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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

Previous article Fishing Topwater Frog Lures
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Carmine Nicosia - August 4, 2020

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.

Harold Holt - August 4, 2020

Matthew Rura,
I believe that there is an Asian market for them as it’s suspected by law enforcement that this nasty fish was introduced by an entrepreneur trying to create a local source in Florida rather than purchasing them from foreign markets. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that in eastern medicine it’s a traditional meal to have after a medical operation as it’s believed to restore your strength or something along those lines.

Mike - August 4, 2020

I caught my first one last week on the Port Deposit fishing Pier. It hit an inline spinnerbait that I dressed with night crawler. This fish had more ‘row’ or eggs in it than any I’ve ever seen. The fish and it’s row were dinner that evening!

Craig - August 4, 2020

I was hoping the SH would not find there way up the bay to North Point Creek, Baltimore County. But they are here and I’ve seen them. The ones I’ve seen hang around the edges of the grass and undercover of the trees . 12” to 15” in length they seem to be loners and don’t school like are strippers. Gigging them from a clear bank would be possible. They are here with the grass, I hope they don’t decimate our local inhabitants!

Vonkonrad - August 4, 2020

Study’s have shown that the SnakeHead is not truly causing any shortage to other fish as once believed. Although keeping the population in check will help keep things at a normal level. Killing them off is not necessary.

Nick Capelo - August 4, 2020

The best tidal freshwater fish I have ever fished for. Wish we had more of them.

Crichton Adams - April 23, 2019

Ever thought of snakehead at Blackwater preserve, Dorchester County, Maryland?

Robb Mowery - April 23, 2019

Thanks for the lure selection section, but I have caught 15 snakehead in areas off of the Patuxent River (Mill Creek to be exact) and have had zero luck on top water baits (nor has anybody else fishing for them around me). I suppose its because there is not a lot of grass, or lilies, or other cover,; but I have caught all of mine on lures that I can throw at the far back, retrieve slowly and keep a few inches below the surface. The Rapala Original Jointed Minnow has worked well and so have chatter baits. Everything else you spoke of here, I have found to be true.

Thanks for putting this blog sight together.

Matthew Rura - April 23, 2019

I feel a true calling as a responsible, dedicated angler to fish these bastards into extinction. We must lobby federal disaster money to pay enough fishermen bounty on this nemesis, before it’s too late for our native bass and walleye populations. Can we develop a commercial market for this fish? Would the cat food producers be interested in this fish?

Michael Conchado - April 23, 2019

I just learned about the snake head , and I have also not yet fished for them , but to answer your question , on where you could catch them? there’s a wildlife refugee place off of Linburg Boulevard 8601 to be exact . John Hienz Park. They actually have a snake head tournament coming up . 5-17-2018…… Hope I could help

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