Friday, December 15, 2006

Baitfish Tranquilizer

There was a comment I added to one of the Posts in Florida Sportsman forum "Keys General fishing" that needed a little more clarification. So I though I would add that to the blog just incase y'all don't read FS. The use of Oil of Cloves to annestize bait is a little trickier than was stated in the forum.

First Clove Oil is fairly potent. When the baits chill they really chill out and have to have extra O2 added to the water because they don’t move enough to breath well enough on their own. Pinfish require less added o2 and ballyhoo require much more. The o2 added also depends on the volume of the bait tank and the temperature of the water. I had a 28 gallon bait tank, with o2 set at minimum which was about one liter per minute, two bags of ice to get the water to about 72 degrees F and two drops of clove oil (mixed in saltwater before adding to the tank) and the bait pump turned off. With this combination, I could overload Pilchards and get them back to the bait keep with very little loss.

If I had to keep the bait alive longer, that’s when the IV drip came in. With the bait pump running, a diluted mixture of the clove oil and saltwater was used to maintain the concentration in the tank. I had a 1200-gallon per hour bait pump. That’s 20 gallons a minute of saltwater changed in the tank per hour. The 20 drops per minute was an easy to setup drip rate, so I adjusted the clove oil concentration to get one drop of clove per 20 drops of solution. That’s one part clove oil to twenty parts saltwater. The ice was a one shot deal it just gave the bait a good start. Problems were, the bait pump flow would change. I little too much bay grass in the pickup and the whole load was in peril. The system showed a lot of promise. I was working on a venturi pick up that would automatically vary the clove oil mixture with the bait pump flow. Fortunately, (or not depending on your view), I started running too many trips to play with the design.

As you probably see, this is a little more complicated than most people wanted to deal with. It can come in handy for live chumming for Sailfish. Giving you enough time to overload the bait tank and travel to a good spot past the reef where you could put out a nice wad of live Pilchards for your first drift. After a couple of drifts, shut the system down once there is a normal load of Pilchards in the bait tank. SKA anglers might want to play with the system when they need to make 50 plus mile runs in tourneys.

The reason I started doing all this was to keep live ballyhoo overnight. I only had limited success, probably because I couldn’t keep the water temperature low enough. A water cooler cost more than I wanted to invest. My not too overly scientific experiments showed the system worked but there were still bugs to workout. The same basic system is used for shipping large fish with great success; it is just a bit trickier with smaller baitfish.

Tight lines,

Capt. Dallas

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