May 27, 2022
Maryland is offering anglers the opportunities to earn a few bucks while helping researchers monitor the population of invasive northern snakehead fish in two state waterways.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has begun a new tagging program to study snakeheads in Chesapeake Bay and Blackwater River, the agency announced. The program is being held in conjunction with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
From now until 2024, anglers who catch a snakehead with a yellow or blue tag attached can win a gift card of $10 or $200, depending on the tag. The agencies placed tags on up to 500 northern snakeheads.
Only harvested tagged snakeheads will qualify. Once a tagged fish is caught, the angler should call the USFWS (800-448-8322) to report the tag number and take a photo of the fish and tag.
"By measuring the amount of northern snakehead harvested, the agencies will learn if population benchmarks are being reached and help control the spread of the species," Maryland DNR said in a news release.
"The population of snakeheads has been increasing in the upper Chesapeake Bay and is likely the top fish species that eats other fish in the Blackwater River. Harvesting snakeheads helps reduce predation pressure on the state’s natural resources, and the fish is also considered a flavorful and nutritious food source.”
The exceptionally hardy northern snakeheads were first observed in Maryland in 2002, and have since spread throughout the Chesapeake system.
Harvested snakeheads in Maryland should be killed immediately; it is illegal to transport live snakeheads in the state, as well as surrounding states. Caught-and-released snakeheads should be immediately released back into the water where caught.
Anglers 16 and up must have a valid Maryland fishing license to catch snakeheads. More info on Northern Snakeheads in Maryland