Streams

One Man's Search for the Elusive Snakehead Fish in Central Park

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Snakehead warning sign at Meer Lake in Central Park. Snakehead warning sign at Meer Lake in Central Park. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Call him Noel.

His white whale is the razor toothed Snakehead, sometimes called "Fishzilla," or "Frankenfish," for its ability to spawn rapidly and live out of water. 

Noel Rodriguez, 31, is a seasoned fisherman from Brooklyn whose favorite TV show is River Monsters, which has featured the Snakehead before. 

"It is its an aggressive fish," he said. "It's something that has to get out of this water, and I'll be trying the most free time that I have. The most days off I have, I'll be fishing here."

Rumors that the predatory and invasive fish was spotted in Central Park has captured the imagination of some New Yorkers — and it's also inspired some anglers like Rodriguez to go in search of the Snakehead, which can live for days on land.

At the western end of Meer Lake in Harlem, Rodriguez looks over his shoulder to make sure he doesn't hit anyone on the walking path. He leans back and casts his ocean rod deep into the center of the winding lake.

On his second cast, his rod starts jerking. He calmly reels in the fish. But it's just a small perch. He continues casting for another 15 minutes, pulling in clumps of green grass.

Noel Rodriguez, 31, from Bedford-Stuyvesant, fishing for a Snakehead in Meer Lake in Central Park. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

The Bedford-Stuyvesant native says his father, who now suffers from stage-four colon cancer, taught him to fish in Prospect Park.

"He was the one that actually told me this morning about this, so I said, 'All right pops I'll go out there. I might not catch one.' But at least he knows that I'm out there trying still, even with the tough battle he's going through," Rodriguez said.

A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Conservation said it has yet to receive a confirmed Sankehead spotting, and that it suspects the rumors started after the Parks Department installed new Snakehead warning signs last week along the lake's perimeter.

Either way, Rodgriguez plans to keep hunting for the Snakehead in New York City.

He looks over his shoulder  to make sure he doesn't hit anyone on the walking path.  Leans back and casts his ocean rod deep into the center of the winding lake.  

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Comments [5]

john rabuse

I saw one today maybe 15 lbs in flushing meadows park in the old fountain where the ball and sphere were located for the 1939 worlds fair it was ugly fearless and wouldn't hit a lure .... it looked like a sea monster

Aug. 08 2013 12:29 AM
Sassy Lou from NYC

Yeah..the "Creationists" hate that fish too!!!

May. 07 2013 02:01 PM
lovepays from http://www.bloggang.com/mainblog.php?id=lesspays

Good for you buddy! Catch them all! I hear they are good eating.
<a href="http://www.bloggang.com/mainblog.php?id=lesspays">..</a>

May. 03 2013 02:18 AM
Keira from Manhattan

This is a somewhat confusing story. I think it would be a reasonable assumption to see such a (rather ominous) sign and assume the presence of these fish in the lake. If there has been no sighting of a Snakehead in Meer Lake, why would the Parks Dept. place such a sign in the first place?

May. 02 2013 12:36 PM
Mike Moore from Warsaw Missouri

Good for you buddy! Catch them all! I hear they are good eating. You might even see if you can get permission to put out some limb lines or a trot line and increase your odds. You are the man! Get a hold of Jeremy Wade from "River Monsters" and invite him up there for some New York "noodlin".

May. 01 2013 07:29 PM

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