Northern Snakehead, or… Nanjemoy Sea Bass

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Northern Snakehead
Image courtesy USGS

In the summer of 2002, an invasion of Maryland was underway. However this time, it was not a foreign military but an invasive species of fish. The Northern Snakehead had established its population throughout Maryland and northern Virginia.

The Asia native snakehead was first identified in Maryland in the pond behind Crofton Post Office off of Rt. 3. With limited natural predators in the area the population of snakehead flourished. The very aggressive fish feeds on other fish, frogs, crustaceans, birds and sometimes small mammals. They can reproduce very quickly and have the ability to upset the balance of the local ecosystem. Snakeheads are a freshwater fish and have a very low tolerance for saltwater. This is thought to be the reason their population spread has been relatively contained.

Snakeheads are able survive out of water for several days, aiding their ability to spread into new lakes, ponds, and streams. They cannot “walk” but they can wriggle over land for extended periods of time.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the US Fish and Wildlife Service advise anglers to kill the fish upon capture.

Charles County is allowing residents to vote to rename the snake head to either: Chesapeake Bay Channa Fish, Asian River Fish, or Spotted Channa. We at Southern Maryland Fly Fishing like the name “Nanjemoy Sea Bass”.

If you would like to cast a vote for a new name for the snakehead, check out the page on the Charles County website (

If you catch a snakehead, kill it. I hear they are very tasty.