At QCL we have always been known for our salmon fishing but we have seen a large increase in the past 5 years of our guests targeting rockfish. If you didn’t know, many of these fish live up to 80 years with the Yelloweye species living up to 118 years or more! Since 2017 we have seen changes in the catch and retention limits for rockfish as well as the species we are able to keep. These measures have been put in place to help keep these species of fish around forever.
When reeling rockfish up from depths over 200 feet they often get what is called barotrauma. This quick change in pressure causes their swim bladder to expand and protrude out of their mouth and their eyes to bulge out.
Every boat at QCL comes equipped with a descending device. These devices are designed to allow the fish to recompress and swim away at the desired depth the device is set for – for us that’s usually at 150 feet. The jaws of the device close on the fish’s lower lip and the device gets attached to your downrigger. The device is set to release at a select depth and the jaws will open once the downrigger gets there, letting the fish swim free.
There are many of these devices on the market now, all designed to allow these fish to recover and swim away. We are using the SeaQualizer device on all our boats.
There has been much debate as to if these devices work properly. I use this device every day and I was curious as to how well it worked. So I started watching and recording the release using the image on the Lowrance HDS9 in my boat. If you look at the photo of the screen, you can see the cannonball descending with the fish attached via the SeaQualizer. At about 160-feet, you can see that the device opens up as designed and the rockfish (yelloweye) releases from the cannonball, swimming back towards the bottom. It feels great to let these fish go back to their habitat to hopefully keep these species around forever!
Ryan Kelly – Lead Guide