Patrick, one of this blog’s readers, was kind enough to send me a link to a major study on the northern snakehead (click here to read). This document has great information that will certainly help me in my pursuit of the species this year.
One of the first things to note is that this fish does not move into shallow water until April. Well, I ignored that in my eagerness to start looking for these fish and headed down the Quantico to see if I could walk the bank of Chopawamsic Creek, fish from shore and determine where these guys hang out. My first instinct was to follow the path leading west from the parking area since it generally parallels the creek. My plan was to move along the path and then cut south to intersect the creek away from the launch. As you can see, I did not get very far. Once off the path, I was into knee-deep muck that gripped the bottom of my wading boots to the extent that I became concerned I would sink and be stuck. Discretion being the better part of valor and not wanting to suffer the embarrassment of having beefy Marines pull me from the mud, I retreated to the path and, once across a small bridge, I veered south using the firm ground next to a diminutive feeder creek to reach the bank about 200 yards upstream of the launch point.
It was a little easier walking on the bank, using the dense grass to support my weight, but it still was going to be an exercise in frustration. Some bunches of grass would hold me and others were just sadistic camouflage providing sparse cover over thick muck. I saw plenty of birds of prey picking bass out of the water to include something that splashed into the water directly behind me; yanking the fish from the depths and then flapping off. I couldn’t identify it, but it was pretty impressive. Just upstream, a Heron stabbed aggressively and pulled out what appeared to be a 12 inch bass. He threw me a conceited glance as he hopped on stick legs into the brush to begin his meal. He wasn’t skunked.
All this action got me excited and I fished as much as I could in the short distance I was willing to walk. The water was murky, muddy and I failed to get even a hit.
Recognizing I was in a losing situation, I reeled in my line and walked, dejected, back to the truck. It would be another day, another time, I’ll just wait for the weather to warm up. One of the reasons this spot is attractive is that there is no boat launch fee.
Bottom Line: I know snakeheads live here based on reports I found in Internet searches. With the muddy bottom providing their ideal habitat, it’s just a matter of time to wait for them to return. The challenge in this particular place will be to launch a canoe enabled attack prior to the explosive growth of the lily pads that choke the upper end of the bay.
Getting There: From I95, take exit 148 towards Quantico. Turn east at the end of the exit and follow Russell Road onto the Quantico MC. If you do not have a military ID, you will have to show a government issued ID. About 2 miles from I95, you will see a small sign for a “wildlife viewing area” on your right. Turn onto the dirt road for the viewing area and it will lead to a small parking area where there is an unimproved launch. It might be sporty to get a trailer in here – I believe it is just for kayaks and canoes.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.514707,-77.334744
Secrets Revealed? Snakeheads… who cares?
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View up the creek – the herons were going nuts up there
Down the creek back to the launch
This guy outfished me…
Bank made for tough walking. Muck everywhere
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore