Original Caption: After captured fish were checked and weighed, they were quickly transported to a specially engineered oxygenated tank. Later, they were allowed more room to move about in this pool. Held here for a short period of time, they were then released. Fishing Facts, Feb. 1975, photo by Carl Malz.

In today’s Throwback Thursday historical photo, a change of pace.  No smiling faces of tournament anglers today, just a pool full of bass.  Why?  If you’re familiar with the earliest days of catch and release on the Bassmaster trail, then you’ll know that they used a variety of options in those days to keep bass alive until they could be released back into the lake – even, occasionally, swimming pools.

The late Harold Sharp mentioned this in a post on our site, writing, “We had the weigh-in set up at an old resort on the banks of the St John’s in Palatka, FL.  The resort was closing down, and they were staying open just long enough for us to finish the tournament.  We were actually set up alongside an old swimming pool.

“Like I said, we weren’t used to seeing all these huge bass so when an angler came up with one, we’d weigh it and then release the big fish into the pool and put the smaller ones back in the river.”

Well, I finally came across an old photo of one of those bass-filled swimming pools that was published back in February, 1975, by writer Carl Malz for Fishing Facts magazine.  He was sent down to New Orleans to hop on the plane with press and contestants to a mystery lake, which ended up being Wheeler Lake, to cover the 1974 Bassmaster Classic for the magazine.  In his write-up, he included today’s historical picture showing just such a pool, converted into a giant livewell, and used during the event.  Look closely, and you can even see the reflection of the diving board in the picture.

There was no direct mention in Carl’s story about the pool, but he did highlight the early efforts of catch and release at the Classic, writing, “Each boat was also equipped with two Okiebug aerated live wells.  The aerated live wells are important features since great effort is directed toward releasing all captured fish alive and unharmed after the tournament.  In order to encourage the ‘keep your catch alive’ program, a bonus ounce is awarded to the angler for each live bass (over the 12 inch minimum size) weighed in.”