When you’ve seen a unique product or heard some unusual advice, you’re likely to remember it, and that’s exactly what we’re hoping for here. Keep these warm weather conservation tips in mind for your tournament fishing, even the unconventional ones — they might just save your bass.

Don’t Knock These Tips Til You’ve Tried Them

We’re ready: we’ve stretched a bit, cracked our knuckles, and loosened up our furious-typing internet fingers because there’s sure to be debate on these suggestions below. However, with fish lives at stake and tournament winnings on the line, we’d argue that all these tips are worth a try.

Drill Holes In Your Livewell Lids (for V-T2 Vents)

If it makes you nervous to think about putting holes in your boat, that’s good — drilling holes should always be a serious and very calculated endeavor. Thankfully, the process for installing V-T2 Livewell vents is both simple and fairly easy. It mostly comes down to proper location, holesawing, and fastening.

The installed V-T2s will then help your fish by continuously releasing heat and metabolic gasses, and allowing oxygen to freely flow into your livewell.

Clean Your Livewell and Rinse it Thoroughly

This suggestion might not be controversial, but it’s fair to emphasize how cleaning a livewell isn’t the funnest part of fishing, it’s often overlooked, and it can sometimes lead to more problems if done wrong.

Look for a more thorough walk through from us in the near future, but always keep in mind how bass can be harmed by both natural and man-made substances that can find their way into your livewell. Your livewell can then accumulate dirt, molds, microorganisms, and other contaminants, so it needs to be cleaned.

Be careful what you use to clean though because chemicals in cleaners can be bad for bass, too, even ones that claim to be more natural. Your best bet is to use a low toxicity cleaner that easily flushes out with a rinse after it does its job to release common contaminants from livewell surfaces.

Treat Your Bass to Some Frozen Sponges

This one may sound odd, but it comes from our friends at Wired2Fish and they know their stuff. It makes quite a bit of sense when you read their explanation, too.

Basically, you can wet a sponge with lake water, put it in a ziploc bag, and freeze it so it’s ready to go in your livewell and cool your livewell water. This is pretty much the same concept as the ice cubes we mentioned in one of our previous blog posts about conservation tips, however, there are added benefits.

  1. The sponges are soft surfaces for bass to brush up against instead of the hard surfaces within a livewell.
  2. The sponges can feel like cover for bass, especially if they are wrung out and floating, and this can help them feel more at home and reduce stress.

We say it’s worth a try!

Be Ready to Correct Air Bladder Issues

If a fish is in distress because of air bladder issues, particularly fish that were caught in deep water, anglers have to be ready to help that fish so it doesn’t go belly up and die. The first line of defense is minimal handling and getting the fish back in water quickly. This won’t always solve the issue though if the bass was caught deep and it’s now going in your livewell.

Fizzing is a popular method of releasing excess air from the fish, though it remains controversial. Since fizzing requires puncturing the bass in just the right spot, you just want to make sure you do it right. Otherwise, you’ll just be trading an immediate danger for the long term threat of infection and internal bleeding.

As an alternative, we’d recommend trying G-Force Cull System weights first. Just like our Conservation Cull System, they’re non-puncturing and they’re often just enough to keep your bass pointed in the right direction so its body can regulate itself and it can adjust to its new depth in your livewell.

Invest in Systems that Make it Easier for Bass to Breathe

Beyond the V-T2 Livewell Vents mentioned above, there are other systems and installations that can provide you with even more of an edge to keep those bass breathing easy.

Oxygenation is a critical factor, especially when it’s warm, so if your boat isn’t already equipped with a Venturi Aerator, an Oxygenator, and/or a Pro Air System, they are must-have items. The concept is similar to what you’d see in an aquarium, but it’s custom-made for your boat.

Consider How Lighting Can Matter

You don’t have to search far in boat forums and tournament fishing forums before you find debate about livewell lighting and what light color to use. Those debates usually revolve around two main ideas: 1) how livewell lighting helps fish see their surroundings and 2) how certain light colors can be more or less natural for fish, thus more or less stressful.

We hope to do some more scientific research when it comes to livewell light color selection, but even if we don’t have conclusive evidence pointing to one color over another making a significant difference, it is something worth considering. The bottom line, however, is that it’s helpful to have some sort of waterproof, not-too-bright light source.

This is important because your fish are likely going from a normal day in open water to complete darkness in a confined space. If they can’t see their surroundings, then it will be harder for them to avoid the walls of the livewell and they are more likely to get banged up and stressed out.

The Old Wet Towel Trick

The lid of your livewell gets hot, the livewell gets hot, the water gets hot, your fish get hot, and then their morbidity rises. We’ve talked about ways to increase air flow and oxygenation, but some hot days require additional insulation.

This is where it pays to keep one or two thick bath towels or beach towels on your boat. If you want to quickly add an extra layer of insulation to your livewell lid, simply dip the towel in the lake and layer it on top.

For best results, don’t cover potential spots that would otherwise allow airflow, like all the edges of the lid or livewell vents and remember to stow them before gunning it. Also, think twice before using any fancy towels that could get you in trouble if they got stained or went missing.

More Warm Weather Conservation Tips for Tournament Fishing

Did you catch our previous post with more conventional conservation tips for warm weather tournament fishing? If not, make sure to check it out here. Then head on over to our conservation gear collection to stock up on what you need to keep your fish alive.