A Virginia man has caught the largest northern snakehead on record with a rod and reel, landing a 17-pound, 6-ounce specimen of the fish often called "Frankenfish" for their monster-like appearance and tenacious survival skills.
Caleb Newton, a plumber who lives in Spotsylvania County, Va., caught the fish in June during a tournament on Aquia Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River that's near the Quantico Marine Corps Base, according to the Fredericksburg, Va., Free Lance-Star.
Caleb Newton, who lives in Spotsylvania County, Va., holds the 17-pound, 6-ounce northern snakehead fish he caught in June. The International Game Fish Association has approved a world record for his catch of the invasive predator.
Griffin Moores/The Free Lance-Star
Newton tells the paper that it took about a minute to get the fish in his boat. And measuring three feet, it was a tight fit to get the record catch into his cooler, he says. But it didn't give him a whale of a fight, he said.
"I caught one 13 pounds on Saturday, and that one fought harder," he tells the Free Lance-Star.
Newton's fish bests a 17-pound, 4-ounce record for the northern snakehead that was set in Japan in 2004, according to the International Game Fish Association.
According to the IGFA website, the group awards world records for seven varieties of the snakehead, with only the giant snakehead being larger. The record example of that fish was caught earlier this year in Thailand, weighing in at 26 pounds.
Other than Newton's catch, one other IGFA record was set in America — a great snakehead that weighed 14 pounds was caught in Florida earlier this year. All the other snakehead records were set in Asia, where the fish is native.
Northern snakeheads are known for having sharp teeth, slimy skin, a voracious appetite, and the ability to survive on land for days at a time. A spawning population of the fish was found in a pond in Maryland near the Potomac River in 2002.
The predator's move into U.S. ecosystems has led to efforts to control its growth, including holding tournaments — and spreading the word that it's a tasty fish that's worth the trouble of catching.
"It tastes very good. I like them deep fried or grilled with onions and butter," fisherman Brett Miron told Agence France-Presse last month at a tournament in Maryland.