bladder is called fizzing. If anglers don't fizz these deeply caught fish then they are almost certain to die prior to the weigh-in at the end of the day. You should check out this YouTube video from Texas Parks and Wildlife about fizzing fish.