San Antonio Bass Club


The pre tournament routine at my house gets frowns from my wife and kids.  It starts several days before the next tournament.  I am painting baits, sharpening hooks, spooling line, cleaning and oiling reels, checking out how crankbaits run in the backyard swimming pool, and filling my livewell with the garden hose to ensure that the aerator and pumps are working properly.


When a keeper is caught in a bass tournament, he goes into the livewell.  God willing, it is a good day of fishing, and soon we have caught more than our limit (5) of keeper bass.  Now we begin to cull.  So the livewell becomes a holding tank, on those fortunate days, for the smaller bass.  If the sixth keeper is bigger than any of the previous five, then we take the smallest out and let him go and put the bigger keeper in. 


The typical bass tournament culminates when the fishermen bring their fish to the scales, where they are weighed, and the fisherman with the most weight wins.  The fish are then released back into the lake.  The fish swim off, and we fishermen feel good that they are there to catch another day.  Or are they? 


Several studies have been done in recent years that show many of these fish, though they appear healthy when released, will later die (delayed mortality) and sink to the bottom.  The fishermen don’t see them floating and assume they are all alive and well. 



Tournament caught bass have the highest delayed mortality rates when caught in the Summer.  Much more so than Winter.  This makes perfect sense.  Bass metabolism increases rapidly as water temperatures go up – meaning bass need more oxygen, consume it more rapidly, at a time when the water’s ability to hold more oxygen is declining. Therefore it takes more aeration of the livewell water to keep bass alive at warmer temperatures.  In fact, most bass boats do not have the ability to keep oxygen at levels above 5 ppm, the minimum level required before bass begin to stress.


In an effort to help decrease fish mortality as related to tournament conditions, the SABC Tournament Committee has embarked on a pro conservation tournament schedule this summer.  They will be practicing CPR (Catch, Pamper, and Release)  for the months of July, August, and September.   There will be no fish swimming around in their livewells.  Members will catch fish; measure them; record their length, and immediately let them go back into the lake.  The tournament “weigh in” will be less dramatic, for sure, but there won’t be any dead fish as a result of stress related to livewells and weigh ins.


San Antonio Bass Club consists of approximately 100 members and promotes camaraderie, good times, the exchange of fishing knowledge, and family participation.  If you think this sounds like a club you would be interested in joining, please feel free to contact the club by calling tournament committee members Richard Drake @ 210 508 3184 or Wayne Bell @ 210-655-8217. 


Respectfully submitted by Dr. Richard Drake


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