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Saltwater Fishing

Saltwater Fishing


Keep Florida the Fishing Capital of the World by Using Best Fishing Practices for Reef Fish

We are all invested in the future of fisheries in Florida. To help keep Florida the Fishing Capital of the World, we each share a responsibility to use best fishing practices when catching and releasing fish. This includes handling fish with wet hands to preserve the slime coat, keeping fingers out of the gills and eyes, supporting the fish horizontally under the belly, and properly venting or descending fish if barotrauma symptoms are present.

Barotrauma are injuries caused by pressure changes when fish are rapidly brought to the surface from deep water and are one of the leading causes of mortality in released reef fish. However, the quick and proper use of a descending device or venting tool can help fish get back down to depth and improve their survival. Descending devices are weighted tools that help fish overcome buoyancy challenges by returning fish to depth. Venting tools are sharpened, hollow instruments designed to release expanded gases in the swim bladder of fish experiencing barotrauma. Reminder, knives, ice picks, and hooks are not legal venting tools, often causing more harm to the fish than good. Though both descending devices and venting tools can help improve the survival of released fish, research has shown that descending devices are the most effective method to treat barotrauma and reduce mortality.

Make sure you know what barotrauma mitigation tools are required when fishing for reef fish off Florida. In Florida state waters, a descending device or venting tool is required to be rigged and ready for use on board a vessel. Additional gear regulations for reef fish are listed at In Atlantic federal waters, descending devices are required to be readily available, and if you are Gulf federal waters, a descending device or venting tool is required to be rigged and ready for use.

By using these best fishing practices, you can do your part this fishing season for future fisheries and to help keep Florida the Fishing Capital of the World!

To learn more about barotrauma visit and for more tips on best handling practices, visit

Descending device examples: Inverted hooks (left and center) and pressure trigger lip clamp. Photos courtesy of Return ‘Em Right.

Visit to learn more about best fishing practices, including their Best Release Practices Manual, and see if you are eligible for free descending gear.