Maryland has a new state record fish, and it belongs to an archer from Marbury. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced this week that Todd Murphy caught a 17.47-pound northern snakehead while bowfishing in Mattwoman Creek on August 8. The fish broke the previous record, a 16.94-pound snakehead caught by Teddy McKenzie in 2014.

“I went out on the high tide expecting to find catfish up in the flooded grass,” Murphy said. “I was surprised to find snakeheads instead, and ended up with seven of them and not a single catfish.”

The bowfisherman works at a nearby facility as a high-voltage technician, and has a habit of going straight to the creek after work to chase after blue catfish or snakeheads. Murphy told the DNR that he fished from a custom jon boat equipped with a dazzling array of LED lights that let him see better in the dark. In a photo submitted to the DNR, Murphy measured the fish to be about 35.5 inches long.

Murphy's snakehead measured.
Murphy’s snakehead measured.

“I’m taking it up to Chef Chad Wells at Alewife in Baltimore, and he’s going to cook us a special dinner,” the archer said when asked about his plans for the fish.

Northern snakeheads are considered an invasive species in Maryland, alongside blue and flathead catfish. Due to this, there are no limits to harvesting the species and the fish can be caught by an legal fishing method. State biologists encourage anglers to catch snakehead if they can, but the fish’s behavior makes it hard to bring in on a rod and reel. Snakeheads are, however, very popular with bowfishermen.

In June, another massive snakehead was caught by Dan Moon in the Potomac River. The bowfishermen claimed that fish weighed an eye-opening 18.8 pounds, which if true would make it not only the Maryland state record, but also possibly the largest snakehead ever harvested anywhere in the world. However, Moon was unable to locate a certified scale to confirm the fish’s weight and ultimately ate the snakehead before it could be measured.

“For any official state or world record you must get the fish weighed on a certified scale. Unfortunately it is difficult to find a certified scale in some areas, and many tackle shops do not carry them,” the DNR Fisheries Service stated on Facebook.

“Your best bet then is to take a possible record fish to a seafood dealer or a grocery store for a certified weight. Get the scale operator to mark the weight and sign his/her name and contact number on a sheet of butcher paper. Then get a DNR biologist out to confirm the species,” the agency said.

Images courtesy Maryland Department of Natural Resources

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  • NorthernMichiganBoy

    Big fish, but why would the Maryland Fisheries Dept recognize this invasive species as a record. I thought being invasive and with all the damage this species is doing to ecosystem, the DNR rewards it. Doesn’t make sense.

    • Adam Zuckerman

      Two reasons: 1, they get information on the fish. 2. It encourages people to catch them.

  • Tony Savell

    The fish appears to be a bowfin found throughout the south east, hardly invasive.

    • Daniel Xu

      Hi Tony,

      Thanks for reading. The fish is a northern snakehead, as confirmed by state officials. Snakeheads are generally considered an invasive species.