Haruan Or Striped Snakehead Fishing
By: Phil Foo
Haruan also known as brown snakehead, striped snakehead, and common snakehead (Channa striata); is one of the snakehead fish species that is commonly fished and they do end up on dining tables. So, how does one go about fishing them? Before I go on, do note that their numbers in the wild are dwindling. Do practice catch, photograph, and release to ensure that they do not go extinct.
[ With the introduction of alien fish species such as the peacock bass; the numbers of these snakeheads have taken a terrible dip… ]
When it comes to haruans, these hardy fishes can live out of water for a certain amount of time as they are air breathers. Being air breathers, they do not live in deep waters as they need to come up for air. This makes them awesome fishes for sight casting. So, if you prefer hunting the fish instead of casting out your line and waiting for a fish to take your bait; this fish will offer you lots of fun.
brown snakeheads hide around in these canals.
These snakeheads are quite antisocial. When they are young, they live together with their other siblings and their parents. As they grow bigger, they leave the group (or family) and go find a mate to build a live with. They will then build a nest, make a good number of babies, and this process of life repeats itself.
Predator To Prey
Without giant snakeheads, the haruan stands at the top of the freshwater food chain as far as lakes and ponds goes. But with the introduction of alien fish species such as the peacock bass; the numbers of these snakeheads have taken a terrible dip. While peacock bass is no match to adult snakeheads; the young fries are generally wiped out by these freshwater wolves in minutes.
Peacock bass are smart fishes. They can even strategize and attack. Since the young of the haruans are always guarded by both parents, peacock bass that hunt in packs have been filmed taking turns to distract the parents while the rest of the peacock bass pack consume the fries. Within minutes there are no more fries left. This is one of the reasons why the numbers of haruans (and giant snakeheads or tomans) are so low.
Let The Parents Be
We do not condone fishing snakeheads that are guarding their young. But should you catch one that is guarding a ball of young fries; return it to the ball of fries. In fact; change your game and fish the peacock bass instead if they are in the waters that you are fishing. While you may not be able to fully protect these snakeheads; you still catch fish and also give a slim opportunity for these fries to grow.
Snakeheads readily take soft plastics.
Snakeheads readily take spoons too.
Where Are They Found
Okay, now that we have establish a need to protect the snakeheads, both haruans and giant snakeheads; let’s go into understanding their habitat. This time we will focus more on haruans. Haruans prefer some form of cover both to hide away from predators as well as to ambush prey that may come near enough, or within their striking zone.
Not to be mistaken with the brown snakehead or haruans, giant snakeheads are darker and more colourful.
Most haruans hide out amongst weeds and other vegetation that lives in lakes, ponds, rivers, etc. Some of these vegetation that are usual hideouts include water hyacinth, waterlily, etc. They also hideout by the side of lakes, rivers, ponds, etc. that have overgrown vegetation from the banks that give them (haruan) enough cover.
Why Hide Amongst Vegetation?
Haruans, like other snakehead species; do not just eat fish. They eat a variety of animals or rather creatures that come into their zone of attack. Should you poke your finger into the water within the striking range of a snakehead; if it is a big one, you will lose your finger. So, if you were to give it some thought, you could figure out what are some of the things that make up the diet of haruans.
Note: we will cover diet in another issue.
Haruans love hiding out in snags such as water plants.
In lakes where there are larger predators such as the giant snakehead, large catfish, etc. haruans will definitely need to hide in order to stay safe. Hiding out amongst these water plants gives them cover from the predators. Other predators include birds such as herons, eagles, etc. can very well catch a haruan for a hefty meal.
Haruans are freshwater fish species that live in lakes, river, ponds, canals, etc. They are found in clear waters, murky waters, and in brackish waters. They can thrive in warmer temperature waters such as those found in low land ponds, to colder waters like those of mountain or stream waters. Being air breathers, they can live in waters that are not highly oxygenated like some urban ponds.
Haruans are also found in rivers and cool mountain streams.
Hardy Air Breathers
Like us humans, haruans breathe air. I use to transfer haruans from one pond to another, to help their population grow. Before transferring them, they were kept in fiberglass tanks. I had two (or three) jump out of these tanks and were almost dried before I found them. I placed them back into the tanks and they lived. That is how hardy these fishes are.
Well, that is it for this article. We will continue with part 2 in the next issue. In the next issue we will look at the diet of haruans and also some of the baits and lures that have been, and are still used to fish them. Meanwhile, happy fishing. Remember to release haruans caught especially those that are guarding their young or fries.