A creepy-looking invasive species from outside North America that is illegal in the U.S. turned up in a lake outside Boston recently, where Massachusetts angler Mike Powell happened to haul it in.
The fish, a sharp-fanged northern snakehead, or “frankenfish,” is native to Asia. The species are voracious predators that eat other fish, crustaceans, frogs, small reptiles, and even birds and small mammals, the New York Post reports.
Powell was fishing in the Canton Reservoir last weekend when he landed the 6-pound, 30-inch monstrosity. The large black fish had beady black eyes, sharp fangs, and a body covered in slippery slime.
“Me and my buddy, we didn’t even know what it was at first,” Powell told local news station WCVB.
Massachusetts Angler’s Heart Rate Shot Up
As he reeled in the fanged fish, Powell knew he had caught something more dangerous than the bass he was looking for.
“Let’s be honest, I’m out here chasing big bass,” he told WCVB. “To catch that when I’m not looking for it – I mean, I was wearing one of these things that tells you your heart rate. Thing was going through the roof.”
Todd Richards of MassWildlife confirmed for the news station that the fish was a snakehead. He said its size, color pattern, fin placement, and head shape all check out. Most likely, he added, it was dumped into the reservoir after it grew too big for someone’s fish tank, where it was illegally raised.
“They are an injurious species, so you can’t possess them,” Richards said. “MassWildlife regulates the possession of the fish that can live in our waters, and we don’t issue permits for snakeheads. I fished this lake my entire life and when I saw that I was like this doesn’t belong here.”
How to Deal With the Invasive Species
Richards said there are very few fish species out there that could be mistaken for snakeheads. They are a distinctive, and dangerous, species.
Powell’s catch is one of four documented snakehead finds in Massachusetts waters since 2002. And wildlife officials say they’d like that to be the last of them.
“The good news is these are all adult fish,” Richards added. “We have no evidence of reproduction, which would be a different ball game.”
Anyone who catches a suspected snakehead is advised to bring it ashore, kill it and reach out to MassWildlife, if in Massachusetts, or the local environmental authorities.