Imagine how many native fish this 21-pound invasive northern snakehead has gobbled over its lifetime. Angler Damien Cook removed this monster predator from Maryland waters on July 5, and in doing so set a new state record for the species. The fish also outweighs the current IGFA all-tackle world record of 19 pounds, 5 ounces, which was caught from Potomac Creek, Virginia in 2018.
Cook was fishing a Dorchester County river with a custom bladed jig on 30-pound-test braid when the 36-inch-long snakehead bit.
“Honestly I thought it was just your average 30-inch snakehead when I first hooked the fish,” Cook said. “It pulled hard, but I had the advantage of it being close and I got it in the net pretty quickly.”
Cook’s catch beat out the previous state record of 19.9 pounds, which was set by Andrew Fox in 2018. Fox arrowed his big snakehead while bowfishing.
The northern snakehead is an invasive species now common throughout Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay tidal waters. Snakeheads have become popular for sportfishing in Maryland because they fight hard and strike traditional artificial lures that are often used for largemouth bass. Dorchester County’s tidal river system is among the state’s hotspots for snakeheads.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources encourages anglers to kill any snakeheads they catch and reminds anglers that it is illegal to transport live snakeheads.
For more information, check out dnr.maryland.gov