An Invasive Fish for Your Dinner Table

by Paul Daigle

What's a Bullseye Snakehead?

The bullseye snakehead is an invasive fish in Florida; it's native to south and southeast Asia. Some people believe that this fish provides wound healing and other recuperative benefits when eaten. In my opinion, the white flakey meat is unmatched in fresh water. This fish can be grilled, fried, or stewed. I use a Cajun spice and grill - it makes for great eating.

Where Can You Find It?

The epicenter of its range is the Margate / Coral Springs / Coconut Creek/ Pompano area; it can be caught as far north as southwestern Palm Beach County. It inhabits canals, lakes, and ponds, and it's tolerant of stagnant water due to air-breathing capabilities.

This fish is capable of migrating up to 1/4 mile over land by wriggling its body and fins.

Natural features to look for when fishing for the snakehead include overhanging and submerged vegetation as well as culverts.

What Gear Should You Use?

Use a stout rod - med/heavy to heavy so it can be pulled out of heavy vegetation. For line, use 50 to 65lb braid; some anglers will also use a mono leader of at least 30lbs. Snakeheads love top water frogs but can be caught with spinnerbaits, paddle tailed swimbaits, craw jigs, jerkbaits, and live bait fish. 

For a local Florida bait company, try the Razor Baits Okeechobee Toad.  Or JD's Custom Baits.

How Do You Catch One?

Cast parallel to shore staying within two to three feet from the bank. Use a fast retrieve. Or cast to the bank on the other side and slow roll it off the weeds.

Although FWC recommends them not to be released, it is legal to release them in the same waters they are caught in. I don't like to kill a fish just to kill it - they have been here for 16 years and put up one of the best fights in freshwater, so hold on and enjoy. And like I mentioned above, they are also delicious.

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