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How To Catch Snakehead Fish: The Ultimate Guide

How To Catch Snakehead Fish: The Ultimate Guide

We can all agree that there aren't much techniques or tips for catching snakeheads out there.

It's hard to get another angler to share his secrets.

You found the right guide...

If you want to feel the power of a snake at the end of your line. This guide will help you learn how to find, hook and catch snakehead fish. Over time this fishing guide will continuously be updated with new techniques and spots.

Let’s jump right in...

Tackle & Gear Required 

Don't show up with your light tackle bass setup. Spool heavy line, on a heavy rod, with a stiff tip. You will not be able to set the hook if your rod tip has too much give. Snakeheads have hard, bony heads and you need to set the hook with a lot of force. Keep pliers handy for dehooking.

Spotting Snakeheads When Bank Fishing

Don't stomp up to the bank and cast...

Scouting For Snakeheads

When fishing for snakes pay close attention to the banks and shallow flats. Polarized sunglasses will help spot them from a distance. They spook easily don’t stomp up to the bank and cast. Snake heads like to chill on the shoulders of the bank with heavy cover and deep vegetation with a muddy bottom. Also, look for structure and shade they are ambush predators. Snakehead fish do not school once you have caught one keep on moving further along the bank. Don't stick around at the same spot. That will most likely just produce largemouth bass strikes. Cast and reel parallel to the bank to stay in the strike zone.

Snakeheads Lurking On Shallow Banks

Every angler that enjoys a drag-pulling acrobatic fish should fish for snakeheads. Be careful when landing and unhooking them especially if fishing with kids. Do not lip a snakehead or use your fingers to de-hook them. They have razor sharp teeth and will shred your fingers.

Let's get down to locations:

How To Catch Snakeheads In South Florida

Broward County holds the highest population of snakeheads in South Florida. The C-14 Canal can be considered home-base for snakehead fishing. Markham Park is a great starting point for easy public access. The Hillsboro Canal also holds a large population of snakeheads. The best place to start looking inside these water systems are the spur canals or in dense vegetation/structure on the main canals.

How To Catch Snakeheads In The Potomac

The Potomac River from Washington to the Bay is home base for Northern Snakehead fishing. All the creeks, coves, and marshes are good starting points. Other landmark starting points are Potomac Creek, Leesylvania State Park, Chickamuxen Creek & Fort Belvoir. Scope out water bodies that feed into the river and have little to no current.

You're probably wondering:

Where They Came From & Why Fish Them

Snakeheads are native to Africa and Asia. There are 29 species of the fish family, Channidae, and they all differ significantly in size and coloration. There are two established species in the US, the Northern Snakehead and the Bullseye Snakehead. Potomac River and neighboring areas hold the main population of Northern Snakehead. The canal systems of Broward County, FL are home to the Bullseye Snakehead. More info on the snakehead species.

The truth is:

Pound for pound, Snakeheads are one of the toughest fighting freshwater fish. The are very aggressive and when they strike a topwater lure it is explosive. Fishing for snakeheads can be extremely challenging on light-tackle because many times they are in thick vegetation and can break you off easily. They are an invasive species, and wildlife authorities recommend killing your catch. Releasing snakeheads back into the same body of water is not illegal in most states.

Top water lures are most effective when fishing for snakeheads.

Kikker Rubber Frog
The toughest soft plastic you could throw. Great for when you need to get your bait it the strike zone a little deeper with a frog profile. check out the pre-rigged rubber frog

TNT 6.5
Larger bait for further casting can be fished like a popper. check out the largest jumpfrog

ERF Jump Frog
Internal rattles and tight dribble produces great vibrations to get them going. check out the rattle fog

ET Camo Scumfrog
For heavily matted and deep vegetation, this lure can be twitched over pretty much anything and not get snagged. check out the scum frog

EJF Jump Frog Peacock Series
Tight dribble and splashes with a peacock bass pattern. check out the peacock pattern

EJF Micro Jump Frog
Never underestimate a small bait. Match the hatch during the fry months. check out the smallest jumpfrog 

Hammerhead Jump Frog Your go to weedless jumpfrog. check out the hammerhead jumpfrog 

Killer Blade Killer Blade Spinner Bait
Great scouting bait with a wire frame twice as thick as your average spinner bait. check out the toughest spinner bait ever created

Extreme Buzzbait 2
Great for scouting and covering lots of water stays on the surface when reeling. check out the most extreme buzzbait

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  • Alginon

    The part about not using light tackle is debatable. I have personally caught 5 snakehead and 2 giant snakehead using 20 pound braided line and a pretty light rod. It’s just about knowing how to set in these fish.

  • Carlos

    What about the line? I’ve seen some comments saying that braided is the way and that Snakeheads are too smart for nylon and can spot it from miles away. What line would you recommend? (please be specific if possible). As usual much obliged!

  • david netting

    I live in Charlottesville, VA and looking to know where I can find these fish in my area. I’ve never caught one but and very eager too. I’m also a volunteer with my states DGIF and would like to help with this situation.

  • Stanley Watkins

    Have heard differing advice on when to fish for Snakeheads in the rivers of the Eastern Shore. Answers to these questions will be most helpful.
    Time of year – is there fishing in the Fall
    After a heavy rain
    Time of day
    Water temp

  • Carmine Nicosia

    Most exciting fresh
    water topwater gamefish you’ll ever fish for.Better eating that Walleyes. Hope they start to stock them everywhere. Once you catch one you’ll be hooked for life. They are now the most popular gamefish wherever they are caught.

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