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Lions and Tigers, and Snakeheads, Oh My!

posted on August 22, 2016
nj mikey 001 Lions and Tigers and Snakeheads Oh My!

When I first started this site, I did not envision myself interviewing someone about Snakeheads. That is before I met Michael Cowley (@njmikey_) on Instagram. I noticed he catches lots of Snakeheads and seems to enjoy doing it. I knew I had to reach out for an interview, and I am so grateful he was willing to do it. We also got his take on his new very sweet kayak, Feelfree Lure. I learned a lot and am sure you will also.

GFN: You fish for snakehead. I have never caught one. And I can't say they are on my bucketlist to catch. They are ugly. Why should I reconsider and fish for snakeheads? Why do you target them?

The challenge. I've only been fishing for snakehead for a few months now, and I have to say they are definitely the most challenging freshwater fish I've come across so far.

As bad and "aggressive" (misunderstood) of a reputation they have, snakeheads are actually fairly difficult to catch. And once you do get them to bite, you better make sure that hook set is good. They have boney mouths that are difficult to pierce which results in them often coming off the hook. It really keeps you on your toes the whole way through on top of the strong fight and thrashing they come with.

Another thing that attracts me to snakehead fishing is size. Out of the 6 snakeheads I've caught so far, the smallest I've caught weighed in at 2lbs 14oz. The rest have averaged around 5-6lbs with my biggest being 6lbs 10oz. It's almost impossible catch 5-6lbs bass on average, at least here in New Jersey. Snakeheads grow very quickly so it is actually quite common to run into lunkers.

GFN: At one time, snakeheads were to be killed if caught, is this still the case? How do you handle this?

This is where things start to get sticky surrounding snakeheads. It is only suggested that you kill snakeheads, not mandatory.

It is not illegal to release them in waters where they are already established. Now if I caught one, and introduced it into a new body a water, that is illegal.

Snakeheads are very misunderstood. Just because they look scary and have sharp teeth doesn't mean they go around eating everything in their path. There is research being done, and so far there isn't anything that proves that snakeheads are negatively affecting the ecosystem. And they've been established for more than 15 years now here in the US. I get that they're "invasive," but you don't see people parading around chanting to kill Peacock Bass right? Peacocks are invasive as well, but because they're a beautiful looking fish I guess they aren't harmful (sarcasm).

I myself grew up a lover of bass fishing. Until this year, I hated snakeheads because I "heard" they were vicious and would eat all the bass. But that's just what I "heard." I eventually became curious enough to want to try and catch one. After experiencing with them first hand my views quickly changed. They're actually a great sport fish and I'm happy to see that more people are becoming interested in them lately. I suggest you try to catch just one. Experience that fight one time and you yourself might become hooked. The hard work of catching snakeheads makes it very rewarding for when you actually do land one. And if you decide to kill it, at least eat it. People who eat them say they taste great. That's why they were brought to the USA, from Asia, in the first place.

GFN: What waters do you target for snakeheads?

Snakeheads like shallow muddy water with heavy vegetation. I usually fish the Delaware River tributaries on the New Jersey side targeting lily pads and thick mats.

GFN: What are the baits that you use when targeting snakeheads?

Mainly topwater lures such as hollow body frogs and buzz frogs. Being that I fish such heavy cover, it's tough to throw sub-surface baits without getting hung up on grass/weeds. Although, if possible, chatterbaits and zoom flukes work well.

nj mikey 00

GFN: Let's switch gears and talk about your sweet looking new Feel Free Lure kayak. Congrats on a great looking kayak. What do you like about it?

Stability. Stability. STABILITY! I can basically do jumping jacks on this thing. I was searching for a kayak that I could stand up and fish on and I couldn't ask for more with the Lure 11.5. It's a great fishing kayak.

GFN: The seat looks extremely comfortable. How do you like the seat?

The seat is just as comfortable as it looks! I love the seat. It adjusts from all the way down and up to 10" high, in 1" increments. So you can get low for better paddling or sit up high for a better view while fishing. I absolutely love it. It is also very easy to remove and install.

GFN: What accessories have you added to the kayak?

So far, I haven't added any accessories yet besides the $3 Sterilite for storage...lol. But upgrades are coming soon.

GFN: What accessories do you eventually want to get for it?

First, I will get the rudder kit to improve tracking. As much as I love this kayak for its stability, it is definitely not a tracker.

Next, will be a stand up bar. The stand up bar will allow me to rest my paddle and rods on it so I will not have to bend down to pick up my paddle/ rods while standing up. Super convenient.

Last, I will DEFINITELY be getting the new pedal drive/ overdrive system FeelFree is coming out with. The pedals will make it a lot easier to travel long distances in big bodies of water. Then, at the end of the day when I'm tired, I can just kick in the overdrive and let the motor do the work for me. It's going to be awesome!

GFN: Again, thank you Michael. This interview is what Go Fishing Now is all about, learning and growing as fishermen and fisherwomen. You have provided a great education on Snakeheads for all of us. Make sure to keep an eye on Michael's Instagram page to see all of his great catches.

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