Depressurizing a Saltwater Fish

The following procedure is not recommended for use with any freshwater fishes.

When releasing a fish that cannot right itself or is showing a distended air bladder, the bladder may be gently punctured:

  • Gently insert a thin point or an approved device through the side of the fish immediately behind the upper part of the pectoral finbase. This is usually directly below the fourth or fifth spine.
  • Let the air escape without pressing on the fish, then put it in the water.
  • Revive fish by moving it or facing it into the current, gently forcing water into the mouth and over the gills.
  • Watch the fish when released. If it doesn't swim away, recover it and try again.

More catch & release tips.