lionfish hunting

It's been a while since I've posted about the hunter-gatherer in this marriage. I suppose the last time might have been in the winter when he was doing some lobster hunting (the season runs from December to February.) But recently, NS and WH have been tracking down prey of a more pervasive variety: Lionfish.

You may recall that shortly after coming to Grand Cayman, both NS and myself became licensed lionfish cullers. At that time, we were educated on how to catch the lionfish using nets and tickle sticks. Since then, the Department of Environment determined that it would be prudent to provide all interested LLCs with spears in order to hunt the fish more effectively. This is when the activity became much more interesting our friend NS.

As if diving wasn't adventure enough, NS decided to add a hunting aspect. On a regular basis, N and W take their tanks to South Sound, enter the water for a shore dive, and come back with 15 or so pounds of lionfish stuffed into large plastic containers.

Lionfish hunting is inherently dangerous because of the venomous spines that line their exterior. Seriously, these spines project outward from almost all directions, so it's important to avoid the spines both before and after the kill. 

The first step in cleaning the fish is removing the spines from a dorsal fin.

You'll notice he's wearing gloves throughout this process. That's another form of protection from the toxic spines.

The rest of the fish cleaning process is fairly typical. Well, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am not sure what a typical fish cleaning process is. But this seemed standard enough to me.

And here's where the squeamish should look away. (If you must, just scroll to the bottom where things look more appetizing.)

One interesting option for lionfish cullers is that several local restaurants on the island make a point to serve lionfish (and other local meats and produce) as a regular part of their menus. Notably, Michael's Genuine Food and Drink in Camana Bay offers hunters $4/lb in cash for de-spined lionfish, or $6/lb in restaurant credit. Guess who's racking up quite a fancy dinner credit at Michael's these days.

Once the spines and skin have been removed, it's time to harvest that nice, light, flaky, white fish fillet.

Mmm, this stack of lionfish fillets is just filled with dinner possibilities.

And now for just a couple more gross photos before moving on to the evening's objective: A fishy family dinner.

Above, N shows off the bulky lionfish head. Useless to me, except for the photo op.

Below, N gives me a tour of the inner workings of a lionfish. No amount of Googling would help me solve the mystery of that green thing. If you know more, comment below.

So while N skinned and cleaned, W cooked up a delicious fish fry. Lionfish meat is so light and non-fishy, that it can be seasoned practically any way you like.

He prepared some dipped in egg and lightly breaded, and others just fried in olive oil with salt and pepper seasoning.

There's nothing fresher than catching your own food and eating it the same day. (Or in my case, being married to someone who's willing to catch, clean, and cook your dinner. One lucky girl am I.)

Dinner with the "family". Smiles all around!

If you're interested in learning more about lionfish in Cayman, as well as how to become licensed to hunt them, check out the DOE's website here

Happy hunting, and bon appetite!


  1. dinner with the family - so sweet! i love that you get credit at Michaels too!