A dangerous stonefish caught in the shallows at Caloundra.
A dangerous stonefish caught in the shallows at Caloundra.

As ugly as they are dangerous: Avoid this fish at all costs

IT'S not every fishing outing that you encounter a dangerous menace as ugly as this.

While the shape, colour and fighting qualities of many species can be admired, this creature has little in its favour.

That is especially because of the venomous spines stonefish have that can provide hours of agony and even threaten a person's life if not treated immediately.

Over many years, I've caught several vermon of the sea from teeth-crunching green toads to stinging Happy Moments, pesty grinner to wobbygong sharks and wirrah cod to stingrays.

Apart from Happy Moments, this collection can normally be handled carefully and returned to the water to continue their work as aquatic vacuum cleaners.

My latest encounter with a stonefish was on my just completed holiday to Caloundra.

I was wading in the shallows at Golden Beach when something latched onto my line.

It quickly became apparent it wasn't a whiting, bream or flathead I was chasing.

A hideous-looking stonefish to be avoided at all costs.
A hideous-looking stonefish to be avoided at all costs.

It was like a dead weight, which I at first thought was a little cod before realising its true identity.

There was no way this hideous-looking fish was coming anywhere near me.

But most concerning was where the stonefish was lurking.

It was in a sandy bay at the mouth of a little canal where kids were swimming in bare feet and paddling on boards and floating devices, often slipping into the water.

A nine-year-old boy was days earlier rushed to hospital after being stung on the foot at a nearby Caloundra location.

The youngster was playing in the water when he stepped on a stonefish.

Lifeguards administered pain relief before he was taken to Sunshine Coast University Hospital for further treatment.

Thankfully no spine was left in his foot. But he spent two days on crutches after his excruciating ordeal.

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While stingrays can also spear a barb into a person's foot, stonefish present the biggest threat.

Apart from serving a reminder of what lurks in our coastal waters, my latest trip also highlighted how important it is to wear boots when wading in the shallows chasing a feed.

Like my trusty raincoat, my favourite fishing footwear is a valuable safeguard against a nasty and unwelcome holiday surprise.

This story is part of a Fishy Tales series reliving quirky and some would say unbelievable adventures.