Want to release a big fish that you’ve brought up from the depths, but it’s gone belly-up? Try to fizz that fish and you have a good chance of releasing it unharmed.
Generally speaking it’s tough to release a big walleye caught from around 30 feet or deeper water. A lot of the time they will go belly up in the live well. If that happens, try to “fizz” that fish and release it to swim and fight another day.
Famed angler Ted Takasaki demonstrates this technique for fizzing a fish brought up from the depths. Frankly, it never even occurred to me that you might be able to revive or correct a belly up fish. If you’re like me and you’ve never seen this technique before, it’s pretty amazing.
I do know that many fish that are brought up from deep water suffer a condition known as barotrauma. That means that the fish falls victim to the change in pressure that generally occurs when you quickly bring a fish from the depths to the surface.
The air bladder expands and the fish doesn’t have time to adequately release air while its fighting on the line. As a result, when it gets to the surface it is often overly buoyant in the belly from an inflated air bladder. Tissues can rupture and the fish will die if not corrected soon.
In scuba divers a similar condition can take place if a diver doesn’t slowly release air in his or her lungs as he/she rises to the surface from depth. It’s also called decompression sickness, and can be as deadly to humans as it is to fish.
Takasaki shows how to fizz, or release, that pent up air from the fish’s bladder with the help of a hypodermic needle.
The walleye that he demonstrated on recovered beautifully; it was really quite amazing. It went from belly up and floating in the live well to swimming normally, and was seemingly unhurt by the process.
So, pick up a hypodermic needle, and the next time you catch a big walleye out of 30 or more feet of water and want to release the fish but it looks like it’s bitten the dust, try to fizz it.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.