The snakehead is a voracious predator, with a mouth full of stout peg like teeth, a torpedo shaped body with a camouflage pattern, evolved for stealth attack from concealment, and a healthy, and nondiscriminating appetite. It is feared that the snakehead will compete with and even consume the native gamefish, such as largemouth bass, with whom they share the same general habitat.
They are apparently pretty well established in the Potomac River, and by the speed at which the number of reports by fishermen, and government investigators from Maryland, Virginia and PRFC have increased, there is a general consensus that there is really no practical means of exterminating them, now. Thus, one would have to conclude that this is a successful, and likely undesirable invasive species. Maryland law mandates that any snakeheads caught while fishing should be destroyed. A bit like trying to empty the river with a dixie cup.
There is, however a growing appreciation of the snakehead as a gamefish. Growing up to 4 ft long, they can be caught using many of the same tactics as largemouth bass; top water plugs, live bait, flies etc. A friend of mine, Mike Starrett, who guides out of the Potomac (Indian Head Charters) reports that his clients have caught a number of them, and they are tough fighting adversaries. Others (non-orientals) report that they are tasty too. So, is the snakehead a scourge, an opportunity, or both? All I know is I want to catch one. And I'll eat it when I do.
|Capt. Mike and a happy client with a snakehead caught in Mattawoman Creek, off the Potomac River.|
Hat tip to Bill Curry.