It's fishing season but there's one fish you don't want anything to do with.

Unfortunately, some fish are just ugly. We know not every catch is going to be pretty and large. Some fish look like a drunk dinosaur. It's one thing to have an ugly fish, but it's another to find a dangerous one.

A few weeks ago, there was yet another sighting of a certain fish in Missouri and now the concern is that they are headed upriver to Illinois, possibly Iowa and Wisconsin too.

The Problematic Fish

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

That cute little button is the Northern Snakehead fish. According to the USGS, they like to hangout in freshwater, including rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes.

They're a problem because they're invasive (they're native to China and Malaysia), preying on native fish and competing for resources. They can tolerate a lot of different water temperatures and they're air-breathers too, meaning if you find one, you can't just throw it out of the water to die since it breathes oxygen.

In Illinois, it's been spotted in Lake Michigan and down the Mississippi River.

You Caught One. Now What?

3 things you gotta do if you catch one, from USGS:

  • Kill it by freezing it or putting it on ice for a long time
  • Take a picture of it so it can be positively identified as a snakehead
  • Contact your nearest fish & game agency (or U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service office) and let them know. They're trying to track and control them since they're invasive.

The Northern Snakehead fish won't hurt you but it will hurt a lot of native fish species if you catch it and don't kill it. If you want, you can eat the fish. The taste has been compared to tilapia.

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