Fish stressing in high water temperatures

   The August heat continues to keep the water temperatures in Barren River Lake hot, which forces stress on fish.
   While bass tournaments can move to night to help fishermen avoid the heat, the bass caught in those tournaments continue to suffer from the heat, with stress of hot water temperatures and lower oxygen levels. Late summer into early fall presents considerable stresses to bass just trying to survive.
   However, there some simple strategies will keep more bass alive and limit mortality:
– Tournament organizers can shorten the length of tournaments held in summer into early fall. For example, shorten the time frame from 8 hours to 4 hours.
– They can also stage multiple weigh-ins, one halfway through and one at the end of the tournament, to reduce the time bass slosh around in a livewell.
   Anglers fishing the tournament can also employ some simple tactics to reduce stress on the bass:
– Play the bass quickly after it’s hooked. Don’t use underpowered rods and line for tournament fishing, forcing you to play the fish for a long time before landing it.
– Wet your hands before handling the fish as this helps protect the vital slime coat on a bass. The slime coat is the bass’ protection from infection, parasites and disease.
– Also, don’t let the bass flop around on the boat deck. The hot boat deck makes bass flop around after contact. The deck’s carpet removes the vital slime coat of a bass. Fight the fish and remove the hooks quickly; don’t let it flop around on the boat’s deck. Get the bass in the boat’s livewell as quickly as possible.
– Cooling the water in your livewell is one of the most important things to do when surface water temperatures rise above 75 degrees. Some area lakes have water temperatures pushing 90 degrees right now. Cooler water holds more dissolved oxygen than warmer water. Cool the water no more than 10 degrees.
– Adding 1/3 cup of non-iodized or rock salt for every 5 gallons of water in the livewell also aides in reducing stress on the bass. Non-iodized salt works as an anesthetic for bass and makes them more comfortable.
– Salt also helps bass regenerate their protective coating slime that protects them from infection and disease. Commercial livewell additives such as Please Release Me provide about the same benefits as salt.
– Run the livewell aerator continuously in hot weather and whenever more than five pounds of bass are in it. This reduces stress on the bass by keeping the livewell water brimming with dissolved oxygen that fish need to breathe.
– Exchange one-half the water in the livewell every 2 to 3 hours. Add the proper amount of salt and cool the water again.

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