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Bite Me! Jigheads

By Louie Stout

Hey guys, we need to take better care of tournament fish we catch and that means doing more than tossing them off the end of a boat dock after a weigh-in.

I was contacted by a DNR official recently who told me he visited a northern Indiana public access the day after a tournament was held there. He counted 11 dead adult bass within 50 feet of the ramp. He said that was the second time in two years that he’s seen dead bass near the ramp after a tournament was held there.

The fish were released in a shallow channel where water quality was suspect.

“The fish now are stressed from the rapid water warmup and the spawning season,” the official said. “Please inform your readers to take extra precautions at all times, especially right now, when releasing fish.”

He encouraged tournament anglers to return fish to the main lake when conducting weigh-ins in shallow water areas lacking immediate access to better water quality.

The point here is not to condemn tournament organizations or tournament anglers, but rather use this unfortunate incident as a reminder that bass are extremely susceptible to irreparable harm this time of year – as well as during the heat of the summer.

Just because you toss your catch off the end of a dock at a weigh-in site doesn’t mean you’ve done your part. Consider the quality and depth of the water you’re putting those fish in and how far they must swim to get to good water to survive.

To alleviate future problems, we urge tournament officials to continually remind competitors to handle fish with care and designate boats to return fish back to better water conditions after weigh-ins.

We all care about these fisheries but we need to do more to protect them, even if it requires extra effort.

It takes Michiana bass four to five years to reach the magical 14-inch size limit. If you want to catch more keepers – and big ones - protect the ones that already there.