I am now four days deep into my snakeheading “guide” career, as friends from out of town have sought me out to help them fill their snakey jones on the Potomac. In fact, I have my first repeat visitor coming from Texas (via ICAST) on Friday night for a chance to repeat last year’s ultimately victorious struggle over the prehistoric invasives.
Because I’ve spent minimal time actually targeting them, I still don’t have much of a sense of how to maximize the snakehead bite. I know several areas that consistently hold them, including some big’uns, but I’ve yet to convert most of my follows and looky-loos into landed fish — the most the inside of my boat has seen in a single day is four.
I get the sense that, like bass, they feed better on a low, outgoing tide, but I’m better able to access the thickly vegetated, ultra-shallow areas that they prefer during high tide periods. Despite trying to run the boat “light” and outfitting my Ultrex with various grass-cutting devices, there are certain times when I just can’t get to prime areas.
Whatever you think of the biological effects of introducing snakeheads to many eastern rivers, it has had the positive byproduct of making explosive, exciting fish available to many anglers who don’t have the ability or inclination to invest in a big, expensive glitter boat. In fact, as kayak fishing becomes increasingly popular, this is a godsend for that market, and it’s the first time that I’ve felt that the kayakers have a distinct advantage over outboard-propelled boats.
The one advantage that I retain is the ability to cover vast areas of the river. If one area is blown out, muddied up or otherwise fouled, I can leave. If I have four spots that are each a few miles away from one another, particularly on opposite sides of the river, I can cover them much more effectively than any kayaker, even if he’s trailering from place to place. With snakeheads established and increasingly popular, it seems that there might be an opportunity that combines the best of both those worlds: a Carolina Skiff style boat toting along several kayaks and then allowing them to disperse once in a prime area. After a given amount of time, they could load up again and hit another prime zone — sort of a snakeheading Trojan Horse. There are similar operations in the duck hunting world, so if the demand is there, it would seem to be a logical fit in this sport, too. I don’t know what the regulatory or insurance hurdles would be, but by ferrying out three or four clients each day (and possibly charging different rates for those who rent kayaks versus those who bring their own), the profit margins could be substantial.