If you’re fishing deep, you should know how to fizz a fish.
We’ve all seen floaters arrive at our boat after reeling in a deep catch, or a few belly-up bass in our live wells, and there’s a technique known as fizzing that can solve the problem.
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The issue lies in the fish’s swim bladder, a unique interior mechanism that gives fish their buoyancy and allows them to move through the water without sinking or floating.
Barotrauma, as it’s technically known, happens when bass or other fish are brought up to the surface from the depths and their swim bladders expand, putting undue pressure on vital organs and jeopardizing their ability to swim.
Barotrauma isn’t lethal on its own, but can put the fish at risk of predation or getting run over by a boat.
Smart anglers, especially those tournament participants who frequently cull fish from their live well after catching larger ones, have developed a couple of methods of fizzing fish, and they’re both explained in full in this Texas Parks & Wildlife Department video.
Both methods involve needles, and specialized tools can be purchased to fizz a fish. However, a 16- or 18-gauge, inch and a half needle will work just fine for “side fizzing,” which seems to be the method advised by the Texas P&WD.
Remember, for fish over three pounds, wait about five to eight seconds for the air bubbles to release. For fish smaller than that, three to five seconds should suffice.