ALL Posted Jul 22, 2014 By: Rachel Moffatt Responsible Tournaments Include Live Release Boats Anyone on any tournament circuit will know that there is often a bad public image associated with fishing tournaments and derbies. The non fishing public, including those whose compliance makes these events possible, often link tournaments with massive fish kills, the remains of which are left floating near public docks and marinas. Public outrage at what is seen as careless waste of fish and destruction of fishery stock has lead to heated controversy over the viability of competitive angling in Ontario. Live Release Boats (LRB) are one way in which organizations can promote catch and release fishing in tournaments, while keeping stressed fish stable and giving them a transitional resting space to recuperate from the stress of being caught and kept in a live well before being put back in their habitat. Properly trained LRB staff are able to keep the holding tank water at the proper temperature and oxygenation level to ensure the best chance of survival for every bagged fish. They are also skilled in reviving extremely stressed fish and "fizzing" those with over extended air bladders. In Ontario, LRB are licensed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and report the numbers of fish released, as well as their mortality rates. Water temperature and oxygen saturation are checked at regular intervals and the boat must be manned by the trained crew at all times when there are fish on board. At the conclusion of the weigh in, the fish are taken to a suitable spot, or spots, depending on the amount of fish being released, and are carefully netted and released overboard. The boat then waits to see if any fish turn belly up and collects any dead or struggling fish from the drop site. Non-viable fish are placed in a cooler for consumption. An excellent example of a properly run LRB is the Long Point Bay Anglers Association Live Release Boat. The boat and crew attends tournaments all across southern Ontario, releasing thousands of caught fish and are helping to ensure the sustainability of competitive angling in Ontario. In previous years, fish caught in tournaments and derbies were often released dockside by the anglers who caught them. Excessive handling, rapid temperature changes, predation, and unsuitable water conditions all led to high mortality rates for fish, causing a mass of floating dead fish in the days after the tournament. Understandably, this led to complaints by cottage owners, marina and dock users and the general public and contributed to giving anglers, and especially tournament anglers, a bad reputation. The usage of Live Release Boats resolves this problem by actually increasing the long term survival chances of the fish, rather than just moving the dump site further out into the lake. All responsible anglers want to protect the fisheries that we use. We understand that they are not an unlimited resource and that they need to be respected and properly managed. By including a LRB into tournament planning, an organization can publicly demonstrate their dedication to sustainable angling.