Snakeheads are an invasive fish species that predominantly inhabits freshwater bodies. As their name suggests, the fish species shares some physical traits with snakes. Distinct features that set snakehead fish apart from snakes include their dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins and truncated tail. Snakeheads are not like ordinary fish because they can breathe atmospheric oxygen. The fish species surfaces intermittently to breathe. That’s why you need unique snakehead lures to catch this unique fish species successfully.
Adult snakehead fish typically feed on crustaceans, bream, beetles, carp, frogs, perch, and catfish. So, catching snakeheads using lures is not a walk in the park. The fish fight incredibly hard and are known to be the most aggressive freshwater fish. Besides, fishing for snakehead fish on light tackle can be arduous since they inhabit aquatic environments with thick vegetation. But the struggle is always worth it because the species is quite a delicacy when cooked.
How to Fish for Snakehead Fish
If you want to fish for snakehead fish, you can employ a raft of techniques. One of the less common methods of catching snakeheads is bowfishing. The technique entails using a special bow and arrow to shoot snakehead fish in shallow waters. The bow ordinarily has a reel, and the arrow is usually barbed to ensure that the snakehead does not escape as you reel it in.
You can also fish snakehead fish using live baits. The technique takes advantage of the fact that snakeheads employ an opportunistic approach in their feeding patterns. The fish cannot let go of an opportunity to bite anything that swims or wiggles in their vicinity.
You should note that the most effective baits for catching snakehead fish range from mummichog minnow to crayfish. Most anglers prefer to use a bobber and submerge their bait roughly three feet below the water surface. The ideal depth for submerging live bait depends on the river depth and the weather. Cold weather often prompts anglers to plunge their bait deeper.
Lastly, you can use artificial lures to catch snakehead fish. Lures work best during the summer and the spring when the weather is warmer. However, cold snaps may minimize the effectiveness of lures in catching snakehead fish.
When using this technique, ensure that your lures are weedless. It is worth noting that a weedless lure allows you to fish in dense spatterdock and ultimately catch snakeheads. If you do not have a weedless lure, you can opt for a crankbait. However, you need to ensure that your crankbait does not get snagged by deploying it on areas with minimal vegetation.
Where to Find Snakehead Fish
If you want to have a successful snakehead fishing expedition, you must know where to find snakeheads. In the US, Snakehead fish originated from Asia and Africa. Anglers identified the first-ever snakeheads in the United States in 2002 in a fishpond in Crofton, Maryland. Two years later, considerable snakehead populations had populated Virginia’s Potomac River.
It is worth noting that the predominant snakehead fish species found in the US include the bullseye snakehead and the northern snakehead. You can find the northern snakehead in many eastern states like Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.
The species inhabits fresh and slightly saline waters. Popular locations where you can find significant northern snakehead populations include the upper reaches of the Potomac River, Dogue Creek, the Rappahannock River, Pomonkey Creek, Aquia Creek, and Occoquan River.
The bullseye snakehead species is predominantly found in Florida. All snakehead species thrive in shallow water with thick vegetation. It is no wonder that the Potomac Basin, which has thick, lush green vegetation, has the highest snakehead population in the country.
Best Artificial Snakehead Lures and Baits for a Successful Catch
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, you need the best lures and baits for a successful snakehead fishing trip. Here are the top five snakehead lures and baits to help you achieve a big catch.
1. Topwater Lures
Topwater lures enjoy high popularity among anglers in Eastern US states. The lures have a weedless design that prevents snagging in the thick spatterdock common in snakehead habitats. The artificial bait also enables you to boost your chances of catching snakeheads, thanks to the considerable distance you can cast it.
Topwater lures are effective because they imitate rodents and frogs in the water. In addition, topwater lures have their needlepoint hooks concealed to avoid spooking snakehead fish. The topwater frog lure has a lifelike design that includes surreal swimming actions, high-resolution coloration, and lifelike three-dimensional eyes. The lure is made of eco-friendly PVC materials which taste like a real frog. The frog’s center of gravity allows it to have an optimal angle sitting to increase the chances of a hookup.
2. Buzz Baits
Using buzz bait increases your chances of success in catching snakehead fish considerably. Buzz baits make it to the top five list of best lures because snakeheads tend to fall for them consistently. Buzz baits come in different configurations, and certain designs are ideal for fishing bass, while others are suitable for catching snakehead fish.
The Strike King buzzbait is particularly effective in catching snakehead fish. The lure’s two-sided blade design creates ripples that attract snakeheads’ attention in shallow waters. The item weighs roughly 1.6 ounces so that it can sink to your desired depth.
More importantly, the lure has a lifelike design that buzzes through the water to create an impression of live bait. It allows you to employ different fishing techniques, including spinning and casting. If you are a sports fishing enthusiast, buzz baits are some of the best lures available on the market.
Soft and hard swimbaits are exceptional lures for catching snakehead fish. It is worth noting that swimbaits are ideal for fishing in open, shallow waters. Swimbaits that resemble banded killifish are very effective in catching snakehead fish. Their effectiveness is attributable to the fact that banded killifish are common snakehead prey.
The Storm Wildeye Swim Bait is highly popular among anglers. The item has almost real swim baits that feature soft, lifelike bodies. Notably, the lure sports a robust soft body with an internal lead head and a bio-salt impregnated tail. The swimbait comes with a pre-rigged body and a holographic swimming foil finish. Its three-dimensional eye stare also gives it a lifelike appearance.
Jigs make it to the top five list because of their unique features and characteristics. When used in areas with high snakehead populations, the artificial lures effectively catch snakehead fish. Jigs achieve optimal results when cast into smaller tributaries with shallow, open water. Shallow waters are ideal because snakeheads can easily spot a jig on the water surface.
The Terminator Pro’s Jig stands out as one of the best jigs available. The item is made of stainless steel material and weighs roughly 10 grams. Its relatively low weight allows it to float on the water surface easily. Notably, you can cast, flip and pitch it on spatterdocks to increase your chances of success.
5. Chatter Baits
Chatter baits are among the top artificial lures for catching snakehead fish because of their high customer ratings. Many anglers openly state that they have caught more snakeheads with chatter baits than other lures. You should note that chatter baits are ideal for luring snakehead fish in open waters. The lures have a rattling blade that causes disturbance in murky waters and attracts the attention of snakehead fish.
The Z-Man Original Chatter Bait is one of the best chatter bait models. The item flashes like a spinnerbait, vibrates like a crankbait, and resembles a jig. The chatter bait also comes with a needlepoint hook that does not allow snakehead fish to escape once they bite it. The lure does not hydroplane when you retrieve your fish swiftly.
Best Natural Lures for Snakehead Fish
You can use natural lures if your state’s regulations allow you to do so. Here are some natural lures that are highly effective in catching snakehead fish.
If you plan on fishing snakeheads in any of the eastern and southern states with considerable snakehead populations, you should consider using frogs as live bait. You can easily catch frogs that inhabit the spatterdocks of the Potomac River. Frogs are also effective in luring snakeheads because they are common snakehead prey.
2. Fathead Minnows
Fathead minnows, also known as golden shiners, are excellent natural lures for snakehead fish. The tiny fish tends to swim frantically and prompt the reaction of snakehead fish. You need to hook them on the back and cast them in snakehead-infested waters.
3. Banded Killifish
Banded killifish make up snakehead’s most common prey in the natural environment. Notably, this makes banded killifish an excellent natural lure for catching snakehead fish. You can use minnow traps to catch them and hook them just like the fathead minnows.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced snakehead angler, you need the right snakehead lure to achieve optimal results. You also need to know where to find considerable snakehead populations. It is worth noting that artificial baits and lures are as effective as natural lures. Nevertheless, you have to do extra work to catch natural lures in their natural habitat.