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October 20, 2011

The SeaQualizer

An innovative new device promises improved deep water releases

To send the SeaQualizer, a 5-pound weight and a fish into the depths, I used a heavy conventional rod paired with a conventional low-speed reel filled with heavy line, as suggested. My Penn Senator 114H2 has a 2.9:1 gear ratio, which made it easy to crank up the heavy lead after the release. The 100-pound-test braid coming off the rod tip was tied to a three-way swivel, and each of the two remaining eyes of the swivel had a small monofilament loop affixed. The 5-pound weight was tied to a short length of heavy monofilament with a longline clip at the opposite end, which clipped the weight to the mono ring on the lower ring eye of the swivel. The SeaQualizer also has a longline clip for securing it to the other mono ring on the swivel eye.

Proof at 100 Feet
Off Sarasota, we were jigging along the bottom in 230 feet of water. It was closed season on red snapper, so releases were in order for the ones we caught. Anxious to try out the SeaQualizer, I kept the release rod in a gunwale holder and rested the 5-pound weight in another rod holder. When we caught a red snapper, we affixed the SeaQualizer’s locking grip to the lower jaw of the snapper, eased over the sash weight and fish, and then slowly backed off on the star drag. We watched as the weight and fish penetrated the clear blue Gulf water.

When we fought snapper to the surface, they were bloated and their scales appeared about to pop off. A couple even had their bladders protruding from their mouths. Yet, amazingly, once the fish were down between 30 and 50 feet and the recompression began, they became active. A bit deeper, right about where the release clip opened, the fish were fighting to free themselves. On more than one occasion, we saw the locking grip open and the fish swim toward the bottom. It was amazing to watch.

Prior to this trip, I reviewed an underwater video showing Liederman and crew fishing in 330 feet of water off Miami, catching snowy grouper, tilefish, and vermilion and yellow-eye snappers. I watched two separate releases in which a bloated snowy grouper was attached to the SeaQualizer and lowered to the 100-foot mark, where the clip was programmed to open. Initially and down through the first 30 feet or so, the groupers simply twirled about, still suffering from barotrauma. But as they spiraled downward, the fish appeared to get thinner from the recompression, and friskier. Toward the end, they were fighting to get off the grip. And when the grip opened, they swam off toward bottom, appearing none the worse for wear. My findings mirrored this video.

Liederman confirms that this process is much easier for both angler and fish than venting. Plus it’s not necessary to lower the fish to the bottom. Based on the depth you’re fishing, recompression can be successful at 50 feet, 100 feet or 150 feet. If you’re bottomfishing in 100 feet of water, the shallow setting should suffice. Between 100 and 200 feet, the midrange setting should work, and beyond 200 feet, the deep setting. And how do you know exactly how deep the device (and fish) really is? Simply mark the line on the release rod at 50-foot intervals.

I honestly feel this tool will be on many a boat that partakes in bottomfishing, regardless of region. It’s so good that I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes mandatory for bottomfishing in certain waters, just like the venting tool is today. It’s that cutting-edge.


Availability

Liederman says the SeaQualizer will be available through retailers in January 2012. By the time you read this, though, the device will be in full production. The price has yet to be determined, but Liederman says it will be attractive and within most budgets.
 
For more information on the SeaQualizer and to order one when it becomes available, call 305-494-3408 or e-mail seaqualizer@gmail.com.