TIPS FOR HANDLING SCORPIONFISH SAFETLY
June 6, 2004, Torrance Eddy, La Paz, Mexico Fishing Report:
Safely handling Scorpionfish.
The writer of these instructions is only telling the reader what he does and takes no responsibility for any injury resulting from following the instructions below no matter how well they are followed.
--Accept the fact that the injuries from these little guys is much worse than that of a scorpion or sting ray but not as bad as that of a rattlesnake. Second, they are delicious and their meat is not poisonous in any way.
--If you are using live or cut bait and you would rather release the scorpionfish and/or not risk injury no matter how good they are to eat, I recommend cutting the line over the water. If you try to get the hook out, you're taking the same risk as I take when keeping the fish for eating. And the hook will dissolve soon enough to allow the fish to survive.
--And if you are using hard baits or plastics and want them back, the same technique applies. Do not, I repeat, do not grab you're lure or hook with your hand or pliers and shake because you're liable to shake the dorsal fin into your skin. I tried this once and got lucky. I could see how close my skin came to the spines. Also never, ever put a sculpin in a gunny sack or live well. It's really easy to forget that little red scorpionfish is in there. With all these cautions, you have probably already figured out how much I like to eat these things.
--OK, now if you really want a great meal and have a sense of dangerous adventure keeping in mind that you can also get stung after the fish is long dead,
--Hold the line above the scorpionfish over the water at least equal to the length of the fish.
--Simultaneously insert one point of the longest needle nose pliers you can get your hands on into the scorpionfish's mouth with the other end between the eyes on top of it's head. And it's not a bad idea to wear fish cleaning gloves. Hold the fish this way just as you would a live cobra. Put your reel in free spool with the clicker on.
--Take the longest, sharpest filet knife and 'slab' filet the fish from behind the gill. Filet the fish on one side with the dorsal fin away from you. If your knife is long, simply flip the fish over still holding on for dear life. Fillet the other side the same way. The second side may point the spines at your hand so keep your distance. If you're handy with your right and left hand, carefully change hands on the pliers. That way you can make both fillet cuts with the spines away from your hands. In any event keep them as far away as possible.
--Now it is relatively safe to remove the hook or lure and drop the remains of the fish back to the sea.
(See "Mexico Fishing News" online for current fishing reports, photos, weather, and water temperatures from La Paz and other major Mexican sportfishing areas. Vacation travel articles, fishing maps and seasonal calendars, and fishing related information for La Paz may be found at Mexfish.com's main La Paz page.