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Meet Derek Radoski, the Snakehead Authority

Posted on Dec 22,2008
Filed Under Local Leaders , Community,

Derek Radoski may be one of the world's pre-eminent authority on snakeheads. The Alexandria pro shop owner has logged thousands of hours trawling the Potomac and traveling overseas to seek out the funny-looking fish with the flat head and beady eyes.
Fishermen began calling them "Frankenfish" after they became a vexing presence after their discovery in local waterways in 2002. Snakeheads are an invasive species that can even survive on land for a few days if they remain moist.
Snakehead action slows down during the winter in the DC Area. "Snakeheads are still catchable," Radoski said. "You just have to commit to fishing for them and not expect them to bite out of aggression. This is actually a perfect time to fish for them from the shore."
Radoski publishes a web site for all things Snakehead at The site for Serious Snakehead Fishermen offers Frankenfish photos, fishing reports, advice on how and where to find 'em, as well as a resource of local fish guides.
He said he learned about fishing for snakeheads from the shoreline from members of the Florida chapter of the Snakehead Anglers Society.
Their advice? "Make sure you walk the shore line and cast the shore line.  Do not cast out in front of you, cast along the shore line.  In the winter throw black in line spinners.  That is right old school in line spinners."

The winningest Snakehead lure may be the Handmade Custom Thai lures made by “Splash Lures” ( Or "The Frogasm," which he calls the best top water buzz bait on the market. It is the only lure endorsed by the Snakehead Angler Society, and at a cost of $25 per lure, they're handmade, tuned and painted in Thailand.

The lure was designed by Jean-Francois Helias, who holds 12 IGFA Records for Snakeheads. "This lure is used by BASS anglers and WBASS anglers to fill there live wells," he said, and is utilized by professional guides on the Potomac River. Radoski's shop is the only place you can buy them, he said.

Radoski said he likes snakeheads best when they're "Black and Gold," the upper-case letters used to accentuate the fish's stripes at their boldest. He tries his luck from time to time at Duck Pond, Roaches Run or the bird sanctuary across from National Airport. But perhaps the "most productive area" to land them is Dogue Creek along the Potomac, near the Fort Belvoir Marina.
Steve Chaconas is the best snakehead fisherman in the area, he said.
"Captain Steve," as he's legendarily known, is a former radio and TV talk show host who's been fishing the Potomac since the mid 60's. Chaconas writes for several publications and covers the Bassmasters Tournament trail for radio and newspapers, and  has a wealth of knowledge as it relates to bass fishing and snakehead angling. "He knows where and how to catch them," Radoski said, saying to ask him for his Potomac River special “Bass & Snakeheads 50/50" split.
Locally, Radoski said the largest caught on hook and line is 12.5 pounds and the largest shocked up by the Virginia Department of Resources was 14 pounds.

Fish tale? Perhaps not. Two years ago, a local Bass Pro Shop was giving away $50 gift certificates for each snakehead brought in. It stopped the practice after the shop became inundated with fishermen hauling them in. At the time, the Fairfax County Department of Natural Resources at Fort Belvoir was taken aback by the immense number of the carnivorous fish it netted, weighed and tossed away.

These days the woes of the Potomac fisherman are numerous. The intense dredging on the Potomac and Wilson Bridge construction have chased many of the fish away.  Another impediment to unfettered angling was a recent decision by the National Park Service disallowing fishing for catfish due to fears of causing ecological damage.
Whereas in years past, Radoski and his fishermen buddies might catch 25 bass in a couple of hours, these days, there might not be a bite for hours. Radoski doesn't care. He lives to fish.

Email Radoski with snakehead questions of comments at

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