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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was bottom fishing near Rivers Inlet this summer with a couple of friends. The fishing was insane; the hardest part was getting our baits to the bottom. As we were fishing in 100-250' of water, all the fish we brought up had their gas bladders extended. My friends simply tossed the unwanted fish back into the ocean, leaving them to die a slow death. I insisted this was cruel and not necessary, and at least attempted to pop the bladders as best I could, so the fish had a fightuing chance to get back to the bottom and were not left floating on the surface until they expired or were eaten by birds.

Which brings up my question: What is the best way to pop the bladder of such bottom fish (ling cod, rock cod, sea bass, etc.) that gives them the best chance to get back down and live?
 

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I try to avoid rockfish when fishing in deeper waters. Lingcod don't have swim bladders so are easily released without problems. This is a trick I have heard about but I have never tried personally. You take one of the dairyland plastic delivery boxes (or similar), weight the handles, tie a rope to the middle area of crate bottom. After fish is removed from the hook, place the upsidedown crate ontop of fish on water surface. The weighted crate is then lowered on the rope 40 feet deep (or more). The fish is kept in the crate as it submerges, because it is floated to the top of crate. Leave the crate submerged for ten minutes or so. The fish should be able to adjust to the water pressure again and can then swim out of the box on it's own. I can't attest to whether this works or not, but it's worth a try if your in an area with a lot of incidental rockfish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Actually, there IS a way to pierce gas bladders & minimize (not eliminate) the chance they'll die. I just can't remember exactly how, but saw charter captains in Florida do it when bottom fishing. I think they stuck a needle in through the gill plate, but it might depend on the species, how deep it was, how fast it came up, etc. I agree it is a waste of fish and I was pretty damn upset at seeing it. I'll just do a little more research and see what I can come up with.
 

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Yes you're right, some guys do carry a syringe to let out the gas out from the swim bladders. They clain that if this is done properly it will not kill the fish. Again I have not tried this, and I don't know anyone who uses this method. These are methods I have only heard about on the forums.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Avoid catching them? If you are bottom fishing (where allowed) exactly how do you do this? Seriously, I'd love to know. Large baits (for halibut and snapper) & hooks is one way, I suppose. But if you are targeting ling cod and others, what exactly should one do?
 
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fishing deep water. When you have fish on, bring it up slow, just like a scuba diver. Bring it up slow, and it wont form a gas bubble. But if you bring it up fast, it'll get the equivalent to . If you have ever had the bends, you'll know just how excruciatingly painful it is.

So take your time. I've pulled lots of fin fish out of deep water (over 100') and rarely had a gas bloat.
 

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They can still die if you dont see the bladder out of their mouths. Captain dave you can move areas or fish bigger baits or use other techniques. Lingcod eat rockfish also so you can use huge baits for them. I havent hit one rockfish fishing halis before but i dont fish them that much. Its not personal its just to bad to hear of people wasting them so much. I hit them fishing springs once in a while and feel s*&^y about it. Its part of fishing but if possible best to avoid.
 

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Here another question, what gas is in a fishes gas bladder? Is it CO2, O2, N2? Is nitrogen dissolved in water and if so how much, then can it diffuse into their blood stream... enough to give fish the bends? I doubt it N2... if it is we need another post about avoiding the bends for fish.

Have fun, Jason
 

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I cant advocate bladder piercing on an endangered species....just seems wrong. ??? Fishing for them at all is a bad idea the way their population #'s are these days.

If one is to fish for rockfish, fish a shallow area/reef (30-80ft) and bring them up real slow to avoid the "belly burst"...Keep ur catch if it does. Or if you hook a smaller rockfish, bring it in really slow and wait for a big ling to grab on. I've seen lings follow up a cod right to the surface, grab it and peel ya back to the bottom. Used to be great fishing 5+ years ago.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Not all species I caught off Port Hardy were endangered at all, nor was I targeting them. I certainly want an option for those other species, and it helps to have some options to deal with them. Certainly targeting larger fish is one idea, as is a slow retrieve. Nevertheless, this device seems like a good idea to have on board for those cases when you end up with a fish in need of help, despite your best efforts.
 

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Rockfish may not be endangered, but they are a very slow maturing species. They are very susceptible to over harvest because of this. I try to minimise my rockfish bycatch when fishing for Lingcod. It is possible to reduce your rockfish catch greatly by simply fishing a little higher off bottom. I try to lower to bottom then I bring the line up about 7 feet. This simple change in tactics will produce mostly lings with very few rockfish. Lings will readily leave bottom, where as most rockfish rarely do.
 
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