A typical fishing trip turned into an adventure when a local caught a rare invasive fish in the canton’s reservoir.
It was a scorching Friday when Michael Powell and Eddie Caraminas went perch fishing. There was good fishing activity and around 4pm Powell got a bite near Pequit Brook, but it wasn’t perch.
“I’ve been fishing my whole life so I knew what to do and knew it wasn’t a fish that belonged to this area,” he told Boston.com. “As soon as I got it on the boat, I said, ‘Holy shit, this is a snakehead fish’.”
The snakehead was five pounds and 30 inches long. Powell believed he caught a brown snakehead fish that has not yet been identified in the U.S., but MassWildlife told Boston.com that it was most likely a northern snakehead. Only four northern snakeheads have been caught in Massachusetts since 2002, although they have always been adult fish and there is no evidence of reproduction.
Snakeheads originate from East Asia and were first discovered in the USA in Maryland in 2002. according to the US Department of Agriculture, most likely introduced through fish markets and illegal aquarium releases. They are a predatory species and are considered invasive. Snakeheads can also breathe air, survive for days without water, slumber in the mud during droughts, and travel ashore by “wobbling” their bodies. according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Powell had to spend an entire night with the fish before handing it over to the state. He called environmental police on Friday who asked him to keep it alive, but they couldn’t find out until Saturday morning.
“I don’t really have an aquarium to stick it in, so I dragged one of my buddy’s boats ashore and filled it with water, and we put it in there,” Powell said. “I put some plywood over it, cinder blocks to make sure it doesn’t come out because they have been known to come out of aquariums and crawl around.”
Powell said he had fished in Reservoir Pond his entire life and fished with his signature mouse bait when he caught the snakehead.
“Did you see the teeth on that thing? Try to catch it – I didn’t know what to do with it either, and I’ve fished all my life, ”he said. “We had it out of the water for two hours while I was trying to figure out what to put in, and as soon as we put it in the water it let out a huge gulp of air and started breathing through its gills again. I said that’s it … I don’t want to see it anymore. It does things that fish shouldn’t do. “
Powell said he had been “to the bottom of YouTube and back” with regard to fishing videos, so he was familiar with the species and knew he had to call authorities immediately.
Todd Richards, Assistant Director of Fisheries for MassWildlife, told Boston.com that anglers who believe they have caught a snakehead or other invasive species should notify MassWildlife immediately. Typically, anglers should keep the fish, kill it, and call 1-800-632-8075 and, if possible, send pictures in case they have caught a similar-looking, non-invasive fish like the bow fin fish.
“The euthanized fish will be examined at a later date and used for educational purposes,” said Richards. “Canton city officials, anglers and lake dwellers are asked to keep an eye out for other snakeheads in the pond and to contact MassWildlife if additional fish are found. Although MassWildlife is able to conduct a survey to look for more people, it is currently not justified. “
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