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An Open Letter to Bass Fishermen

After attending dozens of weigh-ins, as a spectator, tournament participant, reporter, and occasionally as weigh-master, I have arrived at the point where it is very hard for me to be there. On most every occasion, I see a callous disregard for the well being of the fish displayed by many of the fishermen. Let me be clear. I am not talking about all fishermen.. I know many of them that take every precaution possible to give their fish the best possible chance at survival after being released. But I am going to put the number at about fifty percent.

I am not sure what the reason for this is. We all love to fish. (I think) We all think of ourselves as conservationists.

Maybe I am wrong.. Maybe a lot of people just don’t really care. It appears that their attitude is “I am just going fish the tournament and if my fish die I just don’t really give a darn.”

I don’t care that the water is hot, that my live wells are operating minimally, and I’m not gonna open the thing unless I’m gonna put another fish in there. It’s too much of a bother to add some ice to the water, and putting Catch and Release in the wells is a pain and the stuff is too expensive.

And If I forget to turn the pump on or to plug the wells before I head to the weigh-in it’s no big deal.. I just forgot.. And my fish are dead so just dock me the weight.. I only come here once a year.. I just don’t care.. I’m not in the hunt for the Top Six anyway.. Look at those two big ones I caught.. Hey… Who wants fish?? Who’s cleaning fish?

And anyone who knowingly throws dead fish back in the water should be fined.. Substantially..

Is it any wonder that tournament fishermen are held in such low regard? How are we (as a whole) any better than the guy who fillets everything he catches? We certainly contribute largely to the death rate..

And I can’t tell you how many times I have seen fishermen bring their fish to the scale with one quart of water in the bag.. Or no water in the bag.. And stand in line yaking about the one that got away while the ones in the bag are getting deader by the second..

Pull your head out people.. Because if these fish were human they would be rushed to intensive care and all immediate family members called.. There is no emergency room in the water when you dump them in the muddy shallows. And returning them to the lake is not some instant cure all that restores their vitality and returns then to instant health.. The fact is that a very high percentage of fish die after being released, even when they are well cared for. And the way many fish are treated gives them a ZERO chance to live.

I know that zero mortality is not possible. I know that some fish die in the first thirty seconds after they come out of the water. I know it is a numbers game. But these are not the fish I am talking about.

I am talking about taking some personal responsibility for the well being of your fish, and the sport you love.. Allegedly.. Because if you don’t we’ll all suffer for it.. And already are..

These are issues that need to raised at Bass Club meetings. It should be priority one to prevent fish deaths. And a lot of it is so simple.. It starts with giving a darn.

Here are a few suggestions for better survival rates.. And one of them is guaranteed to reduce fish deaths by forty percent..

Install an oxygen system in your boat. It will virtually eliminate dead fish.

Go to a three fish limit. Or better yet, get every one in the club the same scale and weigh them in the boat and release em’ on the spot. A paper tournament is fine as well, but this is much more accurate.

Shorten tournament hours in warm water months.

Do not allow trailering to weigh-ins.

Hold your weigh in as close to the water as possible, and if workable, take fish to weigh area directly from boat.

Put lots of well-oxygenated water in your weigh bag.. Get someone to help you carry it if needed.

Limit the amount of weigh bags used, and use bags with mesh liners that are removable. This requires much less handling of the fish.

Minimize picture time.

Minimize the weighing of Patch fish, as this can add minutes to the time fish are in the bags.

The Weigh Master MUST keep things moving. Have plenty help..

All these things can greatly help reduce fish mortality… But not if the fish get there dead.. So it is up to you, the individual, to get them there alive..

The aforementioned precautions can greatly help in the survival rate. Please help us preserve our fish for our, and future generations.

So In the end it all comes down to “Do you give a darn, or not?”

I originally posted this about three years ago.. But unfortunately it is just as relevant today..

Please do your part to save our fish.. And I do mean OUR fish.. I realize I don't own them.. And the law says we can kill five apiece a day if we wish. But if we want to keep Falcon as a fishery anywhere close to what it has been, we all need to start doing a better job of caring for our big fish.

I'll quit bitching now.. Well almost.. If you are just fun fishing, please do not carry around a bunch of big fish for a late day photo op of you holding up two hands full of big fish.. It is no different than subjecting them to the same hazards that were discussed above.

I have a bunch of photos to post.. And I am working on em.. And one day I want to post a pic of you with a monster.. Please help me try and protect them

See you on the water..
Don't think that I'm maliciously picking at you OK? You are giving some really good advice. Do you really think that 50% of people that fish tournaments don't give a darn? That seems pretty high.
I think 100% of people who eat big bass do not care if their fish die when they hit the ice in the ice chest.

And oh yeah, I fish a whole lot of tournaments and I would say 98% of tournament fisherman take every possible precaution to keep their fish alive.
As the title says...I READ IT And Wantred to Share It.....Not Wrote IT...Jusus People I Just thought It Had Some Good Points and Really.....You Just Read A 10,000 word paper and only found one thing wrong with it ? 'Hey Man I THink It's More Like 10%' This Web Site Is Starting To Be A Joke.....Just Thought It Had Some Good Ideas Ya'll Might Wanna Try.....Continue To Enjoy Your SE LA 2 lb Average, I am goin fishin
Did you see my first sentence? I did notice that it was something that you did not write. I was only asking how much of the content that you thought was true. I am not a fresh water or a tournament fisherman, so I really don't know how much about those issues. You seem to know about the subject, so I was only asking for you to clarify for me how much of that was true and how much of it was just unfounded rant using guessed at statistics. Please don't think that everyone on this site is looking to bash people. Most of us here are staight up sportsman. If you look at any of my posts or comments (and there are many) you will see that 'That Guy in the White Boots' only offers advice and encouragement to all members of this forum. You may not be able to see the many emails that I send to members that contact me via email to get even more detailed advise. I send members satallite photos of places to fish with marks, GPS coordinance and all kinds of other info and I don't even know who they are. So welcome to our forum, I see you are a member since February. Please don't let a couple of nit-wits, that you will find anywhere, be a gauge of the true participants in the LA Sportsman forum. Unfortunately I am not going fishing today. Chefs fish during the week. We work on the weekends. Enjoy your fishing trip. Relax.
Well I agree if we don't intend to eat the fish we catch we should try our best to keep them alive. And I have to say that if 50% of fishermen don't then HATS OFF to my fellow club members cause I can't think of one member who could care less about the fish or the areas they catch them in. And your right they are not your fish. I am very big on catch and release but I can't stand it when people hound others because they kept their limits that the law allows. You are going about it the wrong way you need to talk to the people who make the laws.And I have to say after reading your post you only make people who are against tourney fishing be less inclined to favor it. The only problem I see in my experience in fishing tourneys is the lack of respect to other boaters. Tournament fishermen tend to think that boating courtesy does not apply to them, they can't slow down for other fishermen or boats tied up against docks etc.because 'I'm in a tourney I can't waist time'.
I have been tournament fishing along time, and I almost didn't respond to this. There are very few fish that do not make it back to the water alive in these tournaments, todays bass boats have unbelieveable systems in them to help to keep your fish alive. I'm not going to go and dig up numbers but I will tell you most tournaments results report number of fish caught and released. I understand that if you are fun fishing then get he fish back into the water as soon as possible. If you (the writer)really give a darn about the fish then do what we normally do when we are pre-fishing for a tournament. We fish with no hooks on our lures! Try that. Don't come on here trying to put bassfisherman down on what and how we do things. If most bass fisherman caught and ate as many bass as we catch, there would be none for you to catch. No one cares more about bass fishing then tournament anglers. Your post has some substance behind it even if you didn't write it but 50% of it can go in the round file.
Guy In The white Boots, I appreciate your post, I didnt mean any disrespect by what I was saying, I just get so frustrated with comeing to a very cool site only to find that most read post to try and find something wrong with them so they can Flex and attempt to show that they are smarter then the next.....With that being said...To Pro Hound...Easy Dude, The last thing I would do would Put My Kind Down....I to am a tournament fishermen and proudly have 2 big girls on the wall.....But I figured based on what I have witnessed here in SE La a few of us might get something out of it...Ya'll Missed My Point, It Made Me Think about my livewells and temps and oxygen and hoped that it would do the same for others....Thats It, I didnt want to edit the mans writeing to iliminate what I didnt agree with....
No worries. Catch any fish? I got my butt handed to me for lunch. Gonna get stomped on tomorrow too. Gonna go fill my feeders on Tuesday.