With an affinity for warmer waters and a voracious appetite for a variety of fish and crustacean species, the Indo-Pacific Lionfish may be taking a bite out of kayak fishing, especially off the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
Spotted off the coast of Dania, FL as early as fall 1985 and the Biscayne Bay after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the lionfish has created an impact on a variety of species, most notably the grouper and snapper. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), lionfish spawn multiple times during mating season, producing as much as 15,000 to 30,000 eggs per spawn. With sexual maturity at two years, it’s clear that the Lionfish numbers are alarming.
So what exactly does this mean for kayaking and fishing in Florida and other parts affected? Put it this way – lionfish may get to your catches before you do. And they don’t get the concept of overfishing.
Lionfish prey include small fish and crustaceans normally reserved for food of prized catches. In short, lionfish affect the availability of prize fish, which, if continued long term, could affect fishing quality for the State of Florida and elsewhere.
Photo credit: Mark Albins, Oregon State University.
The lionfish is a salt-water fish, preferring coral or rocky areas as habitat, so fresh water lake, river and swamp kayak anglers will be thankfully unaffected. Hardcore sea anglers may already notice a difference in their fishing results. Kayak divers may easily spot this fish, as it’s quite colorful with long, protruding spines (which are venomous, so handle with care). Florida divers are encouraged to catch and kill any confirmed Lionfish they find. Check with your state and local fishing game wardens for details.
Anglers in their rigged fishing kayaks can do their part in alleviating the resource-consuming Lionfish. If you happen to catch a Lionfish, alert the nearest fishing or wildlife official, if possible. Do not release it unless directed to do so.
The Society of Environmental Journalists has recommended catching, cooking and eating the Lionfish! Turns out Lionfish are quite delicious and any venom is removed during the cooking process. Additionally, anglers must take care in catching native Lionfish predators, namely very large grouper. Best to catch, photo and release (CPR). Of course, adhere to all local fishing laws and regulations first and foremost.
Have you seen a Lionfish on your sea kayak line? Maybe you’ve had a close and personal encounter with the dreaded sea predator. Be sure to share your Lionfish experiences with us below.
In our last post, we countdown the top catches from picture you guys have submitted to us. Check em out and send us a pic of you and your catch! http://www.pickyournextadventure.com/2013/08/biggest-catch-photos-submitted-by-you.html