Catch and Release for Puget Sound’s Rockfish: the Catch is in the Release – San Juan Islander

Now here’s a great idea, and an issue that I was discussing on the radio with Phil Andrus just last Friday. Congratulations to Puget Sound Anglers for trying something really different. 

Recreational fishermen have been practicing catch-and-release fishing for years. Anglers who fish Washington’s Puget Sound waters are no exception. The assumption has always been that the release part of the equation will result in a free-swimming fish that will survive. Barbless hooks, minimum handling, and quick return to the water have all been developed to insure high survival rates. But fish caught at substantial depths – 30 feet or more – present their own challenge and it’s a tough one. Fish don’t typically get the bends – that sometimes fatal nitrogen-gas syndrome that befalls human scuba divers who rise too rapidly from depth – but some fish can get something equally dangerous: barotrauma…. To increase the survival of released fish, marine anglers are using devices, like release weights and baskets, to manually lower fish to the appropriate depth before releasing them. Known as recompression, lowering fish to their natural depths in a controlled manner allows the gas to be reabsorbed into their bodies. This increases their chances of survival. This spring, Puget Sound Anglers, the largest fishing club in the state of Washington, dedicated time and resources to combat barotrauma. In April, the organization purchased 330 recompression devices, essentially a mechanism that allows anglers to lower and release fish to natural depths. The manufacturer donated an additional 100 apparatuses. 

Read the whole story here.

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