When fishing tournaments go wrong

What lessons can be learned from a tragic fish kill?


PAUL SHIBATA, environmental consultant and organizer of the Renegade Bass Tour.


Q: What should have been done to prevent the fish deaths?

In the simplest of terms, the tournament should have never been hosted at that location at that time. Smallmouth, which represent the species most likely to win a tournament on the St. Lawrence, are fragile creatures in the absence of sufficiently oxygenated water. Disastrous results could be easily anticipated given the backwater location of the tournament in the heat of the summer.

Fish care starts in the livewell. A host location immediately adjacent to the main channel would have provided the best water quality to flush through the livewells as the anglers wait to weigh their fish which can sometimes be excessive (two to three hours). The warmer stagnant water of a back bay supports less absorbed oxygen. Though not insurmountable, the weigh-in process exposes the fish to additional stress. Caring for them to the best of our abilities before they get to the tanks and scales will contribute to their successful live release. Of equal responsibility, the organizers should vigilantly monitor oxygen levels in the holding tanks to ensure that their aeration systems are meeting the fish care requirements. This monitoring (a license requirement) would provide an opportunity to correct issues thus mitigating negative impact.


Q: What should have been done after it happened rather than put the fish in a dumpster?

The MNR and, given the proximity, Bruce Tufts, should have been contacted in this instance.