Midsummer Snakehead Fishing

Video bait for snakehead

It’s early July and I’m snakehead fishing the Blackwater in Dorchester County, MD, with my friend Julian. We set out to catch a few snakeheads to take home for dinner and launch our kayaks a little after 7 a.m. under a bluebird sky, with few clouds forecast to block the hot summer sun and the temperature already 82 degrees. Typical summer fishing conditions, here in the Mid-Atlantic region.

kakay fisherman with a snakehead
The author hoists a Blackwater summer snakehead.

Northern snakehead are a very hardy fish and can live in a wide range of environmental conditions. They prefer stagnant, shallow water with mud bottoms and aquatic vegetation. That doesn’t mean you won’t find them in other types of ecosystems, but it will be slightly harder to catch them because there will be fewer fish around. In the Blackwater Refuge waters, for example, you will find large bodies of open water with the upper reaches of its coves and feeder creeks being shallower. With muddy bottoms strewn with lily pads, this is a perfect home for a snakehead.

As Julian and I set off in pursuit of some dinner, we knew that the fish had just spawned or were still in their spawn. Snakehead spawn on and off between May and July. They reach sexual maturity at two to three years of age, somewhere between 11 and 13 inches in length. Their nests are circular in shape, nearly 40 inches in diameter, and in water from two- to slightly over three-feet-deep. They will clear any vegetation above their nest. Both parents will protect and stay with the fry for about four weeks after the hatch.

See also  .225 Winchester for Whitetail Deer Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, Load, Cartridge) for a Successful Whitetail Deer Hunt Hunting Calibers 04 Apr, 2020 Posted By: Foundry Outdoors Is the .225 Winchester a viable caliber/load/round/cartridge for whitetail deer hunting? The accurate answer is “it depends”. However, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether the .225 Winchester is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest whitetail deer. As with anything, the devil is in the details. To answer the question completely, we would need to evaluate the downrange distance to the whitetail deer, the bullet type, the grain weight of the bullet, the physical condition of the firearm, the size of the whitetail deer in question, the shot placement, the local wind conditions, the expected accuracy of the shooter, the ethics of the ideal maximum number of shots – the list goes on. [Click Here to Shop .225 Winchester Ammo]What we can do is provide a framework to understand what average conditions might look like, and whether those are reasonably viable for a shot from the average shooter to harvest a whitetail deer in the fewest number of shots possible, i.e., ethically. Let’s dive right in. In the question of “Is the .225 Winchester within the ideal range of suitable calibers for whitetail deer hunting?” our answer is: No, the .225 Winchester is UNDERKILL for whitetail deer hunting, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.Let’s look at those assumptions a bit closer in the following table. Assumption Value Caliber .225 Winchester Animal Species Whitetail Deer Muzzle Energy 1560 foot-pounds Animal Weight 210 lbs Shot Distance 150 yardsWhat is the average muzzle energy for a .225 Winchester? In this case, we have assumed the average muzzle energy for a .225 Winchester round is approximately 1560 foot-pounds. What is the average weight of an adult male whitetail deer? Here we have leaned conservative by taking the average weight of a male individual of the species, since females generally weigh less and require less stopping power. In this case, the average weight of an adult male whitetail deer is approximately 210 lbs. [Click Here to Shop .225 Winchester Ammo]What is the distance this species is typically hunted from? Distance, of course, plays an important role in the viability of a given caliber in whitetail deer hunting. The kinetic energy of the projectile drops dramatically the further downrange it travels primarily due to energy lost in the form of heat generated by friction against the air itself. This phenonemon is known as drag or air resistance. Thus, a caliber that is effective from 50 yards may not have enough stopping power from 200 yards. With that said, we have assumed the average hunting distance for whitetail deer to be approximately 150 yards. What about the other assumptions? We have three other primary assumptions being made here. First, the average bullet weight is encapsulated in the average muzzle energy for the .225 Winchester. The second important assumption is ‘slightly-suboptimal’ to ‘optimal’ shot placement. That is to say, we assume the whitetail deer being harvested is shot directly or nearly directly in the vitals (heart and/or lungs). The third assumption is that a projectile with appropriate terminal ballistics is being used, which for hunting usually means an expanding bullet.Various calibersA common thread you may encounter in online forums is anecdote after anecdote of large animals being brought down by small caliber bullets, or small animals surviving large caliber bullets. Of course those stories exist, and they are not disputed here. A 22LR cartridge can fell a bull elephant under the right conditions, and a newborn squirrel can survive a 50 BMG round under other specific conditions. Again, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether .225 Winchester is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest whitetail deer - and to this question, the response again is no, the .225 Winchester is UNDERKILL for whitetail deer hunting. [Click Here to Shop .225 Winchester Ammo]This article does not serve as the final say, but simply as a starting point for beginner hunters, as well as a venue for further discussion. Please feel free to agree, disagree, and share stories from your own experience in the comments section below. Disclaimer: the information above is purely for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as permission to use a particular caliber, a statement of the legality or safety of using certain calibers, or legal advice in any way. You must read and understand your own local laws before hunting whitetail deer to know whether your caliber of choice is a legal option.Foundry Outdoors is your trusted home for buying archery, camping, fishing, hunting, shooting sports, and outdoor gear online.We offer cheap ammo and bulk ammo deals on the most popular ammo calibers. We have a variety of deals on Rifle Ammo, Handgun Ammo, Shotgun Ammo & Rimfire Ammo, as well as ammo for target practice, plinking, hunting, or shooting competitions. Our website lists special deals on 9mm Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 45-70 Ammo, 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, 300 Blackout Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 5.56 Ammo, Underwood Ammo, Buffalo Bore Ammo and more special deals on bulk ammo.We offer a 100% Authenticity Guarantee on all products sold on our website. Please email us if you have questions about any of our product listings. Leave a commentComments have to be approved before showing up Your Name * Your Email * Your Comment * Post Comment

We could hear and see them actively jumping about. A takeaway here: these fish are very active during their spawn. You can pretty much sight cast to the fish when you see surface action. Take for example the second fish I caught this day. I was casting a white chatterbait, saw a fish swirl no more then 20 feet from the boat, took a cast slightly past the swirl, let my bait sink to the count of two (accounting for the two-foot depth), then started my retrieve — and the fish slammed my bait. It measured in at 33 inches, most likely seven or eight years of age.

What you will see during the post spawn is the tell tail sign of small bubbles from the fry, just below the surface. As the school moves about you will see the bubbles moving with them. As mentioned before, both parents stay with and protect the fry, and they are very protective and aggressive. This opens up the opportunity to catch two fish off the fry ball, and on snakehead fishing trips I have done just that. I will cast a topwater frog beyond the bubbles and then slowly retrieve the frog in a steady, purposed cadence. If that fails to generate a strike, I will repeat the cast but this time retrieve the bait in a walk-the-dog pattern.

holding up snakehead fry
Snakeheads protect their young, so if you can spot a fry ball, it’s game on.

The first fish I caught on this midsummer day was a 31-inch female near the edge of an opening in the lily pads. I had cast a white Whopper Plopper into the opening, letting the bait settle down, then I started the retrieve, slow and steady, being sure to skirt along the edge of the pads. Times like these are when you’ll see the fish waking towards the bait and you’ll be thinking “Wait for it!”

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We already talked about fish number two, but the third of the day was a slightly smaller 27-inch fish. It was caught along the shoreline feeding on minnows it had forced into the grasses that lined the bank, another common occurrence at this time of year. I had cast a white fluke, rigged weedless on a weightless hook. This is an easy and quick method to work a shoreline, casting the bait right up on the shore and dragging it off into the water. This will at times generate a strike as the bait enters the water. You can also use this type of bait (or a four-inch paddle-tail) to fish parallel to and along grass beds and lily pad fields. With this set-up you can work the bait in very shallow water, starting the retrieve once the bait hits the water. You can fish it at a fairly slow speed, keeping it just under or at the water’s surface, generating a wake off the bait. This will normally entice an aggressive strike.

A few of my favorite baits to target northern snakehead are chatterbaits, topwater frogs and mice, Whopper Ploppers, and that weedless-rigged fluke or paddle-tail. I prefer to use white baits for snakehead and although most colors will work, my first choice will always be white. I also prefer to use baits that are on the smaller size. I have found that fewer fish miss on the strike using a smaller bait, although snakeheads are known to eat prey one-third their body length.

the best snakehead lures
The best snakehead lures for summer fishing include mice, Whopper Ploppers and similar topwater, frogs, and flukes.

During midsummer, in the early part of the day it’s often effective to start by fishing along the edges of lily pads or grass beds with a chatterbait or fluke/paddle tail. As the day progresses and the shallows heat up move to shallower water and work the shoreline with a fluke/paddle tail rigged on a non-weighted weedless rig, and also hit openings in lily pad fields with topwater baits. By midday you will find that the fish have moved up in the grasses, sometimes in locations where you can hear them and can see the grasses swaying but cannot reach them.

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Also remember that tide counts. In tidal waters these fish will move with the tide as far up in the shallows as they can go to feed, making it very difficult to reach them. Fishing on a falling tide as they transition back to deeper areas can be a good bet.

My final suggestion, when the snakeheads are deep enough to do so, fish a large bull minnow under a bobber, as this will usually generate a bite. My friend Zach will normally drag a minnow behind his kayak as he casts a second line, to help keep the skunk away from his day of snakehead fishing.

Finial thought: snakehead are voracious predators that prefer to eat other fish over anything else. Using baits that imitate their preferred meal is another key to catching more snakehead.

-By Eric Packard

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>