~ ~ NewsLetter Mid April 2012 ~ ~
April 19, 2012
Well, as the Lobster season has now ended, adventurers are looking for various activities to pursue in order to put a bit of protein on the plate, some are looking towards a bit of conservation minded activities. What I am getting at is the up coming Grouper season and Lion Fish hunting. Now if you are not into shooting fish and feel that they are much nicer to behold then to shoot, I can certainly understand. Please let us know, when you are booking your next boat charter, that you would prefer that there was not any hunting and we will find you one of the many, charter operators in South Florida, that do not cater to that clientele. Otherwise, here is a bit about these two species.
When looking at Spearfishing species that are regulated, it is very important that you know what the regulations are. Shooting and then caught in possession of an illegal fish comes with some possible harsh consequences. I have heard of some stern warnings but you certainly don't want to bank on that. Penalties for illegal catch can have you walking home as they have confiscated all of your gear and the ride that brought you there. Then perhaps a court appearance with fines or jail time. It is best that you get the regulations from the source and know what you are shooting at. Here are the regulations for Florida in a PDF format.
Grouper has an open and close season for 2012. April 30, 2012 is the last close day for Gag, Black and Red Grouper since January 1, 2012. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) also have a minimum size allowance in the Atlantic Region as well, and this is hard to Gage on a live fish that is free swimming. It is best to make sure that it is over the size minimum. When in doubt, don't shoot. Also keep in mind the bag limit on Gag and Black is only one per day. Red Grouper can be a bit smaller and you are allowed 3 in the Atlantic Region. Always know that Nassau Grouper and Goliath
Grouper are protected in Florida Waters. There is no open season for
these fish. Again I encourage you to check the regulations and always
be safe when using a spear gun.
Lion Fish, as we read in the previous news letter, are an invasive
species. You will still need a salt water fishing license (Buy it
Here) to shoot them, but there is no size or bag limit for those in
your possession. Interesting enough that I mention Lion Fish in the
same article as Grouper for many claim that the meat is very similar in
taste. I personally prefer to eat Lion Fish. They are a smaller fish
so they are easier to handle under water although you must use care.
Remember that the spines are painfully poisonous but easy to avoid when you use care. I like to shoot the fish with a paralyzer tipped 30 inch
pole spear and then put them directly into my storage tube with trap
door opening. The fish is self extracted when I pull the spear out of
the tube's opening and I am ready to shoot the next tasty Invader.
Later, I can carefully clean them when I exit the water. Here is a
video on how to clean these fish. When speaking to other avid Lion
Fish Slayers, as they affectionately call themselves, the best size are the 8 - 14" variety although up to 16" have been caught and prepared. The smaller ones tend to be left behind for scavenger fish to enjoy. I like to believe that Leaving the smaller ones behind will allow other fish to develop a taste for Lion fish and perhaps they will get their own one day.
If you have a favorite way to prepare your Lion fish, I would enjoy hearing about it. I have seen them smoked and made into fish dip, deep fried in a crunchy beer batter, and pan fried crispy for taco meat. In
a recent attempt at finding a new recipe, I came across one for Braised Lion fish in Szechuan Hot Bean Sauce. Now that does sound tasty.
On May 12, 2012 American Dive Center is competing for a top spot in a 4 day (spread over 8 weeks) Lion fish Derby. This tournament is the South Florida Invitational Lionfish Team Challenge. There are sponsors and prizes and of course bragging rights for the top teams. If you are interested in this event we are putting together a team of 4 - 8 team members. Only 6 can compete at one time against another top team from one of 16 dive shops participating in South Florida. For details stop in or email us and we will help you get on the team. Entry fee is only $60 per team and boat fees are only $60 per two tank diver. If you are only available for one day, let us know as well. There may be room for you. The first event will have us pegged against Boynton Beach Dive Center on their boat Dolphin Sun. We will have a potluck BBQ afterwords at the dive center. What a great idea.
Whether you are shooting Lion fish with a short spear or if you are loaded for Grouper with a 42" spear gun, it is really important that you are careful, respect others in the water, monitor your guages, and
mind the laws that the FWC have laid out. Enjoy yourselves out there and share your stories. I really enjoy seeing your photos and hearing about the one that didn't get away.
Manager of Operations
American Dive Center