Bass get careful transport home to Grand Lake
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Saturday, February 23, 2013
2/23/13 at 6:42 AM
Watch videos and view slideshows: Watch a timelapse video of the launch. See a slideshow from the first day, and much more.
Follow along during the event: See unofficial estimates throughout Saturday
Tour the lake: Using Google Earth, World outdoors writer Kelly Bostian gives you a tour of Grand Lake.
Anatomy of a bass boat: We have an interactive map detailing the equipment on a bass boat.
It's quite a journey for the fish involved in the Bassmaster Classic. Getting caught is just the first step.
After being weighed on stage at the BOK Center, the fish are dropped into a storage container, and a volunteer races about 50 yards to get them to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's 1,000-gallon fisheries truck.
"We call them fish runners for a reason," said Noreen Clough, national conservation director with BASS.
Gene Gilliland, the Department of Wildlife Conservation's assistant chief of fisheries, will drive the bass caught each day during the tournament back to Grand Lake, where they will be released.
Each angler can bring a maximum of five fish to Tulsa in their boats' live well for the weigh-in. With 53 competitors, that's up to 265 fish transported back and forth each of the three days.
The fish will be released back into Grand Lake at a variety of spots each day.
"We're working with the (Grand River Dam Authority) to get access to several different locations," Gilliland said. "We'll spread them back around the lake each of the three days."
The hour and a half commute from Grand Lake to the weigh-in site in Tulsa is one of the longest for the anglers in recent Bassmaster Classics, Clough said.
The amount of time the fish are in captivity is about the same, though, Gilliland said. The time the weigh-in starts is the same at every tournament, which means the anglers actually have less time on the lake, but the fish can be in the live wells the same amount of time.
The water in the live wells is recirculated while the boats are on the lake, and while the boats are on the road to the weigh-in, the tanks are aerated.
If a fish dies before the weigh-in, the angler is penalized half a pound, Clough said.
"They're in very good care and very good shape," she said. "We expect a very high survival rate. (Gilliland) thinks we may have 100 percent live release."
In recent years, Bassmaster Classic tournaments have typically been held in more southern states, such as Florida and Louisiana, where temperatures don't dip too low.
Tulsa is the farthest north and west BASS has come for the Classic in recent history, Gilliland said, but winter temperatures actually help when it comes to catching and releasing the bass.
When the water is cold, the fish actually handle the stress of catch and release very well, he said, adding that "from a fish-health standpoint, it's almost ideal conditions."
It's BASS policy that the fish are returned to the lake of origin, Clough said.
From a biological standpoint, releasing them isn't really necessary, Gilliland said.
The number of fish removed from Grand Lake over the three-day tournament "wouldn't hurt the bass fishing," he said, but it might hurt morale. "Here at Grand, people think of those fish as 'our fish,' and they want to see them come back."
Original Print Headline: Bass get careful transport back home to Grand Lake
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465
Matt Gamble (left) takes a container of fish from Kelley Smith to be stored safely after their weigh-in during the Bassmaster Classic weigh-ins at the BOK Center in Tulsa. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World