You may have heard of a rather nasty critter called a "snakehead." A type of fish, it's an alpha predator from Asia that sits at the top of the food chain. Considered a delicacy in Asia, the first ones were discovered in 2002 when a man who bought them for soup decided to let them go in a local pond. Though those fish were thought to be killed, it was probably a similar story that introduced others into the Potomac River ecosystem. And here's the interesting part: they apparently are growing even bigger here than they do in their native habitat.
A friend and I thought it might be something of an adventure to fish for them, so we did. We hired a local guide to show us how it's done. As it turns out, it's a lot of fishing for not many fish. This was the only we caught in a long day of hard fishing. They are big, however. This one weighed in at over 11 pounds and was 31 inches long. I didn't think it fought particularly well given its size, but it was still a thrill to catch.
Here's a close up of the head. Some think they are really ugly and some think they are actually a pretty fish. Either way, they do have a rather ornate scale pattern that is quite striking. And yes, the overall effect is distinctly reptilian.
The head is also quite broad, with strong jaws filled with very sharp teeth. All in all, it made for the adventure we hoped for. Would I do it again? Probably not. I think I'd stick with the excellent bass fishery for which the Potomac is known, enjoying the good possibility that I might catch a massive snakehead on the side as well.