Fuzzy feelings while fizzing a tournament caught Bass

I am sure many are wondering…what is with the title of this post? This blog post is a little bit of a rant at bass anglers who don’t fizz their fish. Yes, the bass anglers who invest thousands of dollars annually for the chance to be the best in any tournament they enter. Many are still nervous or uncertain to stick a needle into the side of a fish if needed. Most of uncertain bass anglers have no issues filleting a Walleye or Yellow Perch. Still, they are not sure how or down right squeamish to stick a tiny needle into the side of a Bass.

I just wanted to share a recent experience this past weekend at one of our recent events. The Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation held their annual National Contender Fundraiser this past weekend on Lake Erie/Niagara River.  The 2017 National Contender Fundraiser Tournament consisted of 38 teams from across Ontario. Funds raised from this event are used to fund our National Contenders as they travel to compete in the B.A.S.S. National Tournament each year.

Daniel Noble monitoring our fish care tanks

All good stuff right? Mostly. The inability for some anglers to fizz their fish is frustrating. I am not going to say that the use of manual deflation device (aka. a needle) to treat an over-inflated air bladder is simple to those who have not done it. However, if anglers fail to treat barotrauma the chance of releasing a fish successfully is significantly reduced! There are so many bass anglers who know how to fizz these days. It is becoming common practice for the majority of the anglers. However, this is not enough. It needs to be EVERY bass angler who chooses to compete in bass tournaments. Every bass angler must learn to diagnose and treat barotrauma if they wish to participate in live release tournaments.

Fizzing a tournament caught Smallmouth Bass

I get it, barotrauma treatment through mechanical deflation of the air bladder (aka FIZZING) is not for everyone. It is an invasive procedure that if done incorrectly can cause damage to a fish. However, the stress associated with barotrauma to an untreated bass can be much more devastating. It makes me sad to see large Smallmouth Bass that are stressed because of barotrauma. All because anglers are unsure of the symptoms or unsure of what to do.

This is myself and Daniel Noble. Daniel is a Berkley Junior Ambassador and a member of the St Catharines Junior Bassmasters

Over the next few months I will preparing more helpful posts about Tournament Fish Care and information that can be helpful for Anglers and Tournament Organizers alike.

In closing I wanted to share this video from this past summer. This was shot by BASS Elite Angler John Crews with my good friend Barb Elliot. Barb Elliot is the Conservation Director for the New York BASS Nation. “Miss Barb”, as many refer to her, is amazing at Fish Care and has a real passion for fishing. The video below is a great example of Barb giving a fizzing lesson to John. This video has been viewed over 150,000 times and still getting views. Please note Barb’s comments about the fish she is treating. She mentions the fish is ‘stressed’. The stress she is referring to is that the fish has required treatment but was not provided treatment at the appropriate time.






7 thoughts on “Fuzzy feelings while fizzing a tournament caught Bass

    1. Bruce Tufts and I have been thinking of pulling together some content for both tournament anglers and tournament organizers. We see a workshop or sorts but don’t know where to start. Any suggestions you have would be welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Brent Valere


    Excellent topic to bring out into the necessary skills of an angler to ensure proper fish care. Having “fizzed” many fish, I am now comfortable doing it. I think anglers not “fizzing” fall into a few categories. Those that want to “fizz” but are not comfortable handling a needle or can’t perform the operation due to rough water, those who try to “fizz” but have the wrong guage of needle (or inability to ream) and unfortunately, those that don’t seem to find it a priority.

    My hope is that raising awareness will raise priority. There is no excuse not to care for your fish. I would absolutely support seminars at clubs and other venues where anglers can understand the tools required, learn to landmark and learn how much to deflate the bass. Significant damage is possible through bad landmarking, over deflation or extended handling time in or out of water.

    First step is to put the right tools in angler’s hands. Can you recommend a needle/reamer and where they can be purchased? You should also have a bag of needles to sell/distribute at any seminar.

    Well done Jay…let me know if I can help.


    1. I think we just need to make this a common discussion in 2018 at big water events when barotrauma is an issue. I think there are some key things the Ontario BASS Nation can do in 2018.


  2. Rob ( Catfish ) McIntosh

    Great article Jay and nice to see our Jrs getting involved. You know that I have been doing and promoting this from the time I was invited to fizz fish at the BASS TOURNY in Buffalo 10 years ago. But I think rules need to be placed at the club level for fizzing their fish. St. Catharines club has made it mandatory with a weight penalty to their bag of fish. If each club steps up to make it mandatory it will get a lot of anglers the knowledge they need to do this simple procedure. It’s kind of hard to do this at a seminar because you need the fish to work on, tournaments are the best place for this to be taught thus this is where you and your team come into affect. A big thank you go’s out to you and your team for taking the step up to make sure our fish are taken care of till all anglers are doing this simple procedure. I would also recommend that the OBN takes a bigger step and makes this MANDATORY for the qualifier and the fund raiser, for every fish NOT FIZZED IT WOULD BE 1POUND PER FISH NOT FIZZED PENATLY. That would sure make a big dent in your weight at the end of a day of fishing. Any help you need in making sure this gets pushed just ask. Again thank you Jayson and your crew.


Comments are closed.