The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is recommending fishing tournament organizers implement additional precautions regarding the catch and handling of fish during upcoming tournaments on Illinois lakes and waterways due to continued hot weather and drought-related water conditions.
Research has demonstrated that the water quality conditions in even the best boat live-wells can reach near-lethal or lethal conditions during the heat of summer. Although most research indicates that survival of bass caught in fishing tournaments is usually good, the mortality of bass brought to tournament weigh-ins is highest during the heat of the summer. With Illinois’ record-setting heat this summer, lethal conditions for tournament-caught fish can develop rapidly.
When considering ways to protect fish caught during tournaments this summer, the IDNR Division of Fisheries recommends that tournament organizers consider:
Reducing the length of the tournament and lowering the number of fish that can be brought to the weigh-in or reducing the length of the tournament reduces the amount of time that bass caught are exposed to the stress of declining water quality. Also, by shortening the length of the tournament, both the fish and anglers reduce time spent at tournament weigh-ins during what may be the hottest part of the day. By reducing the number of fish brought to the scales, the demand for oxygen and live-well crowding is reduced. In addition, fewer fish in the live-well will help fish maintain the condition of the slime coat that is essential to reduce susceptibility to infections after release back into the water.