By Capt. Chaconas
Culling, time away from fishing or a move up in the money? Often mentioned…rarely discussed, culling mechanics make the difference in a sport of ounces.
Classic contender and FLW Championship finalist, BASSCAT/MERCURY pro John Crews turns on livewells moving the fill valve to “auto.” On the move, he switches to “recirculate.” Once or twice a day he turns the valve to auto and pumps in new water. Crews estimates weight or length.
Crews is using the Catch Commander digital scales this year and they’re working well. He’s still experimenting with cull clips using Gen 1 T-H Marine and he likes those the best right now. “Don’t let length fool you. I culled an 18″ bass with a 16.5″ bass one time.”
Fishing Northern and Southern B.A.S.S. TOUR and FLW SERIES, and former Classic contender, Skeeter/Yamaha pro James Charlesworth turns on livewells for boat check, immediately shutting off. “It’s bad luck to leave them on with no fish inside. Call it a superstition if you will, but all anglers know it’s the truth.” His first keeper goes into his driver side livewell. If he thinks it’ll be replaced easily, he places a float on the lip. He credits Skeeter’s Oxymax livewells for adding 100% pure oxygen into water. When Charlesworth gets his 6th fish he grabs that small one with the clip and the next smallest fish. If they look similar a culling beam sends smaller bass back.
Maryland angler Cliff Magnus has fished Red Man, B.A.S.S., FLW, and annual St. Jude events. In team tournaments, bigger fish occupy the port livewell and fish likely to be culled in the starboard. In draw tournaments, he uses the port because it’s easer checked from the driver’s seat. “I take great pride in that in more than twenty years of fishing tournaments I’ve only brought two dead fish to the scales.”
Filling livewells at his first stop, B.A.S.S. and Costa angler Bass Cat/Mercury pro from WVA Bill Chapman says, “When I catch my first fish, I may be on a school and don’t want to waste time while the live well is filling or drop a fish in a dry livewell where he can hurt himself or make noise flopping around and possibly spook other fish nearby.” Chapman picks fish up with floats with clips feeling this is less stressful than chasing fish around livewells. He’s not entirely happy with any clips he’s found so far but is looking to find one in compliance with B.A.S.S. rules.
Most co-anglers don’t spend much time using cull tags, especially when fishing tough fisheries. They are after a limit. If they are lucky enough to need to cull, then they start weighing smaller fish and then tag. Or just use a culling beam to keep fish fresh. They keep the 6th fish on the beam while checking against smaller ones.
Many areas and tournament trails require non-piercing culling clips. These clips also are color-coded to identify fish but are not supposed to pierce the fish when attaching.
Tournament anglers sit down on the job to monitor progress using sophisticated electronic devices to weigh and identify fish. With money on the line, balance beams make final decisions on which goes back! Pro anglers use products like Rejuvenade in livewells to improve survivability of fish adding ice to cool water when over 70. Bringing them back alive and calculated culling is a weighty component of tournament competition!