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.
Newton tells the newspaper 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, he adds, it didn't give him a whale of a fight. "I caught one 13 pounds on Saturday, and that one fought harder," he tells the Free Lance-Star.
Newton's fish bests the previous record catch of a 17-pound, 4-ounce northern snakehead in 2004 in Japan, 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-setter for that fish was hauled in earlier this year in Thailand — and weighed 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 as found in a pond in Maryland near the Potomac River in 2002.
The predator's move into U.S. ecosystems has spurred efforts to control its growth, including holding tournaments — and spreading the word that it's a tasty fish 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.