An unwelcome intruder was discovered by refuge and U.S. Geological
Survey biologistswhile taking fishsamples from Belknap lake(just south of Hwy 1) last week.
non nativeinvasive species of fishthat breathes air, walks on land, has a scale pattern thatresembles that of a diamondback rattlesnake, and a sports a wickedly ferocious set of “ canine like” teeth that enable it to attack and eat everythingin its sight. It's a top level predator with a reputation so hideous some fisherman referto it as"Frankenfish". Refuge biologists like Jay Hitchcock know it as the Northern Snakehead fish. By whatever name, if left unchecked, our sportfishing might be impacted througheither direct predation on our crappie, bass and bream and/ or throughindirect competition for their food.
Here’s how you can help.
1. Learn to identify Northern Snakehead fish. At first
glancethey have the appearance of our native Bowfin( grinnel) but the long, 20 plus rays of the anal fin isthe DEAD GIVEAWAY. Bowfin haveonly 9-10. See graphic below.
areasked to kill anyNorthern Snakehead fish they catch and/ or to the refuge office by calling 870-282-8200. (Note: Snakeheads can live a day or two out of water report sightings so throwing them out onto the bank won't do it. Remember they have the potential to crawl back into the lake.)