While many of the fish we catch when we’re on a Destin inshore fishing or offshore fishing trip make for great eating, some are either game fish, not great for eating, or are protected by catch and release programs because of their populations numbers. Since we want to make sure that we’re taking you fishing for many years to come, we are careful to stay on top of what we are allowed to catch, and which fish need to go back in the water.
As part of this, we heard about a recent study that was done in Gainsville about what happens to fish that are rapidly brought up from very deep waters, such as around the reefs, and then released back into the water.
If you’re a fan of water based disaster movies—think James Cameron’s The Abyss—or of scuba diving, you probably know that when people go from deep waters to more shallow waters too quickly, they can suffer from something called “the bends,” where the pressure in their body doesn’t equalize. This can be painful, scary, and even fatal.
What not all casual fishers know is that fish can suffer the same condition. In fish, it’s called barotrauma. When fish are reeled up quickly from very deep waters, their swim bladders, a gas filled organ, can rupture, which causes their bodies to fill with gas, threatening their lives. Fishers can recognize that this is happening if a fish has bulging eyes, a bloated belly, or its stomach bulging out of its mouth. Because of this, even if a fish is released, it can be difficult or impossible for the fish to swim back down to its natural habitat. If the fish isn’t assisted, it can die.
Researchers from the University of Florida felt that managing this condition was crucial for maintaining the health of Florida’s fisheries. They surveyed almost 750 fishers who like to target deep sea fish. Around 70 percent of the responding fishers said that they’d seen some signs of barotrauma when they were fishing, and nearly all of them used a venting tool to help the fish recover before putting them back in the water. Fishers told the UF researchers, however, that they felt they could use additional training on how to use the tool properly, to help the fish survive.
We carry these tools as part of our deep sea fishing kit, as well as the descending tools that help fish return to their original depths. These are small weighted pieces that attach to the fish’s mouth.
Captain Mike has been fishing on the Emerald Coast of Florida for 30 years, and as such, he’s seen many changes to the industry. Different fish have had their numbers nearly depleted, and then be restored through quality fish husbandry practices. We want to make sure that we’re continuing to fish in this area for many years to come, and as such, we do everything in our power to follow responsible, green fishing practices.
When you book your Destin inshore fishing or offshore fishing trip with us, you get the benefit of experience and the thrill of a fishing trip that doesn’t damage the natural environment that makes it possible. Contact us today to enjoy the fun of fishing, all year ’round!