Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival 2022
In an aquarium, a lionfish is a magnificent creature, with brilliant stripes and showy spines and rays. In the Florida Keys, however, these beautiful fish are dangerous, deadly predators. They are not native to the area, and with its voracious appetite and fast rate of reproduction, the lionfish leaves native species with little opportunity to compete, leaving coral reefs less diverse and less healthy. Because of this, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission encourages lionfish fishing in Florida waters to protect native marine life and ecosystems. The upcoming Florida Keys Lion Fish Derby Festival 2022 is a great time to get involved and get your taste of the salt life.
What Is the Lionfish Derby and Festival?
This is REEF’s 13th annual Lionfish festival, and it will include two full days of lionfish fishing as well as a family-friendly event at a local resort and marina. The public is welcome to the festival, which includes lionfish fishing and scoring, fileting, and dissecting demonstrations. You can taste various preparations of lionfish, and chefs will demonstrate ways you can cook lionfish and prepare unique dishes just for you. Drink specials will be available, and you and your family can participate in a variety of lionfish games and crafts. Raffle prizes are available, and you can browse or shop at a variety of booths operated by environmentally minded vendors.
The festival begins on Thursday, September 8, 2022, with the Captain’s Meeting for registered derby teams. This takes place at the REEF Campus in Key Largo at 6:30 p.m. The Captain’s Meeting is offered both in-person and virtually for your convenience and is mandatory for team captains. However, all participants are encouraged to attend to learn safe collecting and handling techniques as well as derby rules.
Fishing begins on Friday at sunrise and continues all day long. Gear rental is available as needed. Fishing continues on Saturday at sunrise and will continue throughout the day until sundown. All teams that intend to fish in areas falling under the FKNMS, FWC, and DEP permit must pick up packet materials, flags, and permits at the REEF campus during the week of September 5th or during the Captain’s Meeting.
On Sunday, September 11, the festival’s awards ceremony will take place at Postcard Inn Beach Resort, and the final weigh-in will take place at 11:30 a.m. Prizes will be awarded to those teams who catch the smallest lionfish, the largest lionfish, and the most lionfish. A golden Fish raffle award will also be rewarded.
Where to Stay: Mangrove Marina
At Mangrove Marina, we offer a convenient home base for those attending the Lionfish Derby & Festival. We have wet slips where you can stay in your own boat as well as houseboats for you to rent with your group. You can drop anchor and stay a while to enjoy everything our resort has to offer, including our barbecue facilities, on-site restaurant and bar, Tiki huts, heated freshwater pool, and conveniently located marina, which is conveniently located in Tavernier at Mile Marker 91.7 on the Bayside and between Markers 62 and 65 on the ICW.