SWIM BLADDER RELIEF ("FIZZING")
Fish caught from deep water (generally greater than 18-20 feet) can suffer from over expansion of the swim bladder. Fish suffering from this condition cannot maintain a normal upright position. They cannot stay down in the livewell or recovery tank for long, and often float with their tails, heads or sides breaking the surface. A golf-ball-sized lump may appear on the side of the fish.
Inserting a 2-inch-long, 18-gauge hypodermic needle into the swim bladder can relieve the excess pressure. The needles can be obtained from farm and ranch or veterinary supply firms. Tournament officials must be trained and proficient with this technique so they can perform the procedure on fish brought to weigh-in. However, air bladder relief is best done as soon as the fish shows signs of distress. This means that anglers should also become proficient and comfortable with the technique so that the procedure can be performed in the boat.
Courtesy of B.A.S.S.
Hold the bass underwater when "fizzing." A stream of bubbles will be seen escaping from the end of the needle when it has been inserted in the proper location.
If the bass appears bloated and can't upright itself, deflation may be required. To fizz the bass locate the swim bladder.
The bladder is in line with the dorsal notch, below the lateral line and above the anal vent, approximately midway (see diagram). Hold the bass below the water's surgace. Slide the fizzing needle under a scale and at an upward angle. This will puncture the swim bladder.
Done correctly you will see air bubbles and hear a fizzing sound. When the bubbles subside, your fish is ready for release. To properly release, make several figure 8's. Hold the bass by the lip and below the surface. We don't recommend the push and pull method. Before using the fizzle needle again, rinse and check for clogs.
The location for needle insertion varies with fish size, but in general, draw an imaginary line between the notch in the dorsal fins . Draw another line from the tip of the pectoral fin to the fork in the tail.
Where these lines intersect, remove a scale or two and push the needle straight into the body cavity. Hold the fish underwater during the procedure so bubbles can be seen escaping from the needle.
Do not squeeze or press on the fish to force out more gas. When the bubbles stop, the fish should be able to right itself and swim normally. The larger the fish, the farther toward the head of the fish you need to insert the needle.
On fish over 5 pounds you may need to insert the needle within an inch of the tip of the pectoral fin
Photo courtesy of B.A.S.S.