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Bass boat livewell problems are back again this summer, that's predictable
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   Fishing Conservation and Education

Posted by Tony M
6/4/2017 8:51 AM
A popular Bass Tournament Rule at all summer bass tournaments says that – every bass boat has got to have a “properly aerated livewell” or a “fully functional livewell”, and that’s the rule. If a tournament official says your bass boat livewell is not properly aerated or fully functional, well, you and your boat will be disqualified and you will not be allowed to play today. Would a fully functional livewell made with an ice chest pass the test and qualify? Does a non-functional bass bag disqualify you too?

One fish dies in your livewell or weigh-in bag, you will be punished, you will lose the tournament prize and dead tournament bass are very, very bad public relations matters for tournament organizers.

Question of functional or non-function bass boat livewell and plastic bass bags - does anybody here have any idea what a “properly aerated livewell” or “fully functional livewell” or functional bass bag actually means? How would a tournament official actually test a livewell or bass bag to determine what is ”fully functional” or totally ”non-functional?”

What is a livewell? A livewell is a tank found on many fishing boats that is used to keep bait and caught fish alive [during live transports]. A “functional livewell” can and does sustain minimal safe water quality sufficient water to keep bait and fish alive and healthy during a summer 5-10-15 hour transport for tournament bass… from the initial capture – weigh-in holding tanks – hospital tank-live release boat haul tanks. A non function livewell cannot and will not keep bait or fish alive all day during transport captivity.

Dig this: July 22, 2012 - DNR suggests ways to keep bass alive in livewells . . . but

Many black-bass anglers hold onto their catch for an hour or more throughout the fishing day, says a Maryland DNR report from Dr. Joseph Love, PhD, the man in charge of tidal bass -- a man who also appears to be firmly on the side of bass tournaments. "Keeping the bass alive in a livewell can be a challenge especially during summer months," he says. “Many people have different ideas on how to keep those fish alive. We recently studied some of those ideas and just how good water quality is in the livewell. We learned that recirculation with fresh water every 30 minutes for at least 3 to 5 minutes is very important.” For questions or comments, respond to Joe Love, and you can read more of the work in the attachment Keeping Bass Alive in the Live Well

However . . . bass boat livewell oxygen levels and weigh-in bags that were tested in Texas revealed disturbing dissolved oxygen (DO) content and clearly demonstrated that the livewells were "deathwells" and in the case of tournament anglers waiting in line to tally their catches, holding the bass in a bag, the bags might be "kill bags.” So says the study made in July in the Lone Star State.
Carl Wengenroth, the National Conservation Director of the International Federation of Black-Bass Anglers, writes that when livewell water pumps are running, spray bars aerating the livewell water as usual, such a boat would be classified by most tournament officials as having a "functional livewell."

"Functional livewells" in July and August when water temperatures can exceed 80 degrees? Wengenroth says it’s a shill game played out thousand of times [on hot summer days] by tournament officials responsible for certifying bass boat livewells as "functional.”

A functional livewell must contain water that must be safe for all the fish being transported all day long in the summer or any other time of the year. Bass boat livewell (aerated) water quality can be deadly according to dissolved oxygen (DO) meter test results. Wengenroth says the reality is that aerated livewells are not safe, nor functional, when they contain a tournament limit of bass in July in Texas [ed. note: or any other state when water temperatures reach 80 degrees.]

Carl Wengenroth and his dissolved oxygen meter tests have blown the lid off current tournament beliefs because the tests showed a consistent lack of oxygen. According to his DO meter, all is not well in livewell land. Check out what Carl has found and published

Wengenroth wrote, “Everytime I have tested [my livewell] without [added] oxygen, running just aereators --- after a full 8 hours I was lucky enough to have 15 lbs. or better for 5 [hours]. The ppm in my livewell was less than 4 ppm. I was basically slow-cooking and oxygen-starving my fish."

Posted by Gene Mueller's World of Fishing and Hunting at 7:20 AM

How many tournament officials do you know that actually test the DO in boat livewells containing limits of bass, release boat livewells, weigh-in holding tanks or “hospital tanks” containing a limit of tournament caught bass when the angler arrives at the weigh-in site to actually confirm that the bass boat livewell water quality is safe to transport all the fish in that livewell?
Posted by SMA
6/4/2017 5:59 PM
Excellent information -- thank you for posting it
Posted by silvertalon
6/4/2017 6:04 PM
Great article, Thanks! I still think that a 3 fish limit in lakes with Florida bass is the best idea. Skeeter Boats Series tx's in Texas went to 3 fish and its working good. I still think ice is the best way to start. Not too much but enough to keep the water in the low to mid 70's. When the lake surface water is like 88 and you catch a fish 10' deep, the fish was living in water 10 degree's cooler. So lets consider this (eg)- we fill our livewells with 88 degree water and close the lid, the sun heats our lids and the air layer between the lid and water is warmer than the ambient air outside. Or at least warmer than the water, bringing the water temp up over 90. Bass require a lot less oxygen in water that's 70. Dissolved oxygen systems for livewells are expensive but I think I'm going to try to improvise something for my Triton.
Posted by SlabDog
6/4/2017 9:40 PM
How about using this:

No livewell needed and fish survival rate would be much higher.
Posted by FishingwithRusty
6/5/2017 6:52 AM
doesn't this guy sell oxygen systems for boats?

anyway, great to get folks thinking about fish care as we come into the hotter months of the year. there are things you can do to help the fish:
RUN pumps ALL DAY!
add ice, to reduce the water temp
additives to reduces stress
vent livewells(VT-2)
run a bubbler
Posted by Hook1
6/5/2017 6:59 AM
All of the aboveboard helps but I think the best tip mentioned was a three fish limit. I'm 6'3" and 270 pounds. Would I rather be stuck in an elevator for hours with 5 people my size and larger or 3? Our group has only weighed in three fish since we started and it had definitely been effective and helpful.
Posted by silvertalon
6/5/2017 7:28 PM
Was watching bass live today and say Mark Davis culling- He just pulled 4 fish out of the livewell and just dropped them on the floor. Lucky for the fish the carpet was wet from the rain. Now I haven't fished as many tx's as him but would like to mention how I do it (fyi). I weigh my fish as I catch them and write it down on my marking board. I saw Tom Monsoor do this once and thought about this many times. It actually saves time in the long run. eg; green- 2.43. black- 2.88 etc. Now, anything over 4 lbs, I just clip them and use the 2nd livewell without weighing them- to save time. Chances are, they won't cull. Anyway, if I have a limit and then catch one over 2.43, I just grab the green float and fish and its real fast to trade them out and change the weight on the marking board. . Keeps them in the water rather than on the floor or hanging from a beam with holes punched through their mouth. I also use culling clips and just hook my scale on the clip. T&H sells them. Sometimes one will come off a fish but I carry a trout size dip net to scoop it out and then re clip it. . just sayin'.
Posted by FishingwithRusty
6/5/2017 8:20 PM
i saw that too with davis throwing the fish on the carpet, one of the commentators remarked about it.
Posted by silvertalon
6/5/2017 8:37 PM
Yeah, Aaron Martens was guest commentator and he said something too, lol.
Posted by TR20bh
6/6/2017 7:29 AM
Glad they pointed it out, but why don't they have an issue with BASS no-net rules which condone anglers high-sticking fish onto dry carpet & flopping all over the floor of the boat while they fist-pump for TV? Kind of hypocritical, huh?? If it's bad for the fish during culling, what makes it OK for fish landing practice?
Posted by silvertalon
6/6/2017 8:13 AM
TR20bh - 6/6/2017 8:29 AM

Glad they pointed it out, but why don't they have an issue with BASS no-net rules which condone anglers high-sticking fish onto dry carpet & flopping all over the floor of the boat while they fist-pump for TV? Kind of hypocritical, huh?? If it's bad for the fish during culling, what makes it OK for fish landing practice?

I heard it this way- When BASS first enacted their rules, they didn't want any nets in the way of the camera's. I expected to hear the no net rule was more about the sportsmanship and challenge of not using a net making it a more difficult task. Also, catch n release didn't kick in until around the 3 rd year of tx competition. I rarely use a net myself. Unless its a big un I don't want to try to boat flip. Nets are a distraction to me. IMO
Posted by TR20bh
6/6/2017 9:25 AM
That's the problem! It's all about TV & the money! Not about protecting the resource! I hand land everything, no matter what size. a couple of big cats have made me question that sometimes! LOL! Problem is, this is a delayed mortality problem! Most of these fish swim off only many die later due to infection & fungus that is more prevalent in post-spawn & warm water tournaments. BASS should be taking the lead in fish conservation, but they care more about TV exposure!
Posted by Tony M
6/6/2017 5:52 PM
The reality is that tournament bass care is always a personal choice made by all pro bass fishermen and amateur angler. Fish care is a choice, how much bass care he/she is willing to provide or not willing to provide for their catch all day (6-8 hours) in summer tournaments on their bass boats and in the livewells during summer tournament transports.

It makes no real difference if the public approves or does not approve of Mark Davis’s abuse seen by millions on TV because there are no repercussions. Mark dodges the “dead fish punishment” and there is certainly no scolding from tournament officials or sponsors. Clearly that type ethical behavior is acceptable in this day and time. I do not judge his behavior, I just hope Mark'sbass can survive that kind of fisherman abuse we have seen on TV. After all, it only fish.

The best summer tournament bass care has been well established over the last decade, researched and that research published in the fisheries literature for all tournament fishermen see and practice should any tournament angler wish to provide the best bass care possible all day for their catch in their bass boat livewells during an all-day transport.

If you have a moment and are interested in really providing the very best tournament bass care in summer tournaments for your catch in your livewell, here are a few of many fishery publications available. The degree for tournament fish care is always your personal choice whether you are willing to provide the best bass care or less than the best bass are. The line between providing the best care and less than the bass care is crystal and well defined for everyone to see.

eeping Bass Alive in Hot Weather, Tournament anglers encouraged to consider oxygen injection in livewells; June 15, 2011, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Department of Inland Fisheries, San Antonio, Texas - News Release Media Contact: Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277,

Oxygenation of Livewells to Improve Survival of Tournament-Caught Bass by Fishery Biologist Randy Myers and Jason Driscoll TPWP, Inland Fisheries Division, San Antonio, TX Publication 6/2011

Livewell Oxygen Injection Systems by Fishery Biologist Randy Myers TPWD, Inland Fisheries Division, San Antonio, TX Publication 6/2011

AquaInnovations Oxygenator - How Effective is It - by Fishery Biologist Randy Myers TPWD, Inland Fisheries Division, San Antonio, TX Publication 2-14-2012

NEW- OEM Bass Cat Boats, Tiger Tank Oxygen System – 2017

Hydrogen peroxide for bass boat livewells published February 14, 2012 by Randy Myers, Fishery Biologist, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries Division District 1D, Management 12861 Galm Rd. San Antonio, Texas 210-688-9460

Keeping Bass Alive A Guidebook for Anglers and Tournament Organizers
[PDF]Keeping Bass Alive -
By: Gene Gilliland [Gene Gilliland is currently the B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director effective January 1, 2014.]
Oklahoma Fisheries Research Lab, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Norman, OK 73072
Another chemical that has sometimes been used to treat livewell or holding tank water is Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2). Hydrogen Peroxide breaks down into oxygen and water in the presence of organic matter. However, this chemical can injure fish and should not be used. Most people have used this colorless, odorless, tasteless liquid to disinfect a cut or scratch. You can see it fizzing and bubbling on the skin as it oxidizes. Now imagine what it does in a livewell full of bass. The bass’ mucus coating protects its skin from the oxidation reaction, but there is no such protective coating on the delicate gill filaments. Unfortunately, anglers that use Hydrogen Peroxide think that is a little is good, a little more should be better. Wrong! Damage to gill filaments, suffocation, and death may result. DO NOT USE HYDROGEN PEROXIDE IN THE LIVEWELL - pg 21

This year, 2017, there are many types of livewell oxygen systems available for bass tournament fishermen use in bass boats to keep tournament fish and even live bait alive and healthy all day in summer livewells all day. Google: “compare fishing oxygen systems,tournament bass”

A decent tournament bass boat cost $50,000, a new shiny truck and trailer rig - $75,000 and change, a fancy tournament shirt and sunglasses - $400, 1 tournament rod and reel - $500. 00 and change --------- a bass boat with 4 water pumps, bells, buzzers and assorted switches $1,200,00….. and many fishermen say that a $200.00 livewell oxygen injection system that will absolutely insure safe dissolved oxygen water quality all day in summer tournaments cost too much money and those bass are not worth that much money, conservation or no conservation.
Posted by FishingwithRusty
6/7/2017 7:30 AM
as i said, i think this guy(TonyM) sells oxygen systems for boats..........................
Posted by Tony M
6/9/2017 10:08 AM
Three infomercial videos of 3 different bass boat oxygenation and aeration livewell technologies, the best livewell care is (pure 100% oxygen injection system with compressed welding oxygen) and less than the best livewell care.
Technically limited, Oxygenators (the volume of pure 100% oxygen this electrolysis oxygen generator produces while in the “ON CYCLE” is seriously limited), livewell water pumps and mechanical aerators are also extremely limited by Mother Nature (21% oxygen).

Direct livewell Oxygen Injection will help you take care of your fish, Fishery Biologist Todd Driscoll
Published on Jun 9, 2014
DIY Homemade livewell O2 system made with medical oxygen cylinder and medical oxygen regulator
TPWD also offers “a specked out livewell oxygen kit” with a preset (fixed-orifice) commercial industrial welding oxygen pressure valve that connects to all 540 CGA O2 tank valves on this video. This is not a medical oxygen regulator and the dose of oxygen is not adjustable to accommodate all day summer transports of heaver tournament catches.
Todd Driscoll, Fishery Biologist – Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Inland Fisheries, District Supervisor
900 CR 218, Brookeland, Texas 75931
Telephone (409) 698-9114
Major reservoirs in District 3D
Keeping Bass Alive in Hot and Rough Water Conditions, Joe Balog, a bass fishing Pro Oxygenator and aeration opinion/advertisement, Oxygenator
Livewell chemicals and Oxygenator (electrolysis device) advertisement, Published on Aug 10, 2015
An in-depth look into proper fish care methods with smallmouth guru Joe Balog. Joe has created a system for keeping giant bass alive during rough water conditions. For tournament anglers, less deceased fish can translate into a substantial increase in prize money!
Ever wonder how bass boat livewell Oxygenators (oxygen generators-electrolysis type) really work, technically? GOOGLE - “bass boat oxygenators electrolysis type”
The Full Story on Keeping Bass Alive in a Livewell – Johnathan Henry, a bass fishing Pro, Oxygenator and aerator opinion/advertisement – Oxygenator, air, livewell aerators and water pumps, ice, livewell additives
Published on Jun 29, 2016
Jonathan Henry is passionate about taking care of his fishery and the bass. He wants more people to be educated on how to keep bass alive in a livewell in the hotter summer months.
Ever wonder how bass boat livewell Oxygenators (oxygen generators-electrolysis type) really work, technically? GOOGLE - “bass boat oxygenators electrolysis type”
Different bass boat livewell systems insure different degrees of bass transport water quality and tournament bass care.
Posted by TR20bh
6/9/2017 7:41 PM
If you throw bass on dry, hot boat carpet, you can pump all the d... pure oxygen into the livewell you want and the fish is still probably going to die!! Is the plug for your oxygenation system finally over?
Posted by pinsandfins
6/9/2017 8:58 PM
Exactly what Ben is saying, if everyone local and not, wants this amazing fishery too sustain then these fish should be provided the upmost care. Point being.... Don't flip you're fish onto dry carpet. Flip em into your hand or net them if they are too big to flip. Every little bit matters, not for the short term to get them to weigh-in but to continue to grow the amazing fishery we have. RESPECT. Learn it and live by it!!!

Edited by pinsandfins 6/9/2017 9:01 PM
Posted by dnc 796
6/9/2017 8:58 PM
No, it seems like he does this all summer
Posted by Tony M
6/10/2017 9:30 AM
Here’s another interesting piece by Gene Mueller published 8 years ago.

Granted that the vast majority of summer tournament bass fishermen never have any summer livewell mortality issues primarily because they never catch a limit of fish heavy enough to over-crowd their bass boat livewell. The “dead fish punishment” is always a non-issue of no concern to fishermen that never get the "dead fish punishment."
Summer bass tournament related mortality is usually a big public relations problem for bass tournament directors after a major post summer tournament bass kill and the dead fish become evident to the public.

State DNR intervention and management was required to oversee irresponsible “cast-for-cash outings” (bass tournaments). Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Fisheries Service was motivated to action by a few conservation minded bass tournament anglers asking the DNR for tournament bass care help, they recognized a serious problem. The State DNR biologists confirmed and identified the problem and will now monitor more bass tournaments.

Here’s another interesting piece by Gene Mueller published 8 years ago… how this happened.

Anglers want more changes By Gene Mueller - The Washington Times Wednesday, July 29, 2009

As concerns the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Fisheries Service and the few new rules it put into effect regarding bass fishing tournaments, some local anglers [not all local anglers] would like to see more done to manage the “cast-for-cash” outings.

The regulations are a result of the recent deaths of 601 largemouth bass that initially were released alive but died within a day or two because of excessive water temperatures, low oxygen levels and being extensively stressed. What occurred is known as delayed mortality - a real dilemma that often is not taken seriously enough.
Because of the bass deaths, the service has said it will register all large tidal water bass tournaments. This will provide important information on the use of the resource and give the DNR a chance to contact tournament directors to discuss procedures and perhaps gather data on contest sizes and bass catches. State biologists will now monitor more bass tournaments.
There also will be a rule stating the water temperature inside tank-equipped release boats should be within 5 degrees of the water temperature measured at an approximate depth of 3 feet in the body of water where fish will be released.
*In addition, the DNR said the icing of individual boat livewells can significantly drop water temperatures and cause immediate stress to the fish, which is no good. Forget the icing, but better aeration inside the holding wells are lifesavers. Proper oxygen amounts for the captured fish are crucial. The DNR will require that bass are kept within well-aerated containers of water (near or above 100 percent oxygen saturation) before and after the weigh-in.

Henceforth, DNR personnel will be present at all large tournaments (100 or more boats); assist tournament directors in matters relating to fish health; measure oxygen in the livewells of release boats; measure the temperature of the water body and in the release boat; use tournament activity reports to give tournament directors a report of catch, angling participation and initial and delayed mortalities; tallying hooking mortalities, and assessing overall health of the fish; assist in the design of the weigh-in procedure with regional and national tournament chapters.

Future actions could include registration requirements for all tournaments, no matter their size, as well as telling all participants they cannot cull their fish. If you catch a legal bass, it must be kept.

Rules eventually can include sharp reductions in the handling of fish. (The Shimano fishing tackle company already has a system available that weighs the bass in water matching that of the body the fish came from and containing suitable oxygen.)

What the DNR calls “malicious negligence” by tournament organizations could result in a tournament registration being revoked for one year, perhaps longer.

After recent coverage in The Washington Times concerning the bass deaths and the DNR setting a few rules and more perhaps on the way, readers weighed in via e-mail.
“My hat is off to you for writing [about the Potomac tournament] and resulting fish kill,” Jim Davenport wrote. “Thank you for bringing this important issue to light.”
Said bass fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski: “I think the DNR recommendations are pretty weak.”

And Rzejewski wants to cancel all bass tournaments from June 1 to Sept. 1 because of hot water issues that can result in delayed bass mortality. He also favors a three-bass tournament limit that would give the fish more room and more oxygen in the livewells. As far as the state saying it will look at a “no cull” rule, the Coast Guard-licensed guide wants it now, not later.

E-mailer Carl Brown wrote, “Killing fish is OK if you serve them for dinner; returning them [to the water] to die is unconscionable.”
Bob Rice wrote, “The release of stressed, dying fish is tantamount to the littering, dumping and trashing of Maryland’s waterways and shorelines.”
Even Ed Merrifield, Potomac Riverkeeper executive director, agrees with the coverage of the bass kill.

“Your opinion [of these events] is spot on,” he wrote.

Then there were readers who complained that big tournaments using state park boat ramps prevent private citizens from using their own tax- and fee-supported facilities because the contest participants fill every available parking space. Local residents want to limit the parking for tournament anglers to half of all parking spots. The rest would have to remain open to the public.

• Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be found at
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