Taking care of your fish in the Summertime
We live in the desert, its Summer and it’s hot. For a lot of fisherman new to the tournament scene and for others that aren’t familiar with fish care this post is to try and help you keep those fish alive when fishing your next Summer Derby. Fish care in the Summer tends to be an issue each year, mainly because anglers aren’t educated or they aren’t comfortable with fizzing fish. If you are a weekend fisherman it doesn’t relate as much because your fish are usually released back into the water right after they are caught and can go back down to their comfortable depth right when they are released. Sometimes they will need to be fizzed but most of the time they should be ok. This article will also help you in the Summer time and Winter time as a most fish are caught deep in these seasons. You wont need all of the advice for the Winter but its great to have the knowledge to keep up the conservation in our lakes. Below are the most important items to have in the boat along with educational tips so you are always comfortable fishing Summer and Winter derby’s.
Working batteries and a working live well – If you do not have a working live well you are already setting yourself up for failure. With out circulation in your wells these fish stand no chance to make in the Summer months. I have inexperienced anglers reach out about tournaments a lot asking if they can use a make shift live well out of a cooler. That is not that way to go if you want these fish to live, maybe for bait but not for bass. In order to keep your live well running all day you need to make sure the batteries are in good shape and will allow you to run your circulation pumps all day long. For my boat I use NextGen Lithium. Lithium batteries have had such a great impact on the sport because of their long lasting batteries. You can charge them quickly and go for days with out needing a charge them again, which makes your odds of keeping your fish alive much higher. NextGen is a great option, reach out to Kevin and he will get you all set up.
Fin Clips – These are a MUST have in the boat all year long. You can buy them online at Fish Life Fin Clips and they come in packs of three. I would recommend getting 3-4 packs as you will sometimes need more than one clip on a bigger bass. Fin clips are great for anglers that are not comfortable fizzing fish. When fishing for bass at a deeper lake like Lake Pleasant you can put one of these on the bass if it goes sideways in the live well. This will allow them to sit up right and sometimes allow them to release the air naturally on their own. They don’t always allow the fish to do that, but at least you can keep them upright until you get to the scales. That will allow the fish care team at the tournament to fizz them and get them back in the water safely.
Fizz Needle – Fizzing fish is sometimes controversial and it can be scary for anglers that do not know how to do it, because if done incorrectly it can kill the fish very fast. There are two ways of fizzing fish, the way I prefer to do it is though the crushers. The second option is going next to the pectoral fin, count two to three scales over and thats where the swim bladder is. You must use a fizz needle, a regular needle will not work. If your fish is on it’s side in the live well it has to be fizzed if the fin clips do not work as it will have ZERO percent chance of survival. This next step is important as well, you must keep needles clean or the bass risks infection. I always have a few needles on the boat and when they need to be cleaned you need sterilize them for your next trip out. Fish Life Fizz Needles are my favorite needles to use so get a few packs and watch a bunch of different youtube videos to learn how to fizz. If you still are not comfortable stick to the fin clips and the fish care team at the scales will handle the fizzing.
Ice – This is great for us western anglers as our lakes heat up quick in the Summer. These fish are being caught at a depth which is a lot cooler, so the warmer temps can shock them and put them in bad shape quick. When your circulation pumps are always on they are putting the surface water back in your boat which is the warmest part of the water column. When adding ice to your livewell, don’t just dump ice in the box. Ice bought over the counter has chlorine in it which is harmful to the fish. Some other options instead of that would be to get some empty water bottles fill them up and freeze them. Bring a cooler on the boat and fill the cooler with as many as you can because they will melt fairly quick with the warm water. You can also freeze ice packs that you can re use, I like the RTIC Ice Packs.
Livewell Treatment – TH Marine G-Juice is my go to livewell additive. There are a few others on the market, but not all of them are compatible with every livewell. G-Juice adds electrolytes to your livewell at the same time removing harmful chlorine, ammonia, nitrates and heavy metals. Another great option you can utilize your G-Juice with is to put some in your water bottles before you freeze them, so when you put the frozen bottles in your live well it will replenish the livewell with G-Juice with each bottle you put in. It’s best to fill your water bottles with clean drinking water if you can.
Mountain Dew – This may seem a bit odd but it’s a great tool to have on the boat if a fish is gill hooked. As you know if the hook gets in the gills those fish will bleed instantly and sometimes a lot. Mountain Dew acts as a clotting agent to help stop the bleeding. I am not sure how, but I know it works so keep a can or two in your cooler
Oxygenator – The TH-Marine Oxygenator is a nice little addition to your livewell and you can get it for $200. The oxygenator increases fish survival by 35% by pumping in 100% pure oxygen in the livewell. Its fairly easy to install and goes on once the livewell’s are filled with water. This is not a must have but anything helps, I will definitely continue using them for each boat I have moving forward. Once you have the oxygenator you will only want to use G-Juice moving forward as other additives will ruin it.
If you can implement these tips for your next derby this will definitely help your chances of bringing healthy fish to the scales. For any of you Arizona anglers that are new to the sport and would like to get out on a guided fishing trip we can help you understand how to use all of these tools. To book your next Arizona fishing trip just click and fill out the form. We hope this helps you and please share to your fellow anglers that could benefit from this post. Tight lines!