UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

Jocumsen’s Fish Care System

Jocumsen’s Fish Care System
Carl Jocumsen

It’s funny, I’ve been over here for eight years now, and fishing tournaments for longer than that, and I only feel like I just got everything set for my fish care this year. The big thing I’m doing now is weighing all my fish.

I learned it through Josh Douglas, and he kind of dialed me in on it. I’d been seeing it, but didn’t believe it. I thought people were weighing their fish to see what they had, and that was it alone. I was like, “Just catch what you catch, and whatever you have by the end of the day is good.” Turns out weighing fish is part of their fish care routine. Plus, it’s smart fishing. There have been times I thought I had 16 pounds and would be sitting good, but I actually had 14 pounds, which wasn’t very good. I should have kept catching them and upgrading. 

The main thing is, when I first catch a fish that’s going in the box I weigh it. So when I have my five fish, I’ve got exact weights. Especially in these Northern tournaments, specifically when catching a lot of smallmouths, if I was using the old system and caught a 3-pounder I’d be going back, opening that livewell lid and putting my smallest on a balance beam. Then maybe balance beam another one, and then let one go. That’s a lot of stress on them.

Once I’ve weighed all five, if I catch one that’s close I can grab the scale, put the new fish on the scale, weigh it and if it doesn’t go it gets released. The livewell doesn’t get opened. As a result my fish have been so much healthier. I use a balance beam hardly at all now, unless it’s super close, and that has saved me tons of time now that I’ve got it dialed. Plus it’s better for the fish, and I always know exactly what I have.

There are tons of different scales out there. The one I’m using is the Rapala Touch Screen Tournament Scale. It’s got a fish clamp on it, and I save the weight right to the scale. I don’t need six cull tags anymore, just five, and I just cull off the scale. It helps prevent me from accidentally boxing six fish, and it definitely stops me from culling out the wrong fish.

Fish care has been huge with these smallmouths this summer, and I’ve been talking with a lot of guys while trying to get it dialed in. When smallmouth fishing, 4 or 8 ounces (a dead-fish penalty in most tournaments) hurts a lot, but it just stinks to kill a big smallmouth. Using those T-H Marine Conservation Cull System clips is great so I don’t puncture their jaw, and using T-H Marine G-Juice has been amazing. That goes in my livewell every single time now. I’ve almost literally brought smallmouths back from the dead with it when my pumps went off one time.

Mainly, I’m trying to keep that water temperature down and keep the stress level low. Stress is the biggest killer, and when you have one fish in there you’re trying to get rid of, even if it’s a good one, you might put it on the cull beam 10 times in a day. That’s just stressing the fish out, and causing the temperature in the iced-down livewell to rise.  

Now the system seems to be: Add ice in the morning, get out to where the fish are going to come from and fill that livewell up full, then basically run it on recirculate the rest of the day. Then I only add ice and G-Juice the rest of the day and maybe use fin clips or fizz them if they’re caught deeper than 20 feet. Jason Lambert and the Johnston brothers seem to have the same sort of routine, and they seem to be able to keep their fish alive really well. Since I’ve been doing that, if I cool the water down, put G-Juice in it and keep the livewell lid shut I’ve hardly lost a fish.

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