Snakeheads were discovered 14 years ago in Fauquier County, Maryland. The amphibious, toothy and invasive fish has been found in Lake Brittle, located near New Baltimore. A biologist removed around 40 of the snakeheads from the lake this spring. John Odenkirk used the shock method on the 77-acre lake to bring up the snakeheads. The majority of these fish were taken from the lake and measured between 14 and 16 inches in length.
Mr. Odenkirk, biologist from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries believes that they were the first generation of snakeheads spawned. He believes that they are a population that is self-sustaining.
After these fish were illegally introduced to Lake Brittle last year, the state game warden convicted a local man for bragging about putting the same fish in a lake close by. Lori Kearns, a woman who operates the concession at Lake Brittle claims that many locals are displeased with the arrival of the snakeheads. She also stated that the very first snakehead she encountered was around 8 to 10 inches in length. She knows of at least four that have been found so far.
Aaron White, a New Baltimore resident has tasted a snakehead before and claims that it is the best freshwater fish he has ever had. The man started fishing at the lake when he was in kindergarten and now swings by regularly to unwind and throw a line in.
The discovery of the snakeheads in 2002 has spawned some serious concern because it will decimate the fish that are indigenous to the area. These native Asian and African fish have the ability to take over a quarter-mile of land and devour any small pests and fish in their path.
An 18-pound snakehead was caught in the Potomac a fisherman who lives in the area in May.
Snakeheads have been in VA and MD waterways for some time now, and have traveled south to the Rappahannock River. The fish can tolerate a wide range of salinity in water. The fish were originally viewed as predator free but that is suddenly being proven wrong. Biologists have discovered that waterfowl and a few different species of fish are starting to eat the snakeheads.
Chefs are beginning to appreciate the snakehead but are unable to sell them in Virginia. Maryland and D.C fish markets offer filets for $20 a pound and whole fish for around 5 dollars a fish.
This population of snakeheads remains new. Mr. Odenkirk has been monitoring what they eat by cutting open their stomach. Lake Brittle was built in 1953 for fishing by the state, which receives around 77,000 hatchlings of catfish, walleye and bass. Mr. Odenkirk believes that more and more people will be visiting Lake Brittle because of the snakehead. People will be encouraged to take the fish home and eat them regularly.