There is no right or wrong way to hunt lionfish. Ok, trying to punch them with your fist is probably a wrong way, but otherwise any lionfish removed from or eaten on the reef is a successful hunt. Some divers prefer to stab and mortally wound the lionfish so that other predators of the reef can eat them, while many spear and collect the lionfish for eating. Because of the lionfish’s venomous spines, care should always be taken when spearing them, and we highly recommend the Hexarmor puncture resistant lionfish gloves while cleaning the lionfish.
If you are just trying to spear the lionfish and leave them on the reef for other critters to consume, any of the barbless tips will work well such as a 6mm threaded polespear with the removable barb tip or the LionTamer. Some divers like to take a pair of shears and slice them while on the spear to ensure they don’t swim away, or to trim the spines before feeding to the nearby reef fish. (again, it's better than leaving a live lionfish on the reef, but we encourage divers to bring their dead lionfish out of the water to avoid teaching local predators to associate divers with food.)
If you are collecting the lionfish for eating than we recommend using any of the devices with a paralyzer or 3-prong tip. Small barbs on the tips help to hold the lionfish on the spear but don’t pose a problem when it comes time to remove them for bagging. Most people prefer the polespear for its ability to be shot one handed, while some prefer the small size of the sling type devices.
When it comes to harvesting the speared lionfish we have found that there are two distinct schools of thought. Most divers prefer to move the lionfish directly into the bag or container by pushing the end of the spear with the lionfish into the container and using friction to pull the lionfish off of the end. With this method there is no need to get your hands near the spines of the lionfish, and dealing with the spines & cleaning the lionfish can be done safely on land. The other method favored by some divers is to take a pair of scissors or shears and trim the spines off of the lionfish while it is still held on the end of the spear. The lionfish can then be carried without worrying about a puncture.
When selecting a bag or container for harvesting the lionfish please read our page on choosing a lionfish containment unit.
Whichever equipment you choose remember the two most important goals, to have fun and to remove as many lionfish as possible!
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- Hunting Lionfish
- Lionfish facts
- Lionfish Facts & Information
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- 2017 Lionfish derbies & tournaments
- Choosing a Lionfish Containment Unit
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- CORE Foundation, USVI Lionfish control
- The lionfish sting
- Ending Non-native Destructive Species
- Places to spear lionfish in Caribbean