|Livewells and Fish Care|
|Treat the Water|
|Run the Pumps|
|Refresh Every 4hrs|
co-authored by Louie Bartenfield
Most of us keep live fish in a livewell for some reason, be it bait, a tournament catch, or something for the dinner table. But we don't really pay attention to livewells and fish care. Whatever the reason you want to keep fish, you’ll certainly be disappointed to lift the lid only to find that your livewell somehow turned into a DEADwell. As temperatures climb and we get deeper into summer, it seems easier to kill fish than to try to keep them alive, but it really isn’t that difficult.
Proper livewell management can go a long way: I have seen gill-hooked fish bleeding like a stuck pig put in the tank, blessed, and read last rights, only to find them angry and feisty hours later after soaking in a properly managed livewell.
Temperature is the real killer with baitfish or gamefish in your boat. At water surface temperatures of 75° or lower, you really don’t have to manage the water. At these lower temperatures, simply select “fill” or “auto” and your pumps will draw fresh, oxygenated lake water into your tanks to keep the fish happy. Remember to switch to “recirculate” whenever running with the big motor to your next location or else you’ll drain your tanks!
For temperatures above 75°, livewell water management becomes an issue. Follow these tips, and you can keep your fish alive and lively all day:
1. Fill Your Livewell First
Regardless of temperatures, proper fish care begins before you launch the boat. Before you back the boat into the water, be sure your selection valve is in “recirculate” (pumps off) to close the valve to external water. This prevents the nasty ramp water from entering your well. Water around the ramp is higher in gas, oil, and other pollutants that may harm your fish, so get away from all that mess before you open the valve to flood the tank. Ramp water is also warmer and lower in oxygen.
It is best to flood your tanks first thing in the morning to take advantage of the lower surface temperatures. Then switch to “recirculate” and run your pumps continuously to saturate the water with oxygen –do this as soon as you flood it, before you start fishing. By the time you boat your first fish, the tanks will be ready to go.