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Old 05-24-2004, 10:30 AM
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Another Snakehead Found in Potomac River


RICHMOND, Va. - An angler caught a northern snakehead fish over the weekend in the Potomac River, the third time in nine days that the voracious alien species has been found in the river.

The 13-inch fish was caught Saturday in Occoquan Bay near Woodbridge by an angler taking part in a bass fishing competition, according to Steve Early, a fisheries official with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Officials at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries did not return several phone calls Monday.

The catch site is about 5 miles south of where an angler reeled in a 12-inch snakehead May 7 near Mount Vernon. Last Wednesday, another 12-inch snakehead was caught across the river at Marshall Hall, Md.

Scientists fear the fish, an aggressive predator imported from China that can wipe out native fish species, may be spawning in the Potomac. But Early said despite the three finds, he is still looking for evidence of reproduction such as smaller snakeheads or females that are ready to lay eggs.

"I haven't seen reproduction," he said. "At this point, three fish is just way too little to speculate about."

Because the Potomac is too vast a body of water to effectively hunt for more snakeheads, Maryland natural resources officials are relying on recreational anglers to determine if any more fish are in the river.

The agency posted signs late last week at marinas and fishing sites warning anglers to kill and report any snakeheads. The signs will eventually be posted between northern Washington and Colonial Beach and in tackle shops, Early said.

The information campaign seems to be effective Early said the fisherman who caught the fish Saturday immediately cut its head off.
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