A good-sized lionfish was caught on a hook baited with live shrimp on March 1 at a favorite wreck site offshore of Apalachicola by Charlie Quirk. In photo above, son Charles Quirk is seen holding the 15-inch long, 1.5-pound fish, on the big end of an invasive species that tends to average 12 to 15 inches in length.
Amanda Nalley, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the record catch so far is 18.6 inches in North Carolina, but they can reach sizes larger than 19 inches. One reason for that is because most lionfish as caught by speaking or handheld nets.
Nalley said the FWC will take up a draft rule at its April meeting designed to further prevent lionfish introductions and facilitate efforts to remove these non-native predators.
The proposed rule would create an exception to allow persons using rebreathers to harvest lionfish; would allow the FWC to issue permits to tournaments or other approved events for the use of spearing gears in areas where spearfishing is otherwise prohibited; and prohibit any further importation of live lionfish or the development of lionfish aquaculture in Florida.
Dolores Cassel Quirk, who is the granddaughter of Delores and Walter “Sarge” Cassel, one of the original residents of St. George Island, said her husband plans to have the fish mounted. Many people enjoy the fish’s taste, but care must be taken to avoid the spines, that can impart a painful sting. For more info, visit http://tinyurl.com/lee8h99.