Bassmaster Classic Committed To Keeping Fish Alive And Well
TULSA, Oklahoma - The best of the best of professional anglers made the hour-and-a-half drive from Grand Lake in Grove to downtown Tulsa for the exciting Bassmaster Classic weigh-ins.
Bassmaster has a big commitment to catch and release.
With a $500,000 grand prize, these fish mean money for the anglers.
They're penalized if any of the fish don't make it back alive, so they take every precaution they can to make sure they're well for each weigh-in.
There are about 265 fewer fish in Grand Lake tonight.
Instead they're in Tulsa, getting set up to be center stage.
But before their 15 minutes of fame, the bass had to make the long haul to the BOK Center.
They travel by boat, and for them, it was like they never even left the water.
Reigning Bassmaster champion Chris Lane, like all of the anglers in the tournament, has a cutting-edge bass boat.
The live well is one of the most crucial components in any fishing competition.
"The live wells in those boats pump in lake water and they have aeration systems that recirculate and add oxygen to the water," Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Assistant Chief of Fisheries said. "So it's a constantly refreshed environment that those fish are being kept in."
Gilliland said the special tanks are insulated, so the water temperature stays about the same.
And even when the boat is turned off, the live well continues to circulate water.
"Obviously getting caught on a hook and line is a little stressful to the fish, but the live well is a place where they can start recovery," Gilliland said.
Once the weigh-in is over, the bass get to go back home.
The wildlife department will carry the fish back to Grand Lake each night of the tournament in this one-thousand gallon hatcheries tank.
They'll be released in several secret spots - so the chances of them being caught again this weekend are slim.
"When the water's really cold like this, the fish are not as likely to bite again for several days because their metabolism is really slow, they don't get hungry again for a while," Gilliland said.
Gilliland is confident that all of the fish will make it back to the lake alive.
That means in a few weeks, if you went out bass fishing on Grand, you could catch the same bass the champion caught.