Lionfish Tournament - Matanzas

Matanzas on the Bay on Fort Myers Beach hosted FGCU Spearfishing’s second annual 2015 Southwest Florida Lionfish Derby June 26-28 to promote awareness of invasive species control. The event included a spearfishing tournament amongst four teams and a lionfish cook-off between four local chefs. This year’s event brought in a total of 462 lionfish and raised nearly $800 to go toward future FGCU Spearfishing events and tournaments. Following the tournament, chefs at Matanzas On the Bay and several other local chefs cooked up an estimated 400 fresh lionfish, serving more than 200 people at the event.

Of the four spearfishing teams that participated in the tournament, first place went to Zookeeper/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) with 218 lionfish, second place to Jim’s Dive Shop with 182 lionfish and third place to Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) with 60 lionfish. Team Zookeeper/FWC also placed in categories for smallest and largest lionfish. The public declared Jeff Acol of A Table Apart in Bonita Springs the winner of the lionfish cook-off with his fresh lionfish dish. Acol’s competitors included Dave Chetwin of Matanzas on the Bay, Jason Grasty of Roy’s in Bonita Springs and Seth Hayes of Snookin N Cookin.

“We are impressed by the amount of lionfish that were caught during the tournament and we are glad to have had played a role in helping the community learn more about how we can help control this invasive species,” said Glen Petrarca, general manager of Matanzas on the Bay. “Our guests enjoyed the delicious lionfish dishes that were prepared by the local chefs and we believe that this event played a significant role in raising awareness of the threat of non-native wildlife and its impact on our environment.”

FWC marine biologists, Meaghan Faletti and Alex Fogg were able to share their knowledge of invasive species control with the public during the event, answering questions and collecting data on the lionfish harvest. After comparing this year’s catch to last year’s results, FWC determined that that the average size lionfish caught during the Southwest Florida Lionfish Derby increased by 100 millimeters.

Matanzas on the Bay and Petey’s Upper Deck are best known for waterfront views, fresh seafood and old Florida ambience and is located at 416 Crescent St. on Fort Myers Beach on Estero Bay. In partnership with Oakes Farm, Matanzas On the Bay proudly offers farm-to-table cuisine including locally grown fruits and vegetables, local seafood, steaks. Matanzas On the Bay offers a full bar, and serves lunch and dinner daily and caters to special occasions and private parties. The restaurant is located adjacent to the Matanzas Inn Resort waterfront accommodations, just steps away from the Fort Myers Beach entertainment district. Free car parking and boat dockage is available. To book your party or for more information, call 239-463-3838 or visit