Killing Invasive Lionfish: Why and How

The Battle Against Lionfish and Practical Strategies for Conservation

Happy New Years gang!

BIG announcement.

This is the year that we take The Stone Shot to the next level! To start off, we’re going to change from weekly emails to bi-monthly (twice a month) emails.

Now, hold on, I know that sounds counterproductive to 'taking it to the next level,' but doing so will allow us to provide better content for all of you. Each month will look like this:

  • 1st Thursday Of The Month (starting 2/1) : D.I.V.E Email

    • D - Destination Spotlight

    • I - Insider Tips and Techniques

    • V - Video

    • E - Environmental Awareness

  • 3rd Thursday Of The Month: A Community Spotlight (like this one)

Another reason for the change is that we’re going to become more than just a newsletter. This year, we have two main goals:

  1. Run virtual spearfishing contests with huge prizes

  2. Create a members only area with brand discounts, monthly presentations and private Facebook group (or WhatsApp).

I’m very thankful for all of you and your continued support. Let's make this the best year yet!

Keep Diving,


Hey there, spearos. This is The Stone Shot, your weekly dose of spear content (and maybe some fishing, but we try to keep it below the water line)

Here’s what we have for you today:

  • The Question: How to and why kill invasive Lionfish

  • World Record Of The Week: Pacific Blue Fin Tuna

  • Video: Black Marlin on a reel gun

The Question

Eliminating Invasive Lionfish: Why and How

First things first, are lionfish really a problem?

Put simply, yes.

In their native territories (pictured in blue and green) they do not pose issues.

However, they are not indigenous to the Western Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico (pictured in red). In these regions, they pose a significant problem to the reefs where they reside.

The red hatching shows the area they are predicted to inhabit in the coming years.

Why Hunt Lionfish

In the red zone above, lionfish don’t have many natural predators, so they are outbreeding, outcompeting, and outliving native fish and other marine species.

The consequences impact food security and economies, affecting over a hundred million people.

So, what should we spearos do about it?

If you’re spearing in the red zone, kill 'em all!

I know that sounds a little morbid, but I think it’s our responsibility as divers to protect the reefs we enjoy.

The good news? They taste delicious! More on that below.

How To Safely Hunt Lionfish

These fish are venomous. Getting stung by one HURTS.

The picture below shows where their venomous spines are.

Most lionfish hunters will use some sort of three-pronged pole spear, but you can also use your gun. Use a pair of puncture-proof gloves if you have them.

After shooting a lionfish, you have two options for safe handling.

Scrape them off your spear into a cooler or a plastic tube like the Zookeeper. Then, cut off the spines later.

Or, use shears to cut off the spines in the water and then store them in your kill bag.

Here’s a great video that shows how to cut off the venomous spines before filleting.

If You Can’t Beat Them, Eat Them!

As mentioned above, lionfish are delicious.

It is a white, flaky fish, firmer in texture than halibut, with no 'red line,' offering a flavor profile somewhere between a thin grouper fillet and mahi-mahi.

After the 18 spines have been removed, fillet the same way you’d fillet a snapper. Remember to dispose of the spines properly; they can still sting once removed!

There are endless lionfish recopies online. You can blacken, bread, or even prepare them in ceviche!

World Record Of The Week

Note: This is the official world record according to the International Underwater Spearfishing Association. If you or someone you know has shot a larger one, please reach out – we'd be happy to share the story.

Bluefin Tuna—Pacific

Weight: 398.0 lbs / 180.53 kgs

Spearo: Dr. Terry Maas

Location: Guadalupe Island, Mexico

Date Speared: Sep, 1982

The Story:

Bait fish began to gather over the rocks, stepping from 60 to 90 to 120 feet below. I had that special feeling experienced divers get when they know conditions are favorable for big fish. Sure enough, big yellowtail appeared in schools. I yelled to my Hawaiian friend and teammate Dennis Okada, 'Don't shoot the yellows, I think tuna will show!' Two dives later, into the 150-foot visibility water, I watched Dennis try to ignore a 40-pound yellowtail swimming toward him. Unable to resist, he shot the fish and headed back to the boat with it.

Alone, I was diving the now famed 'tuna alley' of Guadalupe Island, Mexico. Having trouble with the then-experimental lifeguard float system, which kept deploying its 100 feet of line in the heavy swells, I pinned the line inside the float. I reasoned that if I shot a fish, I could get to the pin and release it as the buoys passed me.

A school of ten, 50-pound bluefin, 100 feet away, mesmerized me. They swam so close to the surface that they occasionally disappeared from my view in the large oceanic swells marching overhead.

Toward the end of a dive, I glanced down, looking beyond the reef edge into deep water and noticed two small distant tuna swimming in my direction. I froze. Slowly the tuna grew, soon becoming giants. I kept waiting for them to get close enough to make out detail on their bodies before I took my shot. When the closest fish just started to veer away from its course toward me (about 15 feet away), I simultaneously thrust my four-banded gun forward and kicked. I fired. My intent was to give as much forward momentum to the near horizontal spearshaft as possible.

The fish took off so fast that it was impossible to catch my release pin as the two buoys streaked by, almost hitting me. Still joined by the pin, the buoys descended at a steep angle. Seconds later, they started to float back toward the surface, a sure sign my fish was lost. At least I could release that pesky pin.

Suddenly, the floats took off again, towing me in a large circle. I caught sight of the huge tuna, having completed a full circle on the surface, heading straight toward me. I began untangling myself from my float lines and preparing to dodge the monster fish, when it rolled over and started sinking, about 30 feet away. I struggled to stay afloat as the giant tuna's dead weight kept pulling me under. Finally, the chase boat arrived with my second gun. I dove and made a good second shot securing my fish just as the last wing of the first spearhead slipped free. We lassoed the 398-pound world-record by its big tail and brought it back to the mother boat, Sand Dollar. We tied it to the boat's swim step while we devised a plan to get it onboard intact.

I'll never forget the unbelieving expressions on the faces of the returning divers, as one by one, they caught sight of that monster fish hanging from the back of the boat.


Timmy Knight shooting a black marlin on a 105 roller with a reel. Crazy bloke!

That’s it for us! We’ll see you back here next week.

PS - We’re in the search for great spearfishing stories. This could be crazy experiences in the water, unique spearing methods or exotic spearfishing trips.

Any stories of your own that you'd be willing to tell? Respond to this email and we’ll send over a short questionnaire!

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