Giant snakeheads can grow up to three feet long. (Photo: Tan Ban Hock)

Reading the snakehead

These fish will come out every five minutes to take in air.

This action alone will give away their location because anglers will be able to see their mouths break the surface, causing sound and ripples.

They are also very aggressive, territorial and protective of their fry.

The parents will swim close to their young and attack anything that approaches them.

Snakeheads also like to take cover in shaded areas, under structures, and have a tendency to ambush their prey.

These fish live in all kinds of freshwater, so the only way to find them is to constantly survey the area for any typical signs of their presence.

Choosing gear

The first thing about selecting tackle to catch the snakehead is to understand the importance of balancing your gear.

This will not only allow you to cast far, but it will ensure that every inch of your setup can withstand the aggression of the fish.

Buy a strong rod (one with a sturdy joint if it’s a two piece), high-pound line and a reel that has a good drag system.

Ban Hock recommends a 10kg drag. Over the years, he has broken about 10 rods due to an unbalanced set-up.

Technique

You can hunt snakeheads at:

  • Lower Seletar Reservoir
  • Upper Seletar Reservoir
  • Kranji Reservoir

To get a bite from the aggressive snakehead, cast lures as close as possible to their exact location and if possible, try to hit it on the head.

This will make them angry and on the retrieve, there is a chance that the snakehead will hit back.

Employing a buzz bait creates noise for snakeheads to track it.

Walk-the-dog lures and poppers are also good tackle to utilise when hunting for these fish.

The age-old technique of spraying on a pungent scent onto your gear will also increase your chances of attracting them.

Another sure-fire way to hook the snakehead is to look out for the school of red-coloured juveniles and cast your lure at them when they surface for air.

The protective parents will be wary of any threat against their young and strike anything nearby.

A slow-sinking lure can also prove to be effective when thrown at the fry because the speed it goes down is very similar to the young.

When the parents see a strange foreign object lurking near their young, they will also attack.

You must always be ready to set the hook once the snakehead strikes.

Snakeheads are best caught and released. (Photo: Tan Ban Hock)
Snakeheads are best caught and released. (Photo: Tan Ban Hock)

It has a very hard and bony head, which means that you would have to use a lot of force to ensure the hook penetrates properly.

Once the snakehead is hooked, you must use force to crank them in and hope that the gear you have chosen can withstand the damage.

This is necessary because these fish will dive into cover when they are in trouble, and as such, there is a risk of getting snagged or bursting the line.

For anglers keen on using bait, herring meat will be ideal due to its pungent smell.

Dead squid, prawns and fish are also suitable seafood alternatives.

Chicken innards—liver and intestines—can be used to catch snakeheads as well, but Ban Hock doesn’t recommend chicken meat because there isn’t enough blood to entice the snakehead.

For more tips, connect with him on Facebook page @ www.facebook.com/banhocktan.

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Ban Hock started hunting for snakeheads for fun and caught his first one in 2000—it weighed in at 5kg. To date, he has landed and released hundreds of them. After reading about conventional ways to trap the snakehead, the father of one started to modify lures on his own. His dream is to catch a 10kg specimen in local waters.

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