Can You Eat Snakehead Fish in Florida?

Many people often ask, can you eat snakehead fish in Florida? The answer is a resounding YES; snakehead fish is good to eat! Snakeheads have gained popularity in the fresh waters of Florida, and catching one for a tasty meal doesn’t sound like a bad idea. 

Snakehead fish is good to eat as it’s a valuable source of proteins. Besides serving as a good protein source, snakeheads provide essential vitamins for your body. All you need is the right recipe to make a tasty, delicious meal. But, before sitting in front of your dining table to enjoy your meal, here are some things you should first know about snakehead fish.

Why the Name Snakehead Fish?

The northern snakehead fish is regarded as an invasive aquatic animal in the United States. Snakeheads obtained their unique name due to their extended, cylindrical body shape and the bigger scales covering all around their head, giving them a snake look.

The northern snakehead has a narrow body with long anal and dorsal fins. These fish commonly have a big mouth, and their jaw appears to protrude outside and is filled with canine teeth. Snakeheads can have different sizes based on their habitats but grow to approximately 4 feet long.

Where to Catch Snakehead Fish

The Northern snakeheads are majorly spotted in Florida. You can catch snakeheads in various freshwater bodies in the New York Garden. There are two ponds located out of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, a pond located in Massachusetts, and water reservoirs around Northern Carolina and California. During 2008, northern snakeheads were majorly caught in drainage canals of Arkansas. There is a belief that flooding of snakeheads in these drainage canals permitted the population growth and spread of northern snakeheads in the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers. 

Also, it is right to say that other farmers introduced snakeheads into the freshwater bodies for food. Thus, typical pet owners could have introduced snakeheads into the waters, leaving them to grow into big fish. You can also find snakeheads in ponds and canals with fresh water. Their unique breathing characteristic enables them to survive on land for several days without dying.

How Snakeheads Adapt to the Environment

Snakeheads have existed for an extended period now and are certainly known for their aggressive nature once they get mature. As they grow up, snakeheads can swim offshore to slight distances over dry land. Their perfect breathing system supports life for up to 3 days before returning to the water. Snakeheads may feed on frogs, small reptiles, other smaller fish species, and birds.

Snakeheads love to live in places that have dense aquatic vegetation. The densely vegetative populated areas provide snakeheads with a suitable zone for spawning. Snakeheads’ skin helps them camouflage their body while in dense aquatic vegetation. It helps them survive and protects them from predators.

Snakehead fish mature sexually as early as they rich 2 or 3 years. At this time, snakeheads can spawn various times each year and in various water temperatures. Adult snakeheads watch over their eggs until they hatch and protect their young ones as they grow. Surprisingly, both males and females play a role in raising their young ones.

How to Catch Snakehead Fish

Snakehead fish have a large, ugly, cylindrical body, and catching them needs heavy equipment. You require a hefty and stiff fishing rod to perform the job. You can use either baits or lures to catch snakeheads. Keep in mind that lures give the best catch during summer seasons while baits are most efficient during winter seasons. But it can vary a little due to changing weather conditions during fall or spring. Fortunately, you can find great snakehead fishing lures and snakehead fishing baits available for sale online.

Can You Eat Snakehead Fish in Florida?

Back to the question, is snakehead fish good to eat? Yes, the northern snakehead is edible! Indeed, it is delicious. Snakehead fish meat appears hardened, white, and flaky. Just like other fish species, snakehead fish from Florida is a valuable source of proteins, fats, and vitamins to your body. Generally, you can cook snakeheads in various ways. If you want to prepare the tastiest snakehead fried fish, our best recipe can assist you.

Crispy snakehead fish fry
Crispy snakehead fish fry

How Does Snakehead Fish from Florida Taste?

When talking about eating snakehead fish, you’re likely to consider two things: texture and taste. Some people dislike the fishy taste. However, you can manage the taste by using different sauces and spices when preparing your snakehead. But if you want a fishy taste, consider using a little flavor in your recipe to give your snakehead fish a fishier taste, all without getting overwhelming. 

The second thing to take into account is the texture of your snakehead. Fish meat usually has a wide range of textures. You can get a very flaky and soft snakehead fish meat. But if you overcook, the texture can become mushy. You don’t want your snakehead to have a mushy texture!

Managing the Tough Texture

A tough snakehead fish can be challenging to chew, but your snakehead can become hard only if it gets overcooked or if you are cooking an overly giant snakehead. Most people prefer a well-balanced textured snakehead fish. In fact, snakehead fillets that are firm and flaky are usually a headbutt with dinners.

So, where does a snakehead fish fit into this picture? Well, here is some excellent news for you. Snakehead fish has a mild to non-fishy taste. But, the nature of the water where you catch your snakehead matters a lot. If you catch your snakehead from a freshwater source, consider a great treat at the dining table.

Overall, snakehead fish meat is exceptionally convenient, and you can prepare it in various ways that you love. Its texture is firm and flaky. As for its taste, snakehead fish typically has a moderate to non-fishy taste!

What Are the Health Threats of Eating Snakehead Fish?

Even though you can eat snakehead fish, you require a good comprehension of its source. Snakeheads typically have a higher fat and muscle content than tuna fish and salmon fish. The snakehead’s higher fat and muscle contents make them tough during most cooking scenarios.

As much as eating snakehead fish is excellent and delicious, it also can have adverse health effects on your body. For instance, the high muscle content present in snakehead fish, just like tuna fish, contains high levels of mercury. Therefore, rampant eating of snakehead fish can accumulate significant traces of mercury in your body.

Of course, high levels of mercury are toxic to your body. You’ll want to indulge in snakefish delicacies in moderation to avoid the adverse effects of mercury. Also, snakehead fish have a particular chemical known as polychlorinated biphenyls. Abbreviated as (PCBs), polychlorinated biphenyls can cause skin inflammations. Besides, extreme consumption of PCBs can also cause liver damage.

PBCs are usually located under the skin of snakehead fish and in their fat. But this should not discourage you from eating snakehead fish. You can easily remove the PBCs from your snakehead fish by skinning them completely. When skinning your snakehead fish, ensure you’re keen enough and don’t rush!

You’ll also want to take out a more considerable fat portion from your snakehead fish. Fats exist in high concentration at the belly of the snakehead. You might consider chopping off some of the snakehead’s fat during your preparation. It is more of an advantage for you if you use the right non-sticking frying pan to fry your snakehead, for it helps eliminate fat leftovers.

Pan-fried snakehead fish
Pan-fried snakehead fish

Legal Issues Concerning Eating Snakehead Fish

It is also crucial to know the legal issues if you want to eat snakehead fish. Every day, snakehead species are multiplying unexpectedly, which implies that they are turning into even threatening species to the North American water bodies. As a result, legislatures are establishing laws in most zones inhabited by snakehead fish. 

The North American law has illegalized returning a snakehead fish into the water after you catch one. It clarifies that you should always kill the snakehead fish once you catch one. In most cases, lawbreakers who are ignorant of the law face fines.

But now that you have a clear understanding of how eating snakehead fish is good for your health, you might find it easier to obey the law. If you’re not sure about the laws and regulations about fishing in your municipal, don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel.

Wrap Up

Snakeheads are exciting and significant fish creatures. But, Florida is not just a suitable habitat for them. If you find out that snakehead fish have infested a pond, stream, or canal near your vicinity, make sure you catch them and make great meals out of them. Besides, you have no limit to fishing snakeheads. However, you have to be careful while preparing to get the best taste out of your snakehead fish. 

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