Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Watch out for the snakeheads...

Anglers fishing Lincolnshire rivers are being urged to take care after a pike angler landed a tropical predator more fearsome than a piranha.

Andy Alder, from Lincoln, was deadbaiting on the River Witham, at North Hykeham, when he caught a giant snakehead.

The species is usually found in India and SE Asia, where it can reach lengths of 5ft and preys on other fish, amphibians and birds.

"It had a gob full of razor-sharp teeth," Andy said. "To be honest it looked terrifying."

Today the Environment Agency said the 2ft long fish was probably let loose by an owner after it became too big for its tank.

It was playing down the capture, after one tabloid newspaper warned snakeheads could attack and kill people.

"It requires temperatures of 25 to 28 degrees so it's unlikely to have survived in the water," an EA spokesman said.

"We are not sure where it's come from. It was so cold it might have been able to survive by eating other species. It's voracious and can out-compete native species.

"The big message is that you don't put fish like this in native waters. We would hope that if someone put it in then it was the only one."

The agency will still monitor the section of the River Witham, near North Hykeham, from where the snakehead was caught for signs of a fungal disease common in the fish.

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