PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge hosted the first of five special fishing tournaments Thursday night in an effort to rid the urban refuge of the invasive Northern Snakehead, better known as Frankenfish.
The Snakehead, an Asian native, can reach three feet in length. Heinz Refuge Biologist Brendalee Phillips says they’re not just big — they’re voracious, which is bad news for the native fish.
“They’re a very aggressive fish. They’ll eat small fish from other families of fish, they may even eat small turtles and even small birds or ducklings,” said Phillips.
They’re also prolific.
“One female can lay about 12,000 eggs, which can quickly turn into fry,” Phillips said.
Snakehead parents guard them, attacking any fish they see as a threat. Phillips says anglers can use that to their advantage.
“If you can get a lure into the area where the fry are, they’re likely to strike that lure, thinking that it’s something that’s after the fry,” she explained.
Anglers are asked to measure and post photos of their catch, which Phillips says will then be dispatched and placed in the woods for raccoons and foxes to feast on.
“So we’re not just throwing them away into the trash where they can’t be used. It’s still part of the food cycle,” Phillips said.
There’ll be another Skakehead fishing night this month on the 27th, and three more in August.