Keeping Bass Alive

Tournaments attract spectators. The weigh-in presents a good opportunity to show how tournaments recycle the resource. 

The objective of these articles are very simple — maximize the survival of bass that are caught and released during tournaments. The target audience for this publication includes tournament anglers, organizers, hosts and sponsors, and bass boat owners, dealers and manufacturers. All of these groups have interests in, and responsibilities for, maximizing the survival of bass caught and released during tournaments.

Thirty years ago, B.A.S.S. introduced the catch-and-release concept to bass fishing. Through the examples of tournament anglers and the promotion of catch-and-release in BASSMASTER Magazine, this conservation ethic has caught on worldwide. Today, the vast majority of fishermen release all or most of the bass they catch.

What is more, B.A.S.S. has consistently improved techniques for conducting tournaments and ensuring long-term survival of tournament-caught bass.

Now, B.A.S.S. is taking the issue of bass survival to the next level in hopes of helping other tournament organizers achieve maximum survival of fish weighed in during their events. The recommendations in this collection are practical and necessary if the sport of competitive fishing is to thrive.

It should be noted that bass tournaments currently have little impact on an overall fishery. Other factors, including water quality, availability of food, amount of habitat and water level fluctuations are the controlling factors in the health of a bass population.

Still, as good stewards of the fishery resource, tournament anglers and organizers should set an example for others in the way we care for the fish we catch.

To that end, our authors have created a guidebook for conducting tournaments that, if followed carefully, can maximize bass survival in all fishing contests.

This information provides answers to these questions: Why do bass die? What is stress? What causes stress? How can stress be reduced? It discusses least-stressful ways to handle bass. Livewell management is described in great detail, including state-of-the-art techniques for aeration, temperature control, and maintaining water quality. Weigh-in procedures and release strategies also are featured.

The credibility of the authors is unchallengeable. They are nationally known and respected fishery biologists, and are avid bass anglers who do participate in local, state and regional bass tournaments. They own bass boats and have experienced the challenge of keeping bass alive during tournaments. Most importantly, their professional lives have been devoted to researching and managing bass and working with bass anglers.

After receiving a B.S. in Fisheries from Texas A&M and an M.S. from Oklahoma State, Gene Gilliland has worked for 20 years as a fishery biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation at the Fishery Research Lab in Norman. He works on improving bass habitat in reservoirs, evaluating Florida strain bass stockings, and for the past eight years, on bass tournament survival studies. Gene grew up in north Texas and has fished throughout Texas and Oklahoma. He is an active member of a B.A.S.S. Federation-affiliated club, the North Oklahoma City Bassmasters, and is active in promoting the sportfishing industry.

Hal Schramm lives in Starkville, Mississippi. He is leader of the U.S. Geological Survey Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and Professor of Fisheries at Mississippi State University. He has worked as a fisheries research biologist since completing his Ph.D. in Zoology and Fisheries at Southern Illinois University in 1977. Schramm's research interests focus on fish population ecology, recreational fisheries management, and large river ecology. He is an avid multispecies angler with a passion for acquiring knowledge about the ecology and management of fishes, and sharing it with fellow anglers.

As National Conservation Director for B.A.S.S., Bruce Shupp's task was to engage these outstanding authors and facilitate the production of this publication. Bruce is an enthusiastic bass angler, but he admits to little tournament participation experience. His 30-year career in fisheries management includes stints with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a fishery management biologist in the Midwest, and 22 years with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Fisheries. Spending 14 years as the Bureau Chief, Bruce acquired a great deal of experience in agency administration, but also gained invaluable experience in communicating with anglers.

Please contact the B.A.S.S. Conservation Department if you have questions or want printed copies of the publication.

Good fishing to you all.

James Hall

Why bass die — initial and delayed mortality (Next page)

Table of contents

Hard copies of Keeping Bass Alive are available for $3.00 each, please contact the Conservation
Department at 1-877-BASSUSA or conservation@bassmaster.com.