Depressurizing a Saltwater Fish

When releasing a fish that seems unable to swim, cannot right itself or is showing a distended air bladder:

  • Gently insert a thin point or an approved device through the side of the fish immediately behind the upper part of the pectoral fin base. 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.
  • Hold fish upright in water and face it into the current, gently forcing water through gills.
  • Watch the fish when released. If it doesn't swim away, recover it and try again.

Descending tools are another option to safely release fish after capture. This technique does not puncture the fish’s body cavity like using a venting tool. In this approach, a specialized release tool is used to descend the fish to its capture depth for a safe release. Examples of these tools include:

  • a pressurized release hook
  • a weighted milk crate
  • a S-shaped wire hook clip
  • a weighted spring release tool

Watch this video to learn more about how to use some of these devices.

Catch and Release Techniques for Sharks

More Catch & Release Tips