TPWD, B.A.S.S. Celebrate Fish Care Success At Bassmaster Classic


FORT WORTH, Texas — When the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Hukwas moved from March to June, B.A.S.S. staff and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department began planning a new approach to the weigh-in process. Working in partnership, the organizations created a plan that prioritized conservation of the catch while also preserving the integrity and fan appeal of the Classic weigh-in. Officials today announced that the plan proved successful, with a live-release rate of over 98% back into Lake Ray Roberts.

“To see these results in Texas in the early summer was amazing — and a testament to both the anglers and our fish care crew doing everything right,” B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland said. “We worked with TPWD over the course of several weeks to refine the plan and define the roles of our staff, their biologists and our volunteer B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Directors.”

Organizers emphasized that the 98.4% live release rate matches what would have been expected had the event been held in March with cooler temperatures.

On Days 1 and 2, the entire 54-angler field had their catch weighed immediately lakeside with the entire field weighed on the same scale to avoid any weight discrepancies. Those weights were kept confidential, and the area was closed to both the public and the media. Each angler could then transport up to two fish to Dickies Arena, where their total weight for the day was revealed to the fans. The rest of their day’s catch was placed in B.A.S.S. Yamaha/AFTCO Live Release boats and returned to Lake Ray Roberts.

On Championship Sunday, with only the Top 25 competing, anglers brought in all five bass to be weighed on the scales at the arena.

Both lakeside and in Fort Worth, TPWD biologists and B.A.S.S. volunteers helped anglers monitor the temperature and oxygen levels in their livewells. After each angler showed their fish to the fans, volunteers took the fish from the weighmaster and placed them back in the boat livewell as the boat exited the arena. Once backstage, fish were removed from the livewell and handed to waiting TPWD staff, who placed the fish in a cooled, oxygenated fish hauling tank for transport back to Lake Ray Roberts.

“Fish care could not have gone any better,” said TPWD Fisheries Biologist Todd Driscoll, who coordinated the agency fish care staff for the Classic.

Over the course of the tournament, Classic anglers caught 495 bass, but the lakeside weigh-in on Days 1 and 2 resulted in 50% fewer fish being transported to Fort Worth.