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Snakeheads on the Move

he Northern Snakehead fish is an invasive species, native to China, and was first discovered in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in 2002 in a Crofton pond. Since then, the snakehead has become firmly established in the Patuxent River and has spread to other fresh and low-salinity tidal waters in Maryland and Virginia, including the Potomac, Nanticoke, Wicomico, and Blackwater rivers. Now it seems that the unwelcome fish has spread into the C&O Canal and on to the non-tidal Upper Potomac River above Great Falls, a site where they had never before been reported. Snakeheads breed rapidly and prey on native fish, which makes their continued spread an increasing problem. Reports of snakehead sightings have been validated by a Maryland Department of Natural Resources and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Survey conducted earlier this year. According to DNR inland fisheries biologist John Mullican, “Eradication is not possible once these fish become established in an open river system such as the Potomac. We expect that these fish will eventually become a permanent part of the Upper Potomac fish community. Confronting snakeheads in the canal system is the best way to mitigate their emigration into the Upper Potomac.” Currently, DNR, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service are developing programs to monitor and control the abundance of snakeheads in the canal system. DNR asks anglers to enjoy pursuing, catching and removing Maryland’s three most troublesome invasive fish—snakeheads, blue catfish, and flathead catfish by any legal method. There is no seasonal, size, or creel limits for these three invasive species in Maryland. DNR also asks anglers to report any snakeheads caught from the C&O Canal or Potomac River upstream of Great Falls to fishingreports.dnr@maryland.gov, and to please include a photo and detailed description of the capture location including GPS coordinates, if possible. And if any anglers are participating in the Maryland Fishing Challenge, there is an invasive species award category. For more information, visit dnr2.maryland.gov. Follow us!

##Biologists found a juvenile snakehead in the C&O Canal. Photo courtesy of MD DNR

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PropTalk Magazine September 2015  
PropTalk Magazine September 2015  

Chesapeake Bay Boating