Curing the bends

  • Barrel swivel
  • 50-pound line
  • 6/0 or larger hook with barb filed off
  • 12-24 inches of 50-pound Line
  • 16-ounce or bigger bank sinker 
  • Catching deep water fish is almost scientific in nature. In order to be successful, anglers have to dissect a fishery, considering weather, structure, water clarity and temperature. Once the fish is caught, however, the science of keeping that bass alive can be even more challenging. Fizzing (inserting a needle into the air bladder to reduce bloating) is the most common practice for relieving bass with the bends, but takes a skilled practitioner to be done effectively. Mark Davis, senior public relations manager for Shakespeare Fishing Tackle, has another way.

    "Although fizzing works, not many people really know how to do it. So I came up with a release rig that works virtually 100 percent of the time," Davis explains. Davis' rig consists of the following: To a barrel swivel, attach a short leader of 50-pound mono. Tie the tag end of the mono to the bend of a hook, barb filed off. Tie another 12- to 24-inch piece of 50-pound mono to the eye of the hook. To the remaining tag end, tie a 16-ounce or bigger bell sinker. The rig can then be easily attached to a rod and reel, or a ball of twine.

    When you bring a deep water fish to the surface, and it is bloated, all you have to do is push the hook through the top part of the upper jaw and lower the fish to the bottom. "Once the fish reaches equalizing depths, the vast majority of times it will simply swim away. Otherwise, a slight pop of the string will set it free," Davis explains.