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California Scorpionfish

This spiny little fish with a big head and oversized mouth is commonly caught on sport-fishing boats off the southern California coast.  The boats often post a picture of the fish accompanied by a bold-faced warning not to handle one that is brought on deck.  Highly venomous, needle-sharp spines arm the dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins.  When a fisherman catches one, crew members rush over to remove the hook and waste no time in snipping off the venomous spines at their bases.  On my request, one of the crew did not “amputate” the spines of my catch and placed it in a separate burlap bag.  He then gave clear warning to the other crew members about the dangerous contents of the one bag hanging apart from all the others on deck. 

Despite the venomous spines, the flesh of this fish is absolutely sweet and delicious!  One that I caught provided the freshest sashimi I’ve ever eaten.

The California scorpionfish is brightly colored with reddish-brown sides, a white belly with spots, and scalloped and banded patterns on the tail and large pectoral fins.  The large eye with a bright reddish-brown iris and the thin, yellowish ring around the pupil is especially striking.  The gyotaku was made with red, brown, and black inks and details including spots and the banded patterns were later added in watercolor.

Size:  16 x 11 inches  (2001)

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