Three anglers won nearly $300 in prizes for catching and killing snakehead fish in the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) 2012 Snakehead Contest. Through the contest, 256 anglers removed nearly 600 fish from the Potomac River system. To enter, participants shared their experiences on the Department’s Angler’s Log, reporting how they caught the invasive fish, where they found them, some even sharing delicious ways to prepare them.
The contest ran from March 1 to November 30, 2012, with DNR choosing the winning anglers at random. Kasie Taylor won a $200 Bass Pro Shop gift card; Jerry Lester won a 2013 Maryland State Park Passport worth $75; and Les King won a 2013 fishing license donated by the Potomac River Fisheries Commission.
DNR launched the contest in 2010 to monitor how far the species has spread and encourage anglers to capture and remove snakeheads from Maryland waters.
The Department plans to add the snakehead to the list of species in the Volunteer Angler Survey, which uses anglers’ catch data to help fisheries managers assess fish populations. For the 2013 fishing season, snakehead anglers who log their catches on the Angler’s Log will be automatically entered in the Volunteer Angler Survey with the chance to win prizes. The single-species Snakehead Contest therefore, has been discontinued.
The snakehead is a non-native fish species that was illegally introduced to the Potomac River. Snakeheads have thrived and expanded due to their ability to adapt to the Potomac’s ecosystem, and they now occupy the Potomac River and many of its tributaries. As top predators, their negative impacts to the ecosystem and other important recreational and commercially valued fisheries could be significant. Snakeheads have also been caught in the Patuxent, Nanticoke and Wicomico rivers.
Image courtesy Maryland Department of Natural Resources