Guy Harvey Magazine

WIN 2012

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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Page 47 of 83

This is not about you. It's about the fish. And how you can master the art of catch and release. BY DARYL CARSON T hey call it the Lazarus video. It's black-and-white footage of a rockfish caught off the Pacific coast and swollen up like a helium balloon. The fish is seen lying in a cage and then floating lifelessly to the top once the cage is lowered in the water. But then, as the basket descends, the resurrection begins. The fish's bugged-out eyes settle back into their sockets and the distended stomach retreats back down its gullet. By the time the cage door opens at 70 feet, the fish swims out and heads back down to the reef where it was caught. This amazing footage (see it at is of a yelloweye rockfish surviving barotrauma, a condition caused by the rapid expansion of gasses experienced as a fish is quickly reeled up from depth. If this happened to a diver, we'd call it a catastrophic case of the bends. If handled properly in fish, it can cause nothing more than a temporary impression of a blimp. Or maybe a bug-eyed version of Rodney Dangerfield. If not handled properly, and a fish in this condition is just chucked back in the water, it becomes a buoy, stuck at the surface to either die of its wounds or become an easy meal for a predator. It's a scenario plenty of fishermen have witnessed. But the Lazarus video, along with a growing body of research, shows the effectiveness of properly treating barotrauma. It also shows that fishermen can, and dare we say should, do more to up the chances of survival for fish they catch and then release. Yes, catch-and-release fishing has been a mantra of marine conservation for a long time. In the U.S., it's been officially advocated in different areas since at least the 1950s. But catch-and-release fishing is evolving beyond the practical necessity of putting undersized fish back into the water and into more of an ethos for sport fishermen. The cause of conservation often has just as much influence on an angler's decision-making process as the desire to hunt for food or the quest for a trophy. For many sportsmen, catch and release is a normal mode of operation. How important is catch and release? Well, releasing fish, whether mandated or not, is so prevalent that fishery managers use survival rates of released fish as part of their calculations of fish stocks. Not only do they calculate how many fish are caught, but they give us credit for throwing some back. "In 2010, 211 million fish were released by marine recreational anglers," says

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