It's all about money, bass
By Gene Mueller
May 3, 2006
The Washington Times
If you don't believe it's all about money, check out the FLW Outdoors organization that underwrites bass, walleye, redfish and kingfish tournaments. It now has come up with a new idea the fishing world could do without: striped bass tournaments.
Two of them are scheduled for our region. One will be in Cambridge on Maryland's Eastern Shore on Nov. 4. A championship event will be at Virginia Beach on Dec. 7-9.
This is the same outfit that brags about its high success rate in live-release bass tournaments in the tidal Potomac River even when the water temperature in the contestants' boat livewells reaches 90 degrees. How many bass do you believe will have died a day or two after suffering the extreme stress of being confined in hot water for six to eight hours? For those who believe FLW's 98-percent survival rate claims, listen up.
What do you think will happen when the quickest-to-die species in the Chesapeake Bay is the object of the money grubbers' affection? Rockfish never do well in the tight confinement of a livewell box. Stress a striper and it's a goner no matter how hard the aerator pumps water.
All the same, the FLW says its $1 million striped bass tournament circuit kicks off June 3. It will feature seven $125,000 qualifying tournaments on Saturdays, plus a $150,000 championship. Teams ranging in size from two to four anglers will compete for a top award of $20,000 in each qualifier and as much as $50,000 based on boat and engine bonuses from sponsors. The top 25 teams from each qualifier advance to a three-day championship, where they will compete for a share of $150,000, including a top award of $50,000.
In the striper qualifying tournaments, each team is allowed to weigh in two fish ranging from 28 to 34 inches (unless local regulations dictate otherwise). How many will face delayed mortality when released after anglers play the culling game. The FLW says the fish must be kept in new keep-alive boxes developed by FLW Outdoors that will be available for purchase or rented during registration.
FLW says the boxes will allow all FLW striper tournaments to be catch-and-release events "thus helping to protect the nation's striped bass population and ensure a vibrant fishery for generations to come. Teams will be charged a two-pound penalty for any fish that is not weighed in alive."
Good luck with that. Having fished for striped bass in the Chesapeake for nearly 50 years, I have yet to see even one striper survive an all-day fishing trip in a livewell, even a big one.
It's all about money, nothing else.
If you think that those "boxes" or the "Striper Tubes" developed by the NSBA will prevent the deaths of fish you are sadly mistaken, read this from the NSBA and keep in mind it the stidy was done on freshwater, landlocked striped bass:
NSBA Striper TubeTM report
A study was recently conducted by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Fishery Research Group to evaluate the use of the NSBA â€œStriper Tubeâ€ as a viable catch-hold-and-release tool to allow the culling of live striped bass during fishing tournaments. The AFS results are in and the findings of the study have shown 100% success in the cooler weather conditions (Mid-Late fall, Winter, Early-Mid Spring)
and that NSBA Tube does in fact work. There are still environmental limitations that restrict the effectiveness of releasing live stripers during periods of warm or hot water conditions. Here are some brief bullet points of the study:
Summary of AFS Striper TubeTM report
â€¢ The Study was a spring and summer study, with separate results from both â€“ and separate analysis from both. The study states that during cooler weather there was zero mortality of striped bass held in the Striper TubeTM. During cooler weather periods, the study findings support the NSBA endorsement of using the Striper TubeTM as a culling device for striped bass on the water â€“ like largemouth fishermen do with the traditional live wells for culling smaller largemouth â€“ thus clearing the way for late fall, winter and early spring use of Striper TubesTM to cull live striped bass and to bring them alive to tournament weigh-ins.
The Striper TubeTM performed as a tool of keeping striped bass alive in both study periods, but environmental conditions affect their ability to be used effectively during hot surface water periods as a culling tool for striped bass. The scientific study findings clearly show the recovery of striped bass held in Striper TubesTMâ€“ even during hot summer months when survival rates are at the lowest. This was done by blood analysis and charting of the physiological reaction of striped bass angled and released â€“ and angled and held in Striper TubesTM before releasing.
â€¢ The study states that further study is needed for tournament handling of larger striped bass (over 35 lb. class fish), and that the Striper TubeTM does indeed serve its designed purpose (even in hotter weather). This could also potentially be combined with an alternative method of returning the fish to cooler water columns to improve the survival of striped bass during hot summer periods. (Side note** the larger fish and tournament handling portion of this recommendation has been completed by Shawn Young via PHD requirements through Clemson University.)
â€¢ The study states that despite the recovery of the striper in Striper TubesTM, the summer mortality was over 80% and thus the recommendation from these fisheries scientists explained that the current creel and size limits are probably ineffective in managing striped bass (specifically on Lake Murray) during hot summer periods. The recommendation also states that a moratorium of striped bass fishing during the Julyâ€“August period may be the best management tool. As an additional recommendation is to ban the release of striped bass during these extreme hot weather periods. In other words, summertime fishing means catch a limit and quit.
Summary and Actions: To summarize, the study can be broken down into two main findings. First the Striper TubesTM work and should be endorsed as a culling device in cooler water periods. Second, the study shows that striped bass that had recovered physiologically to near normal blood chemistry levels in the Striper TubeTM during summer periods had a better survival rate then fish released by the boat without holding them to recover in the Striper TubeTM. However, the mortality rate of these â€œrecoveredâ€ fish was still significant and should lead state and federal agencies to reconsider their current management programs for striped bass during hot summer periods.
The NSBA accepts and endorses the recommendations of the biologists including the increased restrictions during the summer.
â€¢ The NSBA will maintain its reduced emphasis on summer tournaments and will impose the following restriction on tournaments owned and sanctioned by the NSBA in the freshwater and saltwater striped bass fisheries.
Striper TubesTM may be used to cull live fish during tournaments for any period where the results prove acceptable, except:
During the period from July 1 to September 15, all NSBA and NSBA sanctioned tournament rules will be modified to state that the tournament â€œCatchâ€ limit is the legal creel limit and all participants must quit fishing and leave the water as soon as they catch a number of striped bass (includes hybrid striped bass) that equal to the legal creel limit for their boat. We hope our example will be followed by other striped bass clubs and associations.