The Fish Saver Device brings bottom species back to the depths upon release.

Reel in a short or out-of-season grouper, snapper or sea bass? Heck, even an amberjack or redfish can show signs of barotrauma. Offshore bottom fishermen (that fish deeper than 50 to 100 feet regularly) know the signs all too well. Here’s the scenario: A fish is pulled from the depths, and the fish’s air bladder fills to distend the stomach out of its mouth.

The stomach sticks out like a tiny beach ball and floats the fish just as well.

If you’re not keeping the fish to eat, and intend to release it, it can be a real problem to get that fish back to the depths. Never puncture the stomach;  that does little and will likely kill the fish.  Regulators have demanded that bottom fishermen keep venting devices on the boat to puncture the fish’s air bladder. This is one way that allows fish to swim back down to the depths.

But there’s some skill involved to find that right puncture spot and not injure the fish. Instead, companies are building products that manually pull the fish back to the seafloor, and one such product is the Fish Saver Device. Here’s how it works:

Attach a retrieval line to the ring on the bend. Use a spare electric reel or use a handline spool to get the fish saver device to ocean bottom. You should also have a 4-pound weight attached to the clip that is provided with the hook. If the fish is large or bloated, add extra weight.


When a fish is caught that needs to be returned, insert the point up through the skin under the fish’s jaw and out its mouth. Be careful not to puncture the bladder if it’s protruding. (You can even use the Fish Saver to hold the fish while removing the hook to avoid contact with the fish’s slime coat.)

When the hook is removed, attach the weight to the ring at the end of the device. Holding the weight and device with the fish positioned at the deep bend, lower everything overboard. Make sure the weight is the first piece into the water. Then allow the line to spool out to the desired depth. Once at the bottom, stop the line and the fish will slide off.  Now, the device can be reeled back to the surface to be used again. For more information, contact Roys Electric Reels at 904-504-5276 or royselectricreels@gmail.com. FS

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