Cap’n Larry Jarboe: The Asian Invasion

Bow fishing from the bow for skates and snakeheads.  THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

Bow fishing from the bow for skates and snakeheads. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

For the past couple weeks, I have been preparing my boat to defend our Country against alien invaders from Asia who have infested our creeks and rivers. Most of us are unaware of the huge threat to our native resources that these monsters represent.

With two rows of sharp teeth and the ability to live underwater and for long periods on land, these air breathing fish are totally unlike anything that prowls beneath the surface in our waters. In their own habitat in the Far East, these fish have actually killed divers who pursue them with spear guns. Jeremy Wade, producer and lead actor of the River Monster series, documented the case of an Asian spear fisherman who shot one of these large predators. The animal with a spear protruding from its head charged the unfortunate free diver in murky water. The momentum of this monster pushed the back side of the spear shaft through the divers mask’s glass face plate, through his eyeball, through his brain, and out the back of his skull. Are you getting scared yet?

I spoke first hand to a woman last year who was attacked in this Country. At the Mallows Bay boat ramp in Charles County, a young lady with an inflatable kayak described how a large fish rammed the bottom of her inflated lightweight boat transmitting a very powerful bump into her bottom as well. Fortunately, with the amount of cushioning provided by air pressure and her ample posterior, she escaped unscathed.

What kind of creature is capable of such animosity?

The Northern Snakehead fish is growing to huge proportions in the Chesapeake Watershed. Potomac River creeks in Maryland and Virginia from Port Tobacco River all the way to Washington DC are providing prime habitat for these aquatic creatures that can grow to be twenty pounds or more.

Hook and line fishermen are a major line of defense against the Asian invasion. Noisy top water lures and plastic frogs are good artificial baits. Chatterbaits and large spinners are good subsurface lures. Unfortunately, these inscrutable predators are both adaptable and smart. With each generation, they are learning to more greatly differentiate between a fisherman’s offering and real prey which might include fish, frogs, small turtles, baby ducks, young muskrats, and even your little dog that might be cooling off in the creek.

Probably the most effective way to kill large numbers of these invasive snakeheads is to fish with bow and arrow at night.

A growing number of dedicated Mid-Atlantic anglers are decking out their boats with raised decks and numerous lighting arrangements to illuminate and penetrate the surface of the water to expose snakeheads below. This is not an inexpensive project to undertake. From scratch, purchasing a new boat and outfitting it for bowfishing at night might easily cost ten grand or more.

However, a used boat can be converted for less. And, it hurts far less to drill and cut through the aluminum or fiberglass of an old vessel that is being resurrected to

A couple months ago, on my way to 3J’s Archery on Morganza Turner Road, I spotted a nice looking used 16’ aluminum Smoker Craft for sale on a trailer along Rt. 5 in Mechanicsville. The high freeboard and low cost of this particular boat sold me on it. Though it is a fine fishing boat as it is and Catfish Bill Davis of Great Mills will testify, there are some modifications that are being undertaken to prowl in the darkness:

The bow of the Smoker Craft has been modified to accommodate a 24 volt saltwater Minnkota electric trolling motor. A battery box made of fiberglass and an old cooler is surrounded by Styrofoam wrapped in plastic and bolted beneath the framework of the tongue and groove strip plank deck that occupies the bow of the boat.

I just finished installing an overhead frame of a recycled Bimini top and stainless rail from an ancient project to hold 12 volt high intensity LED lights to light the night. High wattage halogen or High Pressure Sodium lights are planned under the bow powered by a small genset in a vibration dampening box to push light below the water’s surface.

At least, that’s the plan for now.

Each month in the CHESAPEAKE TODAY, I hope to give you an update on the progress of the boat and the equipment needed to harvest these vicious and delicious alien invaders from Asia

It’s a tough job, but …

Larry Jarboe – bass21292@yahoo.com

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