How to help a fish with barotrauma – deep sea fishing

If you’ve ever been deep sea fishing, you know that sometimes you reel up a fish that has suffering from barotrauma. This is when they come up too fast and the change in pressure causes their stomach (or other fishy parts) to become bloated.

To avoid this, you can bring the fish up slowly. This isn’t always the easiest thing to do in the moment because when you’re battling a big grouper, really the last thing on your mind is going slow. Any slack in the line could give the fish an opportunity to get loose from the hook, not to mention the very fish you caught might be bait for a BIGGER fish if you bring it up slowly. Kind of like this big fish, or the one in the video below.

So you got the fish to the boat and sure enough, the pressure got to it. If you unhook it and throw it back in, the fish will just float at the top of the ocean because all the gases keep it from being able to swim back down. Don’t fret, there are solutions! Check out this video from the Florida Wildlife Commission on how to use a descending device to safely get the fish back down to the bottom of the ocean.

Using the instructions from another video from the FWC, I created a homemade descending device. There are 3 parts to this DIY project: a crate, a rope, and weights. Believe it or not, it took me a few days, up to a week, to find all these parts. The most difficult was the weights so I actually had to improvise as you’ll see in the pictures below. Instead of fastening weights to the crate, I wrapped chain around the bottom portion. Sure, this chain will rust eventually, but it’s very easy to replace once replacement is needed. The chain provides the weight needed (proportionally) to safely get the crate with the fish inside down to the proper depth. I picked up the crate at an estate sale, and the rope can be purchased at most hardware stores.

Have you tried a particular method to help fish return to the deep sea? What has worked and what hasn’t? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by…

-Out of the Wilderness

Published by Ben Wilder

Since 2005, I've called Nashville home. I'm the leader of the pack, which includes an 11-year-old beagle and a 9-year-old blue heeler mix. My days include writing, video editing, dog boarding, and other fun activities. Thanks for checking out my blog, I hope you enjoy it!

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