Deep Caught Bass: A common problem when fishing deep or for suspended bass that suddenly rush the surface for your lure is that they get bloated with air from the rapid pressure change. Needling fish is the commonly accepted method for returning fish to the depths but I have spoken with many people on this topic and I’ll tell you something… When you get a bass over 6lbs, it becomes VERY hard to needle them correctly. Needling 14” spotted bass is quite easy but needling 10lbers and doing it right is not. I would encourage everyone who is reading this article to spend a few dollars and make yourself a simple deep water release device for big bass. Here is what you do: Take a standard marker bouy and remove the stock lead weight. Replace that weight with a 6 to 8oz torpedo sinker. You can buy a sinker like that at any saltwater tackle store.
If you get a big bass that won’t go down, pay out 10-20 feet of line from the marker buoy, then hold the fish with the mouth pointing straight up at you and lower the torpedo sinker into its throat. It will go in very easily, there’s no need to force it. When the sinker is fully inside the bass, gently release the fish while paying out line from the marker buoy. The extra weight will allow the bass to swim down. Let the fish go as deep as it needs to go. What will happen is that the bass will go very slowly at first but when it hits a certain depth it will all of a sudden feel normal again and you’ll feel the fish come to life and start yanking on the string. Hold the string tight and the bass will cough out the weight and be on its way. This technique was taught to me by Rod and Todd Thigpin and it works really well. I’ve successfully released several big bass using this method and it’s a great feeling when they come alive and start yanking that string to get free.