Mattawoman Snakehead

April Fool’s Day, The Mattawoman National Environmental Area, Charles County, MD


Dan Betz, Mark Jascewsky and I went fishing on the Mattawoman, upstream of Slavin’s Boat Launch and the American lotus fields.  Working a cove, Dan hooked into a super-fighting fish.  We assumed a sizable largemouth bass or possibly a catfish, but little did we know that it was a snakehead.  In this photo follow Dan’s line down into the water (click photo to enlarge it), and you can see where he first hooked into the fish, probably in about a foot of water, and alongside a submerged blow-down.


After a three-minute tussle, finessing the fish to the boat, Mark was able to net the beast for Dan, while I took photos.


Menacing looking alien predator, slimy and with a distinct odor, and primordial walking fins.


Quite a girth and heavy too.  Per DNR instructions we pulled the gills from the fish and released it back into the water.  MD DNR has a 2012 Snakehead Bounty Program, whereby if you submit a photo, location and date to them, you become eligible for all manner of gift certificates, cash awards and prizes.  It is their attempt to help eliminate this alien invasive from Maryland waters.


From the boat we saw a wonderful display of early spring flowering shrubs and wildflowers along and overhanging the banks, with this photo showing Easter-time dogwood in it’s glory.


Pink azalea, also known as Pinxter flower (Rhododendron nudiflorum), which flowers before leaves appear, hence the name “nude” nudiflorum.


Blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium) near peak flower along the banks.


The absolutely beautiful and delicate bluets (Houstonia caerulea). 


Mark hooks into a lively largemouth bass, it was a good one, and he wrestled it toward the boat . . .


. . . and the fish was able to circle a stick-up and break free.  Damn.


Dan’s snakehead was a real treat.  We worked our way out of the Mattawoman, fishing a few spots as we went, with the goal of heading across the Potomac and over to Freestone Point near the mouth of the Neabsco.


Parts of the day were quite breezy, and it was tough keeping the boat parallel with the shoreline.  We took turns with the Minn-Kota so that we could all devote hook-setting time as needed.


We caught 10 largemouth bass, a few of which were competitive sizes, ranging in excess of three-pounds, 2 bluegill, 2 white perch and the one snakehead.


The two best lures of the day were spinnerbaits and Yamamoto senko worms.  We tried several, including stickbaits, live worms, a chatterbait and a crankbait.


Caught in the afternoon high tide swollen banks with a windy fetch line of debris.

We made a point to fish areas that we have never considered (usually because in the summer they are choked-out with SAV/FAV/EAV), most all of which were productive.


Lake Fork green pumpkin, mixed with Potomac-blue colored worm!


Nice work Dan, notice his white spinnerbait, used on a windy day.


Sweet Mother of all things good, live-well tournament worthy, off of the rocks at Freestone Point.


Fellow fisherman at Freestone Point bids us farewell as we head back to Smallwood.  A great five-hours on the water.  Thank you Dan and Mark.