The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced that 69 anglers submitted 82 snakehead landing reports to the DNR Angler’s Log. Anglers’ from the log were automatically entered in a drawing, held on January 9, which featured prizes donated by Bass Pro Shops, Maryland State Parks and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission.
“We do not want snakeheads in our waters,” says DNR Inland Fisheries Director Don Cosden. “This initiative is a way to remind anglers that it’s important to catch and kill this invasive, non-native species of fish.” The Northern Snakehead is a highly-regarded Asian species and was introduced to the Potomac River most likely by people intent on serving this exotic fish in an underground market. Snakeheads are voracious, invasive, non-native predators with the potential to greatly affect the ecosystem as they prey on other local forage and game fish.
In mid-April of last year, DNR joined the Potomac River Fisheries Commission and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to promote catching and killing snakeheads as a way to collect data on the expanding range of these apex predators, and to enlist the help of recreational anglers in controlling the population.
“This contest was a great way for us to see how many snakeheads are being caught in the Potomac,” said Josh Newhard, a snakehead biologist with USFWS. “We hope anglers continue to target and remove this species from the waters of Maryland and Virginia.”
DNR registered more than 170 snakeheads ranging from 1½ – to 16- pounds. Anglers caught snakeheads from April to October, with most coming from Potomac River, between May and July. The fish were most prevalent in grasses, near cover and among lily pads.
While most anglers fished tidal water, a few found success at Bumpy Oak Pond. In his Angler’s Log post, Angler Bao Huynh of Fort Meade referred to the pond as “snakehead pond.”
The Angler’s Log, located at dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/fishingreport/log.asp, is a family-friendly, online fishing forum hosted by the DNR Fisheries Service. The log celebrates Maryland’s wealth of angling opportunities and provides a platform for up-to-date fishing information from the region’s most avid anglers.
The Angler’s Log provides DNR and USFWS with valuable data on the spread of snakeheads while helping anglers pinpoint likely locations and techniques for the chase. Anglers who caught USFWS-tagged fish received an embroidered “Snakehead Control” ball cap. All Angler’s Log snakehead anglers were automatically entered into a drawing for a $200 Bass Pro gift card, a 2012 Maryland State Park pass, and a Potomac River Fishing License.
$200 Bass Pro Shop gift card: Rodney Hose of Lexington Park, who found his winning fish along the Occoquan River shoreline using a white chatterbait with a four-inch Zoom trailer. The fish took the bait just south of the wildlife refuge.
“These fish clobber any type of moving bait you throw,” said Hose. “When they smash into your lure, be prepared for a fight; especially if they are around some sort of cover.”
2012 Potomac River Fishing License: Jim Burgess from Haymarket, Va. who caught his fish in Quantico Creek a tributary to the Potomac River.
Maryland State Parks Passport: James Berry of Chesapeake Beach, with the 16-pound fish he caught near Fort Washington on the Potomac River using a compound bow, a popular method for harvesting Northern Snakehead.
Dutch Baldwin of Indian Head, harvested 26 with bow-and-arrow, but cautioned that they spook easily during the day.
DNR also mounted a successful seafood marketing campaign to introduce snakeheads to top chefs and seafood lovers. Many anglers cleaned and cooked the fish with great results. Avid angler Hon Kwon recommends in his Angler’s Log post to simply fillet them like a striped bass with a cut along the dorsal fin and backbone down to the tail.
DNR, PRFC, and the USFWS intend to run the promotion again in 2012. For information, visit dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/fishingreport/log.asp.