I should have learned my lesson the last time we threw the canoe into the wind tunnel that goes by the name of Pohick Bay. But, the lure of snakeheads overcame my memory as the Basswife and I launched off the sandy beach on a bright Saturday afternoon. 12 feet out from the shoreline, the Basswife pointed to the right – a 3 foot snakehead cruised silently by. These guys are definitely here!
After that burst of excitement, I began to deal with the reality of the shallow bay. Underwater vegetation was pervasive and constantly clogged my trolling motor. It absolutely refused to go in reverse and I slowly chopped our way forward, assisted by the strong wind blowing in from the east and some paddle power. My logic was simple. Hit the western edge where it would be muddy and populated with lily pads. From what I have read, that is where snakeheads enjoy living. Despite the vegetation, we pushed our way close to the edge of the lilies and it became clear that it was far too shallow. According to the study that one of my readers forwarded to me, these creatures need about 3 feet of water to be comfortable. With that, we poled/pushed and clawed our way out of the vegetation into the main channel marked by a line of bass boats diligently working in the surrounding water. Not wanting to get in their way, we gave wide berth and headed to the small island that had a duck blind in front of it. After watching the eagle perched on top for a few minutes, we began to work the nearby deep water in hopes of catching a random cruising bass or snakehead.
Nothing there either. At this point, I was pretty bugged with the constant push and the high waves (relative to the canoe) that accompanied the wind. To the north, I could see a sheltered bay with calm water. We motored over while continuing to see nothing but underwater vegetation pushing its way to the surface. Finally! We made it to the cove and decided to work our way down the 20 foot perimeter along the shoreline. For some reason, it was clear of vegetation. We could see plenty of sunfish skittering around, but nothing else.
Since we were close to the shoreline, I pointed the canoe so the Basswife could work the border between the edge of the vegetation and the clear mud leading up to the shore in an attempt to coax a fish lying in ambush. I focused my attention on the vegetation towards the center of the cove and worked it using surface plugs. When those did not work, I looked down and changed to another lure and was startled when I looked up to see a large snakehead staring at me 4 feet from the boat! As soon as we made eye contact, it dashed into the surrounding vegetation. With renewed hope that we might catch one of these creatures, we continued down the shore. Nothing.
I turned the canoe around to point it towards the boat launch with the intent of working the channel in the middle of the bay. As we motored up the shoreline, my eyes wandered to check out the surroundings. Specifically, I was looking for a surface action that might indicate snakeheads rising for air or a boil that would be evidence of a cluster of young being protected by their snakehead mom or dad. When my eyes returned to the shoreline, I almost fell out of my seat when I saw another large snakehead, at least 2 feet long, sitting quietly next to a log. We stopped, regrouped and fished that area some more with the same bad luck.
Giving up on the Bay, I headed the canoe back out into the main channel, but concluded that the 1 foot chop churned up by the wind was going to make me seasick in the canoe. After all, there was a reason I joined the Army rather than the Navy! We headed back to the take-out; disappointed that we were skunked, but happy to be aired out on such a pleasant day.
Bottom Line: I am going to move my pursuit of snakeheads elsewhere. The next place I will try is at the head of the Occoquan River near the dam. I’ve been told that area is infested snakeheads and I need to see for myself.
Getting There: The park website has good directions:
“To reach Pohick Bay, take I-95 south of the Beltway, exit at Lorton. Turn left on Lorton Rd. At the 3rd traffic light, turn right onto Lorton Market Street. Follow Lorton Market Street to the first light which will be Rt. 1. Cross over Rt. 1, onto Gunston Rd. Continue 1.5 miles to golf course on the left; 3.5 miles to the main park on the left.”
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in on the Pohick Park website:
Date Fished: 06/16/2012
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Promising shoreline, but all clogged
Big water and waves
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore