Consider this scenario: It’s the middle of August. The water temperature is somewhere around 90 degrees. A three pound bass is caught at 8 a.m., put in a boat’s livewell and then kept there, riding in the boat up and down the river at 65 miles an hour all day long. Then, the fish is put in a water-filled plastic bag, toted up on a stage in front of several thousand people, weighed, then thrown back in a huge fish hatchery truck to be hauled BACK once again to the lake in a couple of hours.
A fish could never live through that, right? WRONG.
Behind the bright lights, big paychecks, glitz and glamour of a big pro bass tournament like the Forrest Wood Cup in Shreveport recently is a humongous endeavor to keep the fish alive and return them to the lake. It’s amazingly successful.
Last week, there were around 1,000 bass caught and weighed in by anglers and co-anglers in the first two days (while there was still a full field) under those exact circumstances. The result?
“There were less than 10 dead-on-arrival fish the first two days,” said Mike Wood, LDWF Director of Inland Fisheries, who was on hand to witness the event first hand. “We had very few fish that were in stress when they got to us.”
The success story begins with planning, which FLW Tournament Director Bill Taylor is in charge of, and continues with anglers taking very good care of their fish in boats with amazing livewell systems that keep water fresh, cool and full of oxygen. At the weigh-in, the FLW folks take great care to handle the fish quickly and without stress. After the weigh-in, they were put in heavily oxygenated water that was pulled right from the Red River. They were monitored for survival, then taken back to the Red in hatchery trucks. LDWF hatchery personnel provided excellent care for the fish.
And FLW recruited high school bass club members from Benton, La., and Beaumont, Texas, to shuttle fish back and forth from the weigh-in to the tanks. They were a tremendous help and got to spend time rubbing elbows with some of the greatest in the sport.