- The Washington Times - Friday, June 10, 2005

Add the ability to avoid getting hooked to the list of skills for the voracious, swimming-walking northern snakehead.

For the second consecutive year, nobody caught one at the annual Snakehead Fish Roundup at the Columbia Island Marina on the Potomac River.

Still, participants yesterday said the event was a success in educating the public about invasive species and spreading the message that the only good snakehead is a dead snakehead.

?There’s thousands of fishermen out here and most don’t know what [snakeheads] look like or what to do if they catch one — kill it,? said Crofton, Md., resident Taylor Hale, a satellite engineer.

Anna Cherry of the National Invasive Species Council agreed. ?You don’t want it to stay alive,? she said. ?It doesn’t belong here.?

The council and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service backed the event.

The northern snakehead — dubbed Frankenfish due to its razor-sharp teeth and ability to use its fins like legs to walk on land — invaded the region’s waterways three years ago and has since established a threatening presence in the Potomac.

Officials suspect the region’s snakeheads were pets dumped into the water by their owners.

The snakehead reappeared in the region last year with 20 caught in the Potomac. This year at least 13 have been found.

Though nobody landed a snakehead to claim the $50 prize supplied yesterday by event co-sponsor Pro Bass Shops Outdoor World, the retailer still has a bounty of between $10 and $50 on the snakehead.

The fish, whose wide-set eyes make it look like a snake, was first discovered in the region in 2002 in a Crofton pond. Crews poisoned the pond and removed six dead adult snakeheads and about 1,000 dead immature snakeheads.

The fish comes from China and the Korean Peninsula and has been imported illegally from Japan as food and for aquariums.

The Asian delicacy, however, does not agree with tournament angler Clifford Magnus, 45, who holds the Potomac record for reeling in a 241/2-inch snakehead but didn’t catch one in yesterday’s hunt.

?They are incredibly slimy, more slimy than catfish,? he said. ?And fish that walk on land are not high on my diet list.?

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