Many of you have asked for information on catch and release fishing, and particularly how to release fish caught from deep water which have blown up due to gas expansion. This release from the Alabama Department of fish and game in the United States provides some good tips and helpful illustrations. I use an epidural needle, which I begged from a doctor friend, for degassing fish. He did give me a strange look when I asked him for it though...
WHY CATCH AND RELEASE?
MAKING THE CATCH
Use hooks that are barbless and made from metals that rust quickly.
HANDLING YOUR CATCH
Leave the fish in the water (if possible ) and don't handle it. Use a tool to remove the hook or cut leader (use extreme care with large, dangerous fish). Keep the fish from thrashing.
REMOVING THE HOOK
Cut the leader close to the mouth if a fish has been hooked deeply or if the hook can't be removed quickly.
Use a large hypodermic needle (or similar tool ) to vent the expanded swim bladder on a fish taken from deep water (see graphics below ).
Venting trapped gases from a fish caught from deep waterUse the largest hypodermic needle you can find (#10 or larger) and remove the plunger. Insert hypodermic needle at a 45° angle, under a scale, near the tip of the pectoral fin and squeeze the fish gently. You will hear the trapped gases escaping. Make a needle clearing tool from a piece of stainless leader wire to clear any tissue, etc. from the needle and leave this tool in the needle between uses. Sterilize the needle with iodine or alcohol after use and store it in a safe place.