In June, Northland Outdoors traveled to the northwestern corner of Saskatchewan to Tazin Lake in search of a world record lake trout. You can watch the entire episode this Saturday morning at 7 a.m. on Fox Sports North, or Sunday at 10 a.m. on the Forum Communications Network in North Dakota.
The fishing was incredible and while we didn’t catch a 72lb+ laker, we did catch one estimated at a whopping 56 pounds! Sometimes to catch the big lake trout, you have to find them deep. When you bring a fish up from that deep of water it can cause barotrauma and the fish’s swim bladder can expand with gas. Lake trout and salmon have swim bladders connected to their esophagus, so they can burp their way up to the surface, while fish such as walleye and perch do not.
One of the fish that we brought out of deep water had tried to throw up a smaller lake trout that it had eaten. The fish got caught in the larger fish’s throat and prevented it from “burping” out the gas. Trevor Montgomery from Tazin Lake Lodge removed the obstruction and then manually burped the fish allowing it to recover fully and swim it’s way back down to the bottom.
That’s what you are seeing in the video above. Stick around to the end to see the smaller fish that we pulled out of its mouth.
Fish brought up from deep water may need “burping.” Burping is a method of expelling excess air from the fish’s swim bladder. The drop in pressure causes the swim bladder to expand, increasing the fish’s buoyancy and causing it to float belly up. Left in this condition, many fish die as a result of the surface water’s warm temperatures or attacks by predators. But in trout and salmon, the swim bladder is connected to the esophagus, making it possible to squeeze excess air out. To do so, hold the fish gently on its side and gently, but firmly, squeeze the belly from the vent toward the head. You will be able to hear the burp as air is expelled from the bladder. Do not squeeze the head and gill area, as that could damage vital organs.
Stimulate the fish to dive deeply. Once burped, the fish should be able to dive down to the deep cold water. But it may require further assistance. Two methods have proved useful in stimulating fish to dive. One is to vigorously thrust the fish, head first, into the water. The slap of the water, and the plunge downward usually stimulates the fish to swim down. Another technique is the “release when recovered” method. Hold the fish gently at the middle of its body with its head pointed downward at a 45 degree angle. In that position a gentle side-to-side motion (or slow speed of the boat if trolling) can be used to move water into the mouth and over the gills. As the fish recovers, it will begin to kick, and slide out of your hand. When its tail passes through your hand, give the tail a quick squeeze. This seems to stimulate the fish’s swimming action, causing to dive with more vigor. Remember, the idea is not to catch the tail, but to compress it as it slides through your hand.