How To Vent & Descend Red Snapper (So We Get More Days Next Year)


Do you want a longer red snapper season next year?

Of course you do!

And the good news is, you can help influence that!

But here’s the deal — it’s not just about how many red snapper we keep, it’s also about how many snapper that die because we caught them.

That’s discard mortality and that counts toward our quota for the year.

So… if we decrease our discard mortality, we can have a longer season!

But how do we do that?

Well, discard mortality is largely due to barotrauma, which essentially means that the fish came up to the surface too quickly.

To combat that, we need to properly vent or descend fish that are suffering from barotrauma.

Check out this video from Captain Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina for some tips on how to do that.

How To Vent & Descend Red Snapper [VIDEO]

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What Is Barotrauma?

When fish get brought up from deep water too quickly, the gas inside their body expands because there’s less pressure on the surface.

The problem is that the gas has nowhere to go, so it can injure their internal organs.

Typically, barotrauma happens at about 90-110 feet in cooler months and 70-80 feet in warmer months.

Here are some signs of barotrauma:

  • Their swim bladder or stomach is extending out of their mouth
  • Their scales or eyes are poking out
  • They’re bloated from internal pressure

The bad news is that barotrauma is responsible for a lot of discard mortality, meaning that even if you release fish, they still die.

This goes against the quota for how many red snapper we as anglers can keep (not to mention it’s obviously bad for the fish and the general red snapper population), so we need to do something about it.

Now here’s the good news: we can do something about it!

Here’s how…

How To Reduce Discard Mortality

venting red snapper

When a fish is experiencing barotrauma, you can do two things to help them:

  1. Vent them
  2. Descend them

Venting them (with a tool like this) gets rid of their internal gas so it’s not compressing all of their internal organs.

Descending them (with a tool like this) brings them back down to deep water so that they can recompress naturally.

By doing one of these two things, you can greatly reduce discard mortality.

To find out if you need to vent or descend, throw out the first fish near the boat.

If he swims down to the bottom right away, you don’t need to vent or descend them.

But if he floats, then you know that you’ll need to vent or descend every fish from then on.

Of course, don’t forget to retrieve him back and vent or descend him.

How To Vent Or Descend A Fish

So now that you know how important it is to vent or descend fish, here’s the big question: how do you do it?

You can learn about venting fish from Capt. Dylan here.

And you can learn about how to vent and descend fish, as well as get more information about protecting our fisheries here:


how to catch red snapper

If we all vent or descend fish, we can decrease discard mortality and help increase the red snapper population.

When that happens, we’ll be able to keep the red snapper season open longer and we’ll be able to keep more fish!

If you’re in the Tampa Bay area and want to go catch some snapper with the Hubbard’s Marina crew, book a trip with them at

Have any questions about venting and descending fish?

Let us know in the comments below!

And please TAG or SHARE this with your fishing buddies!

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