Northern Snakehead Fish

The northern snakehead is an invasive species of fish that has become established in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Snakeheads were first discovered in a Maryland pond in 2002.

In 2004, the species was found in the Potomac River. Northern snakeheads quickly established populations in the Potomac watershed from Great Falls to the river mouth, including many of the river’s tributaries.

Over time, the range of northern snakeheads has expanded to a number of rivers in Maryland and Virginia.

Snakeheads have been reported in numerous watersheds of the upper bay including the lower Susquehanna, Bird, Rhode, Gunpowder, and others.

On the Eastern Shore of Maryland, snakehead populations are established in the Nanticoke, Blackwater, and Wicomico rivers.

The northern snakehead can be identified by noting their slender body shape, rounded tail, snake shaped head, brown coloration, markings, and other features.

Snakeheads are frequently caught by fishermen. They readily take baits and artificial lures. They are also harvested by bowfishing and other alternative fishing techniques.

Maryland, Virginia, and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission all prohibit the possession of live northern snakeheads. Federal law prohibits the transport of live snakeheads into the U.S. or across State lines.