Harrisburg (WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has issued a warning to anglers to capture and kill an invasive fish species that can survive on land for an extended period of time after evidence of reproduction was found in the Conowingo Reservoir this summer.

Nicknamed the “Frankenfish” for its ability to continue living on land outside of water, the Northern Snakehead is an invasive species, native to Eastern Asia.

The snakehead can survive for up to four days out of the water.

Northern Snakeheads were first confirmed in Pennsylvania in July 2004 after an angler caught and preserved two from Meadow Lake in Philadelphia County, according to the PFBC.

They are a predatory fish and will compete with other fish species for forage and habitat.

The PFBC issued an advisory this week for anglers in the lower Susquehanna River and across the Commonwealth to catch, report and dispose of invasive Northern Snakeheads. It is recommended to kill them by removal of the head, removal of the gill arches or removal of the internal organs. 

This comes after multiple Northern Snakehead captures in Conowingo Reservoir by anglers and natural resource agency biologists this summer, along with the first evidence of Northern Snakehead reproduction in the reservoir. 

Photo courtesy: PFBC — An invasive juvenile Northern Snakehead collected in the Conowingo Pool, lower Susquehanna River in July 2023

Northern Snakeheads first drew attention in the mid-Atlantic region in 2002 when a pair were discovered in a Maryland pond. They have been found in Florida, North Carolina, California and Massachusetts.

“Biologists are monitoring for Northern Snakeheads and removing individuals caught to reduce abundance both during targeted work and during fisheries surveys for other species,” said Kris Kuhn, Director of the PFBC Bureau of Fisheries. “Anglers play a critical role in controlling the spread of this invasive species by harvesting and reporting any fish caught.  We’re counting on their cooperation.” 

The PFBC will be posting signs at river access areas encouraging anglers to harvest and report Northern Snakeheads. They will also give instructions on how to distinguish them from similar looking species, such as Bowfin. 


  • It is unlawful for a person to sell, purchase, offer for sale or barter live Snakehead species in Pennsylvania.
  • It is unlawful to possess live Snakehead species in Pennsylvania.
  • It is unlawful to introduce or import live Snakehead species into Pennsylvania waters.
  • Transportation of live Snakehead species in or through Pennsylvania is prohibited.


Anglers catching Snakeheads should dispose of them properly. Anglers suspecting they have caught a Snakehead are encouraged to NOT release it, and report it to the Commission at 814-359-5163 or complete this form.

For more information on Northern Snakeheads in Pennsylvania, including an identification guide, visit the PFBC snakehead resource page on the PFBC’s website: https://www.fishandboat.com/Fishing/All-About-Fish/Catch-PA-Fish/Pages/Snakehead.aspx