Snakehead fish continuing their spread in Berks and relaxation of southeast PA

Snakehead. Frankenfish.

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

They can improve in excessive of 33 inches and have a toothy mouth and are indigenous to China, Russian and Korea.

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

The U.S. Geological Survey states, “During all of their daily life stages, snakehead fish compete with indigenous species for food items and habitat. A main issue is that snakeheads may possibly out-contend (and sooner or later displace) essential indigenous or other recognized predatory fish that share the similar habitat.

” As older people, snakeheads can be voracious predators. Really should snakeheads come to be set up in North American ecosystems, their predatory behavior could also dramatically disrupt food stuff webs and ecological ailments, hence permanently switching indigenous aquatic units by modifying the array of indigenous species.”

Snakehead fish continuing their spread in Berks and relaxation of southeast PA
Invasive snakehead fish have a mouth stuffed with tooth. (Courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey)

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

On May possibly 24, the Maryland Division of Natural Assets declared they were giving absent reward playing cards valued at $10 to $200 for catching a tagged northern snakehead by 2024.

The point out company partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Assistance to place blue or yellow tags on 500 snakehead in an energy to keep track of their inhabitants.

“In get to qualify, the harvester need to report the tag variety to USFWS at 800-448-8322, and is asked to acquire a photograph of their harvested and tagged northern snakehead,” the MDNR site states. “Only harvested northern snakeheads with noted tags will qualify for present playing cards.”

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

On May 21, he harvested a feminine with an egg sack he estimates was 18 to 24 inches extended when looking carp in the Maiden Creek together Route 662 in Richmond Township where by it satisfies Moselem Creek and empties into Lake Ontelaunee.

Snakeheads are not new to Berks County.

The initial formal record of a single staying harvested was in 2017 at Bernhart Dam reservoir in Muhlenberg Township. The U.S. Geological Study keeps an on line databases of northern snakehead harvests on the internet in its Nonindigenous Aquatic Species databases.

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

“Our company sends all verified records of aquatic invasive species, this kind of as northern snakehead, to the U.S. Geological Study Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database,” said the  Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s Andrew Desko in a May well 31 electronic mail. “Other organizations and groups send documents below as well, and it is up-to-day for Northern Snakehead (other than information for Blue Marsh Lake, which were just lately despatched in).”

Desko is the southeast location outreach training coordinator for the fish and boat fee, which consists of Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill counties.

Bosch’s report to the fee was not logged on the USGS site as of June 7. There are only a few experiences logged for Berks on it: two at Bernhart Dam in 2017 and 2018, and a person at Lake Ontelaunee in 2020.

Listed here are the selection of studies of snakeheads on the USGS web-site from the rest of the fish and boat  commission’s southeast area: Bucks County, 11 Chester County, 5 Delaware County, 9 Lancaster County, 2 Northampton County, 2 Philadelphia, 4.

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

Bosch, 37, claimed he heard various fellow anglers speak of catching snakeheads in Lake Ontelaunee. He explained he has been fishing for extra than 20 many years and bow fishing for about 10 yrs.

Snakeheads are not at present on the list of species allowed to be taken by bow in Pennsylvania.

“Here is the rationalization of which teams of fish can be taken lawfully with a bow and arrow,” Desko stated. “Bow and arrow (including compound bows and crossbows) may well be applied for getting only carp, suckers and catfish on all commonwealth waters, day or evening, with the pursuing exceptions: bow fishing is strictly prohibited in stocked trout waters for the duration of the closed time and bow fishing is strictly prohibited in exclusive regulation trout waters.”

Bosch said he documented the snakehead he took by bow and was explained to he technically could be cited for it. Nevertheless, given that snakeheads are not formally on the harvest regulation checklist in Pennsylvania, he mentioned he was instructed just to not do it once again.

He stated he hopes polices are enacted to make taking invasive fish species by bow legal in Pennsylvania simply because it presently is in Maryland and New Jersey. Unlike Pennsylvania, Maryland rules only checklist species that can’t be taken with a bow, and in New Jersey snakeheads are specifically permitted.

In Might 2020, Pennsylvania urged anglers to report and damage any snakeheads caught in the reduce Susquehanna River mainly because they experienced been observed breaching the Conowingo Dam.

Screenshot of PAFBC website snakehead fishing regulations

MediaNews Group screenshot

A June 6, 2022, screenshot of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website’s restrictions on snakehead fish. (MediaNews Group screenshot)

Now, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission internet site indicates anglers report snakehead catches to 814-359-5163, by means of e mail to [email protected] or on the an on the web kind. The website also says it is illegal to possess stay snakehead species, introduce them into condition waters, transport reside ones or to market or get them.

Biologists believe that they were launched to U.S. waters by the pet homeowners or supporters of area fish industry offerings of the imported species.

Some anglers say they are very good taking in.

Bosch was partnering with good friends who harvested snakeheads in Maryland and New Jersey to hold a fish fry following his capture.

Maryland dining establishments have even had snakeheads on the menu for some time.

If you do capture what you think is a snakehead, be certain to get the identification correct.

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

1 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 variety and have a much more rounded head and might have a place around the tail.

The fish and boat commission has developed an identification poster at https://www.fishandboat.com/Fish/PennsylvaniaFishes/Files/snakehead-poster.pdf.

snakehead fish identification poster