Every angler has been there, you have that monster fish in your livewell that is thrashing around one moment, then the next time you open your livewell it is floating upside down. It sucks. There are ways to avoid this, first and foremost you should have a good aerator system, these are more or less mandatory.
The great Doug Hannon has said that everyday problems can have everyday solutions; this can be true when you need to get higher oxygen levels in your livewells. Every household has Hydrogen Peroxide as part of their medical kit but most people don’t know that this everyday product is actually just H2O2, yeah, that’s water with an extra oxygen molecule. That extra oxygen molecule can help to saturate the livewell with the vital oxygen that fish need to survive, but it has to be in very small concentrations. For example, if you have a 15 gallon livewell you would use 4oz of Peroxide. Some people will say you should use 1oz per 3gallons of water but a bleached fish is a dead fish, we don’t want that. I personally would stick with using the smallest amounts as possible to try to avoid overdoing it.
There are also more commercial options you can take to keep your fish’s livewell full of essential oxygen. Many companies have pumped out chemicals you can put in your livewell but I only really trust what commercial fishermen use. My theory behind this is if they lose their livewell full they can go from $200,000 a shipment to $0, so they require something that is going to keep the fish alive for long periods of time. Time after time I have been told most commercial fishermen use a product called “Sure-Haul” that is produced by Kent Marine. This product is said to reduce stress of the fish in the livewell, this will help to keep oxygen levels high and make the fish easier to handle when culling.
Some anglers also believe that chemicals should stay out of the livewells, I am one of these anglers. Fish can survive and be relaxed as long as you maintain the water temperature; this can be done by putting ice in the water periodically to ensure the water temperature stays down to a comfortable level. The secret to keeping fish alive is to keep their stress down, keeping stress down causes them to use less oxygen because they aren’t moving as much water through their gills. The most common and efficient way to keep oxygen flowing into the livewell though is an aerator, these are standard and will help keep your catch alive well past your day out on the water.
Remember, a stressed fish can easily become a dead fish.
This tip is sponsored by Rippn-Lips Tackle; Helping the fishing world catch fish one lip at a time!