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Ed Guice
Culling Bass and Keeping Bass Alive by Ed Guice

Culling Bass and Keeping Bass Alive

By Edward Guice

The purpose of catch and release tournaments are to place fish caught and weighed in at the tournaments back in the water, alive and healthy, to be caught another day. Several years ago, I fished smallmouth bass only tournaments in North Alabama and Tennessee. These tournaments allowed only live fish to be weighed. This made me begin to think of ways to decrease the stress placed on my fish to ensure all the fish I caught stayed alive. I used a Catch and Release mixture, changed the live-well water several times during the tournament and used frozen 2-liter water bottles during the hotter months (water temperatures > 85 degrees) to cool the water temperature in the live-well. These live-well water changes did help improve fish survival rate, but I felt that my fished died due to handling the fish while culling. At that time, I did not have a T & H Marine Pro-Air System or a live well pump-Berkley Fish Scaleout system on my boat. I was using a cull system with big styrofoam floats. I lost some largemouth and spotted bass when I used these floats, however the problem occurred mostly with smallmouth bass. The smallmouth would thrash around in the live well trying to get the culling buoy out of their mouth. This caused the fish to become stressed and sometimes die. I believed the buoy was the reason. As a result, I started using large diaper pins to tag my fish. After finding the pins to work, I added color tubing to the diaper pins to make it easier to cull and handle the fish. I also used a Berkley fish scale to help me cull. I have been using this system for almost 15 years and it has been an effective and inexpensive culling system.

However, I found myself not satisfied with this culling system for two reasons. First, it placed a hole in the fish's mouth and the wire from the diaper pin would sometimes cut a larger hole in the fish's mouth when culling the fish. I also noticed how red the fish's mouth would be after culling them. This was a sign of stress on the fish. Therefore, I began testing several clips and snaps to tag my fish. Smallmouth would bite and break plastic clips. Metal ones worked but would rust and made a mess in the boat. Second, I was not able to cull my smallest fish quickly and accurately with-in an ounce. Most of the time one ounce or less does not matter, but it has adversely X-Tools & X-Culling Sysytemaffected me on more than one occasion. I decided to find or make a system that would save time, be consistently accurate, store easily and neatly in the boat and be fish friendly when culling. Several of my friends had used the Cul-Rite culling system. They were satisfied with its accuracy and simplicity of operation. The system works by using colored styrofoam floats with over-sized diaper pins. Once again, the fish would have an additional hole placed in its mouth and the culling tags would not work well with smallmouth bass. After several months had passed, I opened one of my bass magazines and saw a section on new products. It featured a culling system with plastic clips that had plastic sticks with numbered foam buoys attached and a waterproof scale. It is the X-Tools automatic X-culling system. I was not sure if it would work or if it would meet my needs. After testing this culling system, I concluded the clips worked well on most fish if the clip is placed correctly in the fish's mouth. The culling system met two of my most important criteria. It had to tell me which Berkley Tournament Culling Systemfish to cull with-in one ounce and it had to be fish friendly. I have been using it for two seasons and the scale is still as accurate as it was the first time out. However, I am still having problems keeping the buoys attached to smaller largemouth and spots, and smallmouths do not seem to like the pressure of the floating buoy.

Berkley has recently come out with a new culling system which requires little space, is fish friendly and the scale is accurate to 1/4 of an ounce. The Berkley Tournament Culling System (picture C) has plastic clips which are designed not to have an up or down part when placing the clips in the fish's mouth and the plastic clips have colored nylon cords connected to them (no floats) which will help the clips stay attached to smaller fish and smallmouth bass. The scale has a culling menu that tells you which fish to cull based on the clip cord color. The Berkley Tournament Culling System surpassed my required criteria. It is fish friendly, the scale is accurate to less than one ounce and the fish clips are easy to use and work well on smaller fish. The clips do not have floats and the complete system takes up minimal space (great for co-anglers). The Berkley Tournament Culling System retails for around $40 making it an affordable culling system. I will still keep a set of my old culling pins and my old Berkley fish scale in the boat for my co-angler to use and as an inexpensive back-up culling system for myself. The X-Tools automatic X-culling system and the Berkley Tournament Culling System are now available in stores, catalogs and on-line.

Contact Ed Guice: Email
Ed Guice is sponsored by: Ranger Boats, Evinrude E-Tech, T&H Marine, D&D Marine Lawrenceburg, TN., Berkley Trilene, Spider Wire, Berkley Power Baits, Strictly Bass Lures, Strictly Bass Rods, Castrol Syntec, Castrol Blend and Castrol Synthetic 2-Cycle Motor Oil

 

 

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