Monday, July 16, 2018

Frankenfish Invade Pennsylvania

Is the 'frankenfish' spreading through Pa. waters?
Are Pa. waters becoming the home of the 'frankenfish,' the invasive northern snakehead species from Asia spreading through the mid-Atlantic region?

A fisherman recently reeled in 23-inch and 25-inch snakeheads in Octoraro Creek, which is the first confirmed catch in Lancaster County, the Pa. Fish & Boat Commission told Lancaster Online.Mark Mabry of Gap says he caught the fish June 15 below the dam breast of the Octoraro Reservoir in Little Britain Township.
Nice size, and good eating!
It's not good news for fishermen, since the species from China, Russia and Korea is considered an invasive, or nuisance fish, Snakeheads are predatory and compete with other fish species for food and habit, says the Pa. Fish & Boat Commission.

A pair were first found in the mid-Atlantic region in 2002, in a Maryland pond, and they have been seen in Florida, North Carolina and California.

Northern snakeheads were first confirmed in Pennsylvania in July 2004, when two were caught in Meadow Lake in Philadelphia County. The lake, part of a maze of interconnected bays and tidal slough, led to the commission to believe the fish were likely present in the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers.

Lancaster Online says one was caught in May 2017 in Bernhardt's Dam in Berks County, and the commission had received reports of the fish in the lower Octoraro River.The Fish & Boat Commission says they know of no practical way to eradicate the species, but will continue monitoring them.

You can see from the map that Octoraro Creek cuts off of the Susquehanna River below Conowingo Dam, so they're not saying that Snakeheads have invaded the upper Chesapeake Bay drainage in Pennsylvania and New York. However, it's entirely possible for that Snakeheads have availed themselves of the fish ladder at Conowingo Dam, there to help shad and other anadromous fish over the structure. Although snakeheads breath air and can "walk" on land, they are unlikely to walk up and around the dam.

While commercial bowhunters won't eliminate the snakeheads, it is very effective, and will keep the populations down, if the Potomac River is any example. Meanwhile, the bass will dine on young snakeheads.

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