Matanzas on the Bay of Fort Myers Beach is hosting FGCU Spearfishing's second annual 2015 Southwest Florida Lionfish Derby to promote control of the invasive lionfish species. The weekend event will include a spearfishing tournament and a lionfish cook-off, where local chefs will be competing for the best lionfish dish. The event is open to the public and will offer raffles and $1,500 in cash prizes. The entry fee for the tournament is $200 for four-person teams.
The event will begin Friday evening, June 26, with a captain's meeting at 6:30 p.m., offering complimentary food provided by Matanzas on the Bay.
Spearfishing will take place that Saturday, from sunrise to sunset. The tournament will range from as far south as Naples to as far north as Sarasota, ending Sunday with the weigh-in at Matanzas on the Bay, Fort Myers Beach. The cook-off will then take place Sunday afternoon along with the award presentation and raffle drawing, where you have the chance to win one of many fantastic pieces of diving gear and accessories.
"This event will feature a competitive tournament and delicious meals for the contestants to enjoy. Lionfish will be made available at no cost to the public, depending on the catch," said Glen Petrarca, general manager of Matanzas on the Bay. "We are excited for the opportunity to support invasive species control while also providing an entertaining weekend for the community."
The $1,500 in cash prizes will be awarded to the winners of the spearfishing tournament based on total number of lionfish that were harvested. First place winners will receive $600, second place is awarded $400 and third place will be presented with $200. Additional $100 prizes will be presented for largest lionfish, smallest lionfish and most live lionfish.
A destructive, invasive species along the reefs of the warm gulf waters, lionfish are actually a very tasty treat, said to have the taste and texture very similar to lobster. Glen mentioned that Matanzas may be serving the delicacy soon.
For more information about the upcoming event, or to register for the tournament, visit the 2015 Southwest Florida Lionfish Derby Facebook page by searching for "2015 Southwest Florida Lionfish Derby" or contact Cade Stokes, 863-634-8226 or email FGCULionfishDerby@gmail.com.