Fizzing of Fish
Fish caught and quickly removed from deep water often show signs of depressurization. The most obvious signs of depressurization are an over-inflated swim bladder, erratic swimming behavior, the inability to submerge when released, and/or red on the edges of the tail, dorsal fin, and/or mouth. Death can result from gas embolisms, predation or exposure if fish are unable to re-submerge, or from internal organ damage.
"Fizzing," or artificial swim bladder deflation, is sometimes used in an attempt to increase the survival of fish that show signs of depressurization. The procedure involves puncturing the gas bladder through the musculature of the fish using a sharp object such as a hypodermic needle.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's
Position on Fizzing:
There is currently no law prohibiting anglers from fizzing bass in NH. However, based on a review of the available literature on fizzing, the NH Fish and Game Department does not advocate the use of fizzing, pending further evaluation and research.
There are a number of reasons not to fizz bass. During fizzing, there is an increased chance of infection to the fish and the potential to pierce other internal organs. Additionally, although the most obvious sign of rapid depressurization is an over inflated swim bladder, there is also internal damage that occurs to the brain and heart (as a result of gas bubbles in the blood). Damage to the brain and heart is often the cause of death in these fish and fizzing will not correct for this type of injury.
In order to avoid bass mortality due to rapid depressurization, the best practice is to not fish for bass in deep water. If deep waters are fished, fish should be released immediately (paper tournament), as many fish are able to re-submerge when released within 1 to 2 minutes. Additionally, there are other release techniques besides fizzing available for releasing fish caught from deep water; see:
We strongly encourage any clubs who decide to fizz bass, to have one or two individuals become fully trained in this procedure and that these individuals be the designated "fizzers" at tournaments.
For questions, please contact:
Fisheries Biologist II
Warmwater Project Leader
New Hampshire Fish & Game Department
15 Ash Brook Court
Keene, NH 03431