EXTENSION CONNECTION: New options for gulf anglers

Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 03:04 PM.

Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is one of our favorite pastimes here on the Emerald Coast. Snapper and grouper are among some of the sport fish that anglers enjoy catching the most.

But did you know that these species — along with others, such as triggerfish, amberjacks and porgies — are reef fish, and what that means when you hook them?

Reef fish, when caught in deep water, suffer from barotrauma, or rapid gas expansion in their swim bladder. The fish is caught and pulled up on the line faster than it can adjust to changing pressure.

State and federal regulations require anglers to carry a venting tool, which helps to release trapped gases through use of a hollow sharp needle inserted into the side of the fish. While this method is useful in certain conditions, research for many species is lacking or inconclusive, especially in deep waters.

Fish descending gear use has been more prevalent in the Pacific than in the Gulf and South Atlantic. There are various descending tools available for anglers to choose and learn to use.

Devices include something as simple as a weighted hook-like tool — inserted in the fish’s lip — that is lowered back to depth until the fish swims off the device on its own.

The Seaqualizer, another device, uses pressure to release the fish automatically at 50, 100 or 150 feet, depending on depth settings.

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