As we all know, this time of year the water gets plenty warm and in the shallow end, in lakes and on the coast, the oxygen levels tend to drop. And being the good conservationists that I know we all are, we release most of what we catch but, I'm sure you wonder how quickly and how well the fish recover once they are let free. Here is a little trick I like to use and I think it works pretty well.
I had the priviledge of spending my 50th birthday fishing with Capt. Chris Phillips. My birthday is in early June and usually, the water hasn't really heated up too much by then. But, this day was different, no wind, no clouds, lots of sunshine and the water was like being in a bath. Chris and I were wading in about ankle deep water along one of his favorite shorelines when we spotted a big red coming our direction. Chris laid a spoonfly in front of the red, the red ate it and the rest is history. This red was pushing 30 inches and Chris wanted a photo of it so, we slowly waded back to the boat, fish in tow, still on the end of his leader. Chris carefully lifted the fish from the water, I snapped a couple of quick shots for his collection and we immediately placed thefish back in the water on the end of my boga grip to revive. A few minutes passed and the red didn't seem to be coming around too well. Chris and I discussed what we could do and I remembered that I had one of those bait aerators that run on a couple of D cell batteries. I had read an article that mentioned using one of these to add oxygen to the water to help revive stressed fish. I grabbed the bubble maker and, much to our good fortune (and amazement), the batteries still had enough juice to run the pump. We put the stone in the water next to the fish's head and in about 10 minutes the fish had started to show good signs of recovery. We removed the boga from its lower lips and after about 30 seconds, the red slowly swam off into West Bay. A perfect way to celebrate to the perfect birthday. (Actually, the real celebration was the following evening when we filled ourselves with boiled crawfish and Key Lime Pie but, that story is for another time).
In the years since, I have always tried to keep have my bait bubbler in my bag for just such instances and so far, the results have all been positive. While I have used this successfully in the salt, I have no douht that it will work just as well in fresh water, as well. And, with a little care and maintenance, this little wonder will last a while. So, with that, I hope you all have plenty of chances to try this tip out.
Tight lines, Chris