Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
October 2011

Rockfish Deepwater Release

By Sport Fish Staff

Rockfish are most likely to survive when released quickly at depth by anglers using the following steps.

Step 1

• Make sure your release device is ready — rockfish are most likely to survive when time at the surface is minimized. With practice, rockfish can be released within two minutes of reaching the surface.

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A study found that regardless of external barotrauma signs and capture depth, yelloweye rockfish had remarkably high survival (98%) if they were released at the depth of capture within a couple minutes of reaching the surface. Conversely, the study found that only 22% of yelloweye that were released at the water’s surface were able to submerge to depth.

• Reel the fish up as quickly as possible. After unhooking it, hook the release device through soft tissue on the lower jaw. Make sure the hook does not have a barb. Release the anti-reverse on the reel so line can spool out freely.

Step 2

• Swing the fish slightly to one side and let go of the jig. Let line out as the weight pulls the fish back to the bottom. When the jig hits bottom, lock the reel and give a hard tug to release the fish.

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A homemade deepwater release device made out of a 24 oz. leadhead jig with the barb filed off. Ken Marsh photo

Note: This is a tool that ADF&G recommends sport fisherman use, not commercial fisherman.

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