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Mhan7

Snakehead fishing in South Florida - looking for boatless locations without trespassing

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Hello to all.

 

My son and I are avid snakehead fishermen.  We have been really hardcore since last fall.  The problem for us, has been that we don't live in South Florida. (we live in Central Florida)  Every time we go, we have a hard time finding a suitable place, and/or new places.  We've fished a few residential areas, most centered around the C-14 in Tamarac and Margate.  We've fished as far south as Sunrise, and as far north as Coral Springs.

 

We only get down about 1-2 times a month, so when we're there, our typical day, is to fish out of a backpack, and cover close to 10 miles on foot.  But the urban fishing routine is getting old.  The quantity of fish is good, but there's too many places off limits.  Oh, and the iquanas.  The hordes of 150+ iguanas, stacked up, and waiting to belly flop into the water ahead of us.

 

Does anyone have some good locations that fit our criteria?  We're due for another trip soon, and we'd really love to start breaking the 7lb mark, regularly.  Since I know most of you guys fishing bass hate them, I'll also say that we're after them for food, also. (if that helps)  We've no interest  in bass, even though we do land the occasional odd 6-7 lb'er.  LOL 

 

Thanks in advance

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Looking to make a trip this weekend. ( week of 4/1 )

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Ok so I’ve never caught a snakehead in all my time in South Fl (haven’t really gone up to those areas or targeted them...yet)   Have you tried fishing the Cypress Creek greenway?   Never been but it looks promising. 

 

C14 canal is definitely the most notorious for SH’s though.  

If you’re just looking for a nice day of fishing and want a break from the urban hopping, I recommend going to everglades holliday park and renting a jon boat for half a day.  Never caught a snake head , but it’s a lot of fun.   You may not catch a snakehead, but you’ll most certainly hook up with some huge gar, bowfin, bass, etc.   I’ve caught almost all the south Fl freshwater fish there save a SH lol (they’re in there though for sure)  I never know what I’m gonna pull up there haha, could even be a baby gator.   

They have live shiners there too if you get tired of artificials.   

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I usually go to Holiday park (Davie) to catch Oscars and Red Devils.  I'm not certain that snakeheads have made it either that far south, or to the west of the big ditch yet.

 

I'm very familiar with the C-14 and Cypress Creek Greenway.  We usually park at Veteran's Park in Tamarac, and work East.  However, that body of water is a bit too large, is too highly pressured, and sees way too much boat traffic. (particularly the morons that launch PWCs and blast down the canal at wide open throttle)  I know the C-14 is supposed to be ground central, but we haven't really found it to be any better than...  some of the locations that we're not supposed to be in.  If I'm fishing a wide canal, I'd much rather be at Markham Park, to be honest. 

 

Honestly, at this time, I don't want to catch anything at all, except for snakeheads.  They are without question, my favorite freshwater species.  We have to drive 2.5 hours to fish snakehead, and we pack as minimal as possible. We take only our proven snakehead tackle.

 

Anyway, I made that trip down last Saturday.  It was a particularly awful day.  The bite was almost nonexistent.  I caught one snakehead - about 5# - which is going into the fry pan tonight.  If you fish 11 hours, and catch only one snakehead, it's a bad fishing day.  Bad, bad, bad...

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2 hours ago, Mhan7 said:

I usually go to Holiday park (Davie) to catch Oscars and Red Devils.  I'm not certain that snakeheads have made it either that far south, or to the west of the big ditch yet.

 

I'm very familiar with the C-14 and Cypress Creek Greenway.  We usually park at Veteran's Park in Tamarac, and work East.  However, that body of water is a bit too large, is too highly pressured, and sees way too much boat traffic. (particularly the morons that launch PWCs and blast down the canal at wide open throttle)  I know the C-14 is supposed to be ground central, but we haven't really found it to be any better than...  some of the locations that we're not supposed to be in.  If I'm fishing a wide canal, I'd much rather be at Markham Park, to be honest. 

 

Honestly, at this time, I don't want to catch anything at all, except for snakeheads.  They are without question, my favorite freshwater species.  We have to drive 2.5 hours to fish snakehead, and we pack as minimal as possible. We take only our proven snakehead tackle.

 

Anyway, I made that trip down last Saturday.  It was a particularly awful day.  The bite was almost nonexistent.  I caught one snakehead - about 5# - which is going into the fry pan tonight.  If you fish 11 hours, and catch only one snakehead, it's a bad fishing day.  Bad, bad, bad...

d**n man sorry to hear that bud.   Yeah Snakeheads are really mostly in the coral sringns/parkland/tamarac area.  Surprised they haven’t spread out more.   I need to go out for them sometime, it’s just hard because I can walk outside and catch a peacock bass less than 10 feet from my house 😁.   So when I bank fish it’s usually spur of the moment.

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I recently read that there was a confirmed snakehead catch in Palm Beach county.  I'm really hoping that's true, because it would take almost an hour off of my travel time. ;)

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Here's my take on So. Flo SH fishing, going into my third year targeting SH it works for me. It's not definitive by any stretch but it's a start for a newbie.

 

I teach every angler I can what I know of how I fish for them. A while back a young guy complained to me how he's had some 20 on the line last summer and not one out of the water, they'd always spit the hook. After the tips below (from my experiences, others may have experiences that work well also) he caught his first one within 30 minutes of my field lesson :-)

 

1. They like shallow warm water most. Cast in skinny water up or down shore, keeping the frog in 1'-2' (or less) of water. Alternately if possible cast directly onto the grassy, rocky, or sandy opposite bank. Let the frog plop into the shallow water and wait a bit, then retrieve. I've seldomly had a SH take a lure in water deeper than ~3'. Rarely one will race from shallow water, but then "generally" when I was in a boat or casting so the fish could not see me on the shore and it was swimming away from me. My fishing buddy has let tree stuck frogs dip in and out of the water and SH have done him the favor of getting the line out of the tree!

2. Pull your frog with the rod tip up high, or if casting along the shore leave the rod tip away (not toward) from the cast (see #3). Retrieve speed medium to fast, alternate till you get one to take it. Leave the frog on the surface. The only time I've had one take one below the surface she was guarding her fry. Slow / stop retrieves have done nothing for me unless over a fish with a brood. Then I think it's from anger or protection more than hunger.

3. When they take the frog, drop the tip down (or push it forward to slacken the line if casting along the shore) and let them have the frog for 2 to 5 seconds. This is VERY counter intuitive for a bass fisherman, it took me more than a few lost fish to get the hang of it.

4. After waiting, set the hook as if you were caught on a log... REALLY HARD. My fishing buddy changes the direction of my tinny when he sets the hook, it does not tear their lips off.

5. SH spook easily fishing from shore, it's uncanny. Unless they're in a hole, under some weeds or facing away from you they will be gone as soon as they see you. Coincidentally in an all electric tin boat, we have caught them in a ~15' wide canal directly abeam of our boat not 5 or 6 feet from us, go figure.

6. On rare occasions casting back to a bank area you recently walked past can yield some fish. Just the other day I got a 5 pounder this way.

7. A Boga grip from shore, or a net in a boat are absolutely necessary tools to have. When SH Are out of the water they go completely insaneo, and leaving them in the water for a net, or in 2" of water for a lip grip is going to get you more fish. Oh, I've used aluminum lip grips, SH tear them up doing their freak out dance once out of the water. The Boga will not be destroyed by a SH and they have a scale built into the handle, a big plus. The Boga has a spinning tip, clone stainless fish lip holders may not, and the only thing you can do is let them flop around while you hold the lanyard.  I bought a Suaoki grip and it does not have an independent spinning lip, the lanyard gripped my wrist so hard on a 3 pound fish I relegated it to a spare. Boga is worth the money.

8. All this is not effective at all with a light rod, A medium or medium heavy rod isn't much better. A heavy rod with decent braided line (I use black 20 pound 4 strand, but I may move up to 30 soon) I don't use a leader, most SH fishermen do.

9. Once hooked never let slack in the line. In the water or on shore they can and will find a way to spit the hook if you do. On shore without a hook or lip grip they thrash about violently trying to get back into the water when they do they're like trying to catch a running chicken, if you remember that scene from the movie Rocky :-)

 

10. I recently went to Gamagatsu offset EWG hooks because I recently lost my first big fish hell driven to get off my line who was dancing like a sail fish to a bent Eagle claw hook. It's too early to tell for sure but others have not had bent Gamagatsu hooks so I'm hopeful. I've caught a whole lot of SH on Eagle claws it's only the biggest fish that I now worry about. It's a PITA to get a hookup on a big fish to lose it for a hook.

 

11. Line. I lost fish with hybrid mono Fluoro. Maybe stretch? Dunno, I went to black 20 lb braid without leader and so far up to 10 pound fish I've not lost anything. I have a spool of 30 but I'm in the extreme minority most use FAR heavier line with an even heavier leader. It's been said SH will hit anything and line doesn't matter, and that's probably true, but heavy black or dark green line can't hurt.

 

12. Bait... frogs, setup weedless. I've also had fish take lizards (zoom) and crawfish when my fishing buddy was in a down / or lull cycle using frogs. 🙂 

 

Snakeheads will take wiggle baits, I've had them take them while fishing for LMB or Peacocks but for me it's rare. Any color frog (I use Ribbit types) will work but if something doesn't work, change colors. I'm finding that there's no "right" color for a SH frog.

The reward for catching them are:

 

They are a fighting machine much like a saltwater game fish well worthy of targeting them, and they are delicious table fare if caught in clean water. The added bonus is if a larger bass is in the area, they will take your frog also.

 

I also have a "feed the poor" policy where the fish are VERY well received.

 

If you feel they're a threat to other species, you're on your own as to what you do with them.

 

I know a LOT of things that do not work for me, but I try not to teach peeps how to fail!

 

 

 

 

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PS, I never caught a SH in the rain, though I've tried, nor after a full moon. There's so little known about SH there's no telling if they feed at night, but based on my experiences they may also be night feeders.

 

Regarding time of day fishing. I have caught them at or near dawn in the winter (a big surprise) but not as yet at dusk. The rest is sort of scattered fishing throughout the day. Our last outing was 10 fish in the boat (one escaped the cooler and leaped back in the water) three or four lost fish in some six hours. They were just under 10 lbs on down.

 

The carcasses make GREAT fertilizer!

 

And do not EVER grab one by the lip like a bass, you will not hold on to them.

 

 

 

snakeheads_2_25_19.jpg

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On 4/10/2019 at 9:34 PM, 954gator said:

d**n man sorry to hear that bud.   Yeah Snakeheads are really mostly in the coral sringns/parkland/tamarac area.  Surprised they haven’t spread out more.   I need to go out for them sometime, it’s just hard because I can walk outside and catch a peacock bass less than 10 feet from my house 😁.   So when I bank fish it’s usually spur of the moment.

My GF lives in Delray, and they're definitely north of there, and especially west Delray (west of 441) Lots of walkable places there.

 

I think any place you find peas you should be able to get snakeheads. 

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