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How To Release Your Rooster


"I assure you, any fish, of any species, has a greater chance for survival in the  water than he has on the deck of a boat." Ed Kunze

A unique thing about the roosterfish is the swim bladder goes into the brain cavity and makes contact with the inner ear. This enhances the ability to use the swim bladder to amply sound. The rooster is the only species having this characteristic. But, in a long fight, the swim bladder can get unwanted air, which will create an imbalance in the inner ear, and cause them to roll over upon release. He looks just like he is dead, with the comb flat against the back, and the eyes glazed over. 

However, it is a very simple operation to just keep the boat in gear at its slowest speed, and holding on to the dorsal comb at the base, or holding on to the lower jaw and the mouth open, keep the rooster headed into the direction of travel. Massage the belly with the other hand. You will actually see a few air bubbles expend, and then let him go. He will swim down, and will be fine.

Never allow a captain to try and convince you the fish is dead when it is released and rolls over. He either wants the fish for dinner, or just does not have the experience to know the rooster can be revived just fine.

“A game fish is too valuable to catch only once” – Lee Wulff made this famous quote in 1939.

I remember a time the captain had a hard time reviving a 40 pound rooster we got, and I was starting to get upset. He wasn't doing what I told him. I knew the fish was going to live, if revived soon enough, because the combs were straight up. So, I grabbed the fish, raised the tail out of the water and rammed it vertical down into the water and brought him up again, to where just his gills were in the water, and rammed him down again, releasing him at the same time. The rooster took off like he was chasing a bait.

It is when the comb is laying flat on the back you better start getting worried. You do not have time to take another photo or even take him out of the water. Get the hook out and get him revived. 


This just released rooster looks like it is done for. But, we got it back, massaged the belly to expend the air, and it swam off like it was in a race.