A record Snakehead for Todd Murphy as many find ’em better to eat than Rockfish

A big Snakehead at Buzz's Marina.

A big Snakehead at Buzz’s Marina.

A record Snakehead for Todd Murphy

Snakehead record caught by Todd Murphy at Marbury

Snakehead record caught by Todd Murphy at Marbury

MARBURY, MD. — Fishing for the much ballyhooed Snakehead Fish has become quite a hot new way of catching a fish that many believe tastes better than Rockfish and has fan-financial appetite among seafood houses and Asian markets. While Cap’n Larry Jarboe and Catfish Bill Davis have been pulling in many snakehead fish in Charles County backwaters off of the Potomac River, anglers from the Eastern Shore have been landing them from fresh water ponds and the upper reaches of the Choptank.

Taylor Mooney with Snakehead

Taylor Mooney with Snakehead

Since the DNR has no limitations on sizes or number of catches and in fact encourages anglers to hunt snakefish and kill them, due to being an invasive species, many more are being caught.

Todd Murphy of Marbury caught a state record, 17.47-pound northern snakehead while fishing with bow and arrow on Mattawoman Creek in the early hours of August 8, beating the previous record of 16.94 pounds set by Teddy McKenzie in 2014.

“I went out on the high tide expecting to find catfish up in the flooded grass,” said Murphy. “I was surprised to find snakeheads instead, and ended up with seven of them and not a single catfish.”

Snakehead caught in ponds in Wicomico and Queen Anne's Counties

Snakehead caught in ponds in Wicomico and Queen Anne’s Counties

Murphy bagged the record just before 2:30 a.m.

Murphy works until 11 p.m. as a high-voltage technician. He likes to go straight from work to the creek to hunt for blue catfish and snakeheads from his custom Jon boat rigged with an array of bright LED lights aimed at the water. With his schedule, he most often bowfishes alone.

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

Although world and state fishing records are normally awarded only for fish caught by rod and reel, there are exceptions in Maryland for its three main invasive fish species: northern snakehead, blue catfish and flathead catfish.

These species may be caught by any legal recreational harvest method and subsequently considered for state record recognition.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources includes an Invasive Species Award category in its annual Maryland Fishing Challenge, a year-long promotion of the state’s excellent fishing opportunities, including more than 60 game fish species

Snakehead full length caught by Taylor Mooney

Snakehead full length caught by Taylor Mooney

from the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay, to the Potomac River and Western mountain streams. Anglers who register exceptional catches of Angler Award-eligible size will receive an award certificate and invitation to the challenge’s finale at the Maryland Seafood Festival in September. There, they will have chances to win prizes such as a Tracker Marine boat package from Bass Pro Shops, Costa sunglasses and gear, fishing tackle from Bills Outdoor Center and cash.

As for the state record snakehead, Murphy says, “I’m taking it up to Chef Chad Wells at Alewife in Baltimore, and he’s going to cook us a special dinner.”

Cap'n Larry Jarboe's Jon boat rigged for night fishing

Cap’n Larry Jarboe’s Jon boat rigged for night fishing

DNR maintains records for sport fish in three divisions—Atlantic, Chesapeake and freshwater—and awards plaques to anglers who achieve new record catches. To report a potential record catch, call 443-569-1381 or 410-260-8325.

Anglers should keep their fish immersed in ice water to preserve its weight until it can be weighed at a seafood retailer, a grocery store, or tackle shop with a certified scale. All International Game Fish Association rules for records and Maryland fishing regulations apply.

Fish caught from privately-owned, fee-fishing waters are not eligible for record consideration.   The Maryland State Record application and a list of records are on the DNR Fisheries website.

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