How to Catch a Lionfish in Florida

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The lionfish has a large head with multiple spines located over its body -- covering the back, sides and head. Originally from the Pacific and Indian oceans, lionfish have been rapidly growing in numbers in the Atlantic Ocean off the southeastern coast of the United States. Lionfish can be found in coral reef areas in the warm waters of Florida's coastal regions. You can catch them while scuba diving or snorkeling near a coral reef.

Step 1

Locate a coral reef area off the coast of Florida. Lionfish have been found in waters ranging in depth from 85 to 260 feet.

Step 2

Fish during the day using a net or spear. The lionfish is nocturnal, so it's most active at night when hunting for food. During the day, the fish is very slow -- almost motionless -- making it easy to catch.

Step 3

Wear thick gloves to protect against being stung. The lionfish has multiple spines that are venomous and can irritate the skin if stung. Wear protective gloves, such as those made from PVC, when handling fish after catching them.

Step 4

Use a pair of nets with a fine mesh to capture the lionfish. Capture the slow-moving fish by placing one net behind it and using the second one to corral it into the first. Netting lionfish is the preferred method for research or aquarium fishing purposes.

Step 5

Select a spear that has a paralyzer tip on the end. Capture the lionfish by stabbing it with the spear, which has a tip that prevents it from sliding back down the pole toward your hands. This method is used when it does not matter if the lionfish is caught dead or alive.


  • Do not release lionfish back into the water. Since the lionfish is not a native species to the waters of Florida, it is not recommended to throw back the fish back after catching it.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has created an “Eat Lion Fish” campaign encouraging their use as food. Lionfish can be eaten blackened, fried, sautéed, or in cevhiche or sushi.


About the Author

Heather Leigh Landon has been a writer since 1988 when she started her career as a stringer for "The McHenry Star News." Since then she has worked for newspapers such as "The Woodstock Independent," "The Northwest Herald" and "Press Journal." Landon graduated from William Rainey Harper College with an Associate of Applied Science in journalism.

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