Startling Snakehead Fish Just Confirmed Here In Louisiana Waters
Though this fish isn't native to the United States, we have had to deal with this invasive species for a number of years now.
Just the name of the fish is enough to strike fear into the hearts of many.
The dreaded Snakehead! Told you it would make the hair on the back of your neck stand up didn't I.
The fish that actually has the ability to crawl across dry ground to move between bodies of water has just been confirmed to be here in Louisiana waters.
Even the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources says:
They can even live out of water for several days, thanks to their ability to breathe air
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has just verified that two Northern Snakehead fish and a ball of fry were spotted in a video that was reportedly taken in Old River in Minorica, a rural community in Concordia Parish.
In an interview with the Louisiana Radio Network, LDWF Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator Rob Bourgeois says they could impact our native fisheries.
“Like with most invasive species, they compete with our native species for resources. Whether that’s nesting, habitat, food resources, or even direct predation of our native fishes and so that’s the concern.”
“Arkansas has been having them for a while; ten to fifteen years now. These guys made their way to the Mississippi River. They crossed over in the Mississippi a few years ago and so more than likely they kinda’ swam downstream in the river and that’s downstream of where they were at.”
Northern Snakeheads, which are native to Asia, are a non-native species. They look a lot like our native Bowfin or what some of us here in Louisiana call a "Grinnell" or “Choupique” (pronounced shoe-pick).
But, the Northern Snakehead, which can grow up to three feet in length, is a highly predatory fish that can out compete and prey on native species. So, it is important that you are able to distinguish the difference.
If you think you caught a Northern Snakehead, DO NOT return the fish to the water. Take a side view photo of the fish (if possible). Kill it, freeze it (double bag) and contact LDWF’s Aquatic Invasive Species Hotline at (225) 765-3977 or AquaticInvasives@wlf.la.gov. Please note the exact location of the catch.
Because the snakehead is considered to be an invasive species, LDWF will monitor the situation closely. However, we do not expect them to have major impacts to our native fish. In other states where snakeheads are already present, there has not yet been major impact on native fish. Unlike invasive carp, they are slower at reproducing.
There is one upside to these snakeheads according to LDWF. They are edible and many people find them quite tasty. So feel free to enjoy if you do catch one!