December 2, 2023

Pet Life Today

Professional Pets Experts

Snakehead fish continuing their spread in southeast PA, Berks

Snakehead. Frankenfish.

Neither of the common names for the submarine-shaped fish scientifically known as Channa argus are especially flattering.

They can grow in surplus of 33 inches and have a toothy mouth and are native to China, Russian and Korea.

In the U.S., they are officially invasive.

The U.S. Geological Survey states, “During all of their lifetime stages, snakehead fish contend with native species for food items and habitat. A key worry is that snakeheads could possibly out-compete (and ultimately displace) crucial indigenous or other set up predatory fish that share the exact habitat.

” As adults, snakeheads can be voracious predators. Need to snakeheads grow to be established in North American ecosystems, their predatory actions could also drastically disrupt foodstuff webs and ecological disorders, consequently eternally transforming indigenous aquatic systems by modifying the array of indigenous species.”

A snakehead fish's mouth being held open to show teeth.
Invasive snakehead fish have a mouth filled with enamel. (Courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey)

The unwanted foreigners even have a bounty on their heads in Maryland.

On May perhaps 24, the Maryland Department of Purely natural Assets declared they were supplying away gift playing cards valued at $10 to $200 for catching a tagged northern snakehead by 2024.

The condition agency partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Company to put blue or yellow tags on 500 snakehead in an effort and hard work to keep track of their population.

“In order to qualify, the harvester will have to report the tag quantity to USFWS at 800-448-8322, and is requested to just take a photograph of their harvested and tagged northern snakehead,” the MDNR website states. “Only harvested northern snakeheads with documented tags will qualify for reward cards.”

However for Oley Township resident Brad Bosch, there is no bounty for the invasive species in Pennsylvania.

On May 21, he harvested a female with an egg sack he estimates was 18 to 24 inches extensive even though looking carp in the Maiden Creek alongside Route 662 in Richmond Township the place it fulfills Moselem Creek and empties into Lake Ontelaunee.

Snakeheads are not new to Berks County.

The initial formal history of 1 staying harvested was in 2017 at Bernhart Dam reservoir in Muhlenberg Township. The U.S. Geological Study keeps an on the web databases of northern snakehead harvests on the web in its Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database.

The very first confirmed harvest of the fish in Pennsylvania happened in Philadelphia’s FDR Park in 2004.

“Our agency sends all verified records of aquatic invasive species, these kinds of as northern snakehead, to the U.S. Geological Study Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database,” explained the  Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s Andrew Desko in a May 31 electronic mail. “Other businesses and teams mail documents in this article as perfectly, and it is up-to-date for Northern Snakehead (other than information for Blue Marsh Lake, which ended up just not too long ago despatched in).”

Desko is the southeast area outreach education coordinator for the fish and boat fee, which contains Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill counties.

Bosch’s report to the commission was not logged on the USGS website as of June 7. There are only three reports logged for Berks on it: two at Bernhart Dam in 2017 and 2018, and a single at Lake Ontelaunee in 2020.

Listed here are the amount of experiences of snakeheads on the USGS site from the relaxation of the fish and boat  commission’s southeast region: Bucks County, 11 Chester County, 5 Delaware County, 9 Lancaster County, 2 Northampton County, 2 Philadelphia, 4.

The only 2022 report shown for Pennsylvania was Could 12 in Chester Creek at the Delaware County Field and Stream Association.

Bosch, 37, explained he read numerous fellow anglers speak of catching snakeheads in Lake Ontelaunee. He stated he has been fishing for a lot more than 20 several years and bow fishing for about 10 yrs.

Snakeheads are not now on the checklist of species permitted to be taken by bow in Pennsylvania.

“Here is the explanation of which groups of fish can be taken lawfully with a bow and arrow,” Desko mentioned. “Bow and arrow (such as compound bows and crossbows) might be made use of for taking only carp, suckers and catfish on all commonwealth waters, working day or night time, with the adhering to exceptions: bow fishing is strictly prohibited in stocked trout waters for the duration of the shut period and bow fishing is strictly prohibited in exclusive regulation trout waters.”

Bosch explained he claimed the snakehead he took by bow and was explained to he technically could be cited for it. On the other hand, given that snakeheads are not officially on the harvest regulation checklist in Pennsylvania, he explained he was explained to just to not do it yet again.

He said he hopes restrictions are enacted to make having invasive fish species by bow authorized in Pennsylvania mainly because it currently is in Maryland and New Jersey. Compared with Pennsylvania, Maryland polices only list species that cannot be taken with a bow, and in New Jersey snakeheads are specially permitted.

In Could 2020, Pennsylvania urged anglers to report and demolish any snakeheads caught in the reduce Susquehanna River because they experienced been noticed breaching the Conowingo Dam.

Screenshot of PAFBC website snakehead fishing regulations
A June 6, 2022, screenshot of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Fee website’s rules on snakehead fish. (MediaNews Group screenshot)

Now, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Fee website indicates anglers report snakehead catches to 814-359-5163, via e mail to [email protected] or on the an on-line variety. The website also says it is unlawful to have live snakehead species, introduce them into point out waters, transport stay ones or to sell or buy them.

Biologists consider they were being released to U.S. waters by the pet proprietors or fans of community fish sector choices of the imported species.

Some anglers say they are excellent taking in.

Bosch was partnering with pals who harvested snakeheads in Maryland and New Jersey to maintain a fish fry after his catch.

Maryland dining places have even experienced snakeheads on the menu for some time.

If you do catch what you believe is a snakehead, be sure to get the identification ideal.

These torpedo-formed fish can be perplexed with indigenous fishes regarded as bowfin and burbot.

A person major identifier is that a snakehead will have scales on the entrance of its tapered head. A burbot will have a solitary barbel on its chin, like the whiskers of a catfish. Bowfin are a species that are declining in number and have a additional rounded head and may perhaps have a place near the tail.

The fish and boat fee has established an identification poster at

snakehead fish identification poster