Discovering the Snakehead Invasion
A “snakehead” sounds like something right out of a monster movie. Their incursion into areas, often spoken of as an actual invasion, lends even more weight to the idea. Snakeheads are quite real. They can be found in Northern Virginia, and in particular right within Neabsco Creek. Neabsco is one of the best places in the world to fish for these Asian Invaders! It’s not surprising that even many people who grew up in the area have never heard of them before. The fish only recently came into the area! Unlike the people who live nearby, snakeheads are not here to kayak or use a stand up paddleboard. The fish are here to try and spread themselves as far and wide as they can.
Snakeheads, whose heads resemble that of a snake, have a unique way of introducing themselves into an area. Unlike most fish, they’re actually able to survive for quite some time out of water. Most fish depend on waterways to get them into new habitats. Snakeheads can simply walk there. Or, rather, flop slowly from one body of water to another over an extended period of time. Inelegant as their locomotion might be, it has proven quite effective. Once they make their way into an area, they tend to quickly spread out from there. The abundance of food sources and lack of predators is a boon to their population.
This is also how they made their way into Neabsco Creek. The snakehead population in the area has probably come from two sources. One is a general influx from unknown sources. We know that there have been multiple small snakehead invasions, but the specifics will always be a mystery. However, the one we do know about comes from their illegal introduction to Ruffin’s Mill Pond. One or both of these served as the base for a gradual march into neighboring streams and ponds. Eventually they found their way into Neabsco Creek.
As one might guess from their ability to travel over land, a snakehead is both tough and tenacious. When young they can quickly out-compete most other fish for food. As adults, those same fish quickly become the snakehead’s prey. In fact, they’re so tough that they’ve even been known to eat small mammals such as mice or rats.
This is also why it’s so important to try and catch them. When going to kayak or stand up paddleboard, one should keep in mind the natural beauty of the environment. The local area, and Northern Virginia generally, provides us all with some fantastic experiences and opportunities for outdoor adventure. That beauty is always threatened by invasive species, but they’re not always a species one can do something about. Even less often does one have the chance to do so in a way that’s actually fun. Because when one gets down to it, snakeheads are fish and they provide the same great fishing experience as any other.
The main difference is that when catching a snakehead one’s doing a public service. One’s also getting a chance to catch a quite unique animal. For all the destructive potential it has, the snakehead is an amazing looking fish. It looks almost like something out of the time of dinosaurs and the sizes it can reach reflects it. The taste is remarkable as well. While new in the US, there’s a long tradition of catching and preparing it in areas such as Burma and Vietnam. And, in areas less suited to them, such as Betawi, the combination of taste and scarcity has made them an outright delicacy.
Top-water live-action lures are recommended for catching these fish. Fishing for these invaders is popular in all of the freshwater Potomac. Neabsco Creek in particular has proven an excellent location for the targeting of this species. Anglers come from all around to take advantage of the natural beauty found at Neabsco Creek while taking advantage of one of the top locations for catching snakeheads. Fishing from a paddleboard or kayak, savvy anglers keep their eyes open for top-water snakeheads prowling for prey. Sight casting yields good fishing results. Come down to Penguin Paddling at Hampton’s Landing and try your hand at catching this monstrous invader today.