Summer Time Bass Tournaments….Good or Bad?

Today we are going to take a look at a very controversial topic in the tournament bass fishing world. The question: Should bass tournaments be banned during the summer months? Before I give you my perspective, let me give you a little food for thought. There are groups out there that would like to ban all bass fishing. People who think it’s a very cruel sport that causes major pain and anxiety to bass when they are caught. Now even though there’s been no scientific proof to substantiate this claim of pain and torture to bass, that doesn’t seem to discourage these groups from showing up at boat ramps in protest.

So the “who” people would mainly be PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). This group and others like them would like to see all hunting and fishing sports eliminated as soon as possible. They are the ones pushing their far left agenda to eliminate any and all hunting and fishing rights we as Americans have enjoyed for decades. They show up at tournament weigh-ins all across the country in protest by blocking boats ramps. This is why bass anglers today are being more cautious and taking better care of their catch and avoiding the black eye tournaments have gotten over the years.

Ask any tournament director and they will tell you they too hate summer tournaments due to the rate of mortality that can arise after the fish are weighed in. Anglers hate these events also because especially during the months of July and August, they spend more time baby sitting their catch than actually fishing since most of the time, anglers catch the majority of their fish before 9:00 AM. It used to be that hauling fish around in live wells for 6 hours or more was not good for the fish and caused unnecessary stress. But today, boats (live wells) are so much more advanced than boats ten years ago. Most are highly insulated and have great circulation. Once ice and live well supplements like G-Juice is added, they can be placed on re-circulate mode keeping the water fresh and cool. Some live wells even have oxygenator systems that inject pure oxygen into the water. One word of caution…if you add ice to your live well, don’t add too much at one time as you can put the fish in shock if you cool the water too fast.

The other problem has been after the release of the fish back into the lake. One problem that can arise, is the water they are released in. Too shallow and the fish an die of oxygen depletion. Shallow summer time water has low oxygen levels and if you add a lot of bass boats churning up the water, it makes it even worse. This is why having a release barge on site that acts as a holding tank helps prepare bass for going back into to the lake. These holding tanks also have chemicals added that add the slime protection coating back on the bass that may have been remove through handling.

One thing some tournaments directors have opted for to help the fish, is dropping the tournament limit from 5 fish to 3. This helps everything especially the fish! Anglers tend to like it as well since they don’t have to babysit their catch as much. It’s easier to keep 3 fish alive and in good condition for release after their weighed-in. It also keeps the overall mortality rate down with fewer fish being handled.

Now for my perspective…I for one hate summer time tournaments. It’s hot, the water quality is not as good, the fish usually bite early in the morning and you spend the rest of the day looking at slick water with little to no wind. Oh and did I mention its hot…with sweat dripping off your nose. Boat traffic can be an issue with jet skiers and pleasure boats taking over the lake after 10:00 AM so you try and stay out of their way. Another thing I have noticed as an angler who just turned 60, is that I don’t handle the heat like I used to. I’m literally miserable when the air temperatures get above 95 degrees. The difference between winter and summer time fishing, is that I can put plenty of clothes on to stay warm in the winter but I can’t get naked enough for those hot summer days to stay cool. I also take more caution today by using cooling towels off and on during the day while drinking plenty of good H2O. So if you haven’t figured it out, I’m not in favor or a fan of summer time tournaments but if they say we’re fishing, I’ll be there ready to compete. Good luck and good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!

Steve Graf
Hook’N Up & Track’N Down Show
And Tackle Talk Live

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