By Eddie Bramble, Caz Kenny & Gary Smith, Blackwaters Edge
So you want to catch a Northern Snakehead in February? There are a few rules to remember before you go chasing Dragons this time of year, but the #1 rule is always STAY SAFE! The water temperature in February is well below what you’re used to when targeting Snakeheads and hypothermia is a real threat. Your muscles can start to lose strength as quickly as 10 minutes submerged in 40 degree waters. Bring a change of clothes, bring hand warmers and if possible, make sure you’re fishing with a friend. Also, most states in the Mid-Atlantic region prohibit possession of live Snakeheads. In Maryland, if you are caught with a live Snakehead you could be fined $750 per fish. So, make sure you are properly neutralizing these fish when you decide to harvest.
Now that we’re prepared with the proper knowledge of laws and extra gear to bring, let’s get into targeting Dragons. In the summer, the water is warm, the fish are on top, you’re throwing frogs and everything is great. In February, your topwater lures are rarely successful. The single most effective lure for Snakeheads in colder temperatures is large 3”+ Mummichogs, suspended below a weighted float with the baitholder of your choice anywhere from 8”-24” deep. Look for shallow mud flats adjacent to deeper water where bait will be looking for a warm place to bask and feed. This will attract the wintering Snakeheads from deeper water to feed on the most available bait.
Other winter lures to try are swimbaits, chatterbaits, inline spinners or any other slow-moving, subsurface lure that you prefer. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, a few warm days will really bring these fish to life and could make any lure choice successful. For more info, you can check out Snakeheadlife.com