July 31, 2019 Duane Foerter1

barotrauma in rockfishAt 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.



SeaQualizer for barotraumaEvery 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.

barotraumaThere 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!

Best Regards,
Ryan Kelly – Lead Guide


June 7, 2017 Duane Foerter0

After a few days of steady southeasterly winds that kept us around Cape Edenshaw on the east side of our fishing grounds, QCL guests were happy to get over to the west side and try something different!  This morning they were scattered everywhere!  Quite a few moved offshore to pick up halibut and lingcod while many others focused on their favourite salmon fishing holes.  Salmon action has been most productive fishing a little offshore in 120-140 feet of water and running anchovies at 60-80 feet.  While most of the salmon catch are those feisty early season feeders, we’ve seen the number of fish over 20 pounds increase steadily.  Tyees aren’t common yet but it’s only a matter of time!

Descending Devices

If you’ve enjoyed catching Halibut before, you’ve probably caught some other scary looking fish from the bottom. One of these species is the Yelloweye Rockfish, sometimes incorrectly referred to as red snapper. When these fish are reeled up quickly from the bottom, their swim bladder expands and protrudes through their mouth. It kind of looks like a big tongue. Barotrauma is physical damage to body tissues caused by changes in air pressure and affects rockfish caught in deep water and brought to the surface. These old fish are declining in terms of population numbers and limits have been reduced this year. We are trying to preserve this species and help with conservation efforts. However, it is very difficult to release these fish and reverse the pressure effects. Each of our guides are now equipped with a descending device. A rockfish descending device is a tool intended to lower a fish back into the water at a slow rate in order for the swim bladder to decompress to a normal state. Our guides have already been able to test the devices and have seen great results. During your trip, you may be able to see the descending device in action and know that we are doing our part in conservation efforts for this species.

Fishmaster Chelsea