An angler fishing the Paw Creek arm of Lake Wylie in Mecklenburg County caught a 31-inch northern snakehead on April 19.
Gary Upton of McAdenville took the fish, which weighed 12 pounds, 7 ounces, to a N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission fisheries biologist, who initially identified the fish as a northern snakehead.
The biologist then sent the fish to Dr. Wayne Starnes, curator of fishes at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. Starnes confirmed the identification of the fish as a northern snakehead.
Commission biologists are sampling Lake Wylie for additional adult snakehead and any evidence of reproduction. Lake Wylie is located on the border of North and South Carolina.
Biologists will continue to assess the 13,443-acre lake over the next few weeks in conjunction with staff from Duke Energy and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources to identify the extent of the snakehead infestation. Based on their findings, a management plan will be developed to control the invasive species.
The capture of a northern snakehead is potentially bad news for the Lake Wylie fishery, as well as Lake Wylie anglers. Northern snakehead, which are native to eastern Asia, can harm native fishes in waters where they have been illegally introduced by competing for food and habitat and through direct predation.