How to Know When to Begin Fizzing a Bass
If you are fishing out in deep water, anywhere from 20 foot or deeper for most freshwater fisheries, when you catch a fish, it will most likely not have time to adjust to the rapid change in pressure as you pull it to the surface. Depending on the depth, a quick release may allow the fish to get back down to the depth it was caught in and stabilize, but in some cases, a quick release doesn’t do the trick. When the fish starts floating and its air bladder is bloating, it’s time to break out the fizz kit.
Below is a list of procedures on how to know if a fish needs to be fizzed or not and how to properly go about fizzing a fish.
The 5 Steps of Fizzing a Bass
- Upon catching a bass from deep water, it’s air bladder will expand with the pressure change. When released or put in the live well, it will float upside down which is a clear indication that the fish is suffering from barotrauma. From there, you get your fizz kit and get the fish ready for the “procedure”.
- To start, you will lay the bass flat and with your left hand (more comfortable for me, but you can use whatever hand you want) place it flat over its gill plate and your thumb on the belly. This holding technique will help you try to prevent the fish from flopping around, thus making it harder to fizz.
- With your right hand, flatten the pectoral fin, so that it lays down straight under the lateral line. I then count from the point of the fin 2 or 3 scales back or roughly a ½ inch to an inch behind the tip of the fin. This is where their air bladder is located, and since it is bloated, the pressure inside the air bladder must be released to ensure the fishes survival.
Image credit: ncwildlife.org
- Upon locating the air bladder, insert the needle at a 45-degree angle to get under the scale and then proceed to moving the needle to a 90-degree angle when the needle is just under the scales. This will allow you to push down and locate the air bladder.
- Continue pushing down on the needle until you hear a slight hissing sound, or you can see air bubbles popping out. (NOTE: In my opinion, it is easier to do this while keeping the fish underwater and see the air bubbles coming out. This is my preferred method as you can feel the buoyancy of the fish and know exactly when you hit their air bladder).
Image credit: ncwildlife.org
Final Rules of Fizzing a Bass
A good rule of thumb I have learned is pending the size of the fish and how deep the water where it you caught it was. The rule is to hold the needle in the air bladder for one second for every pound the fish weighs. For example, a three-pound bass will need fizzed for approximately three seconds.
*Graphic Image* This image comes from a scientific study regarding the location of the air bladder and the best method of finding it for proper fizzing. Image credit: Wired2Fish
Fizzing a bass sounds easier than it truly is, so here are some words of caution. Bass like to flop around, you can try to mitigate it, but they still have the ability to flop even with an extended air bladder. This is important to note for two reasons. The first being, you must be careful not to get the needle stuck in your own skin, believe it or not, that will hurt. Secondly, know that if you do this incorrectly, you could very easily put a hole in the intestines which will most likely lead to the death of the fish.
As a final note, if you vent the fish under the water, make sure you DO NOT get water into the swim bladder. If water gets into the swim bladder, it’s the similar effect to a human’s lungs filling with water, it’s bad news. Always make sure your needle is the sharpest it can be and clean it between fish to help prevent the spread of bacteria or disease.
Below are a few links to websites where you can obtain fizzing tools:
Bass Pro Shops