GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Natural Resources said they were shocked when they learned a man caught a northern snakehead in the state. It was the first one found here. 

It's a long, thin fish that you need a strong stomach to look at. The metro Atlanta man who caught one said he knew immediately what he was looking at.

Johnathan Maynard was fishing in a private pond in Gwinnett County when he spotted the deadly fish that can survive on land last week. He immediately called DNR.

"When I had him on the dock, dry land, I heard him take a gulp of air, which was really weird," Maynard said. "I had never heard a fish do before. So it was pretty cool, I'm not going to lie."

He said when he caught it, it was like he just hit a tree stump in the water. 

"I just saw this explosion come out of the water," he said. "The fight was only a 30 second fight. The hardest part was getting it up on the dock."

The fish are often introduced through unauthorized release, according to DNR. They can impact native species by competing for food and habitat.

RELATED: Invasive species confirmed: Northern snakehead seen in Georgia

"As adults, snakeheads can be voracious predators. Should snakeheads become established in North American ecosystems, their predatory behavior could also drastically disrupt food webs and ecological conditions, thus forever changing native aquatic systems by modifying the array of native species," the United States Geological Survey writes on its website.

Fourteen other states have reported sightings of the snakehead.

"I have been wanting to catch one of these for so long. And never did I expect to be here in Georgia," Maynard said. "I thought maybe I would have to go up west, down south ... never in a million years did I expect to catch one here in Georgia -- and never in two million years did I expect to catch one here in Gwinnett County."

The DNR says if you catch one, you should kill it immediately. 

So did Maynard kill it? 

"No I did not kill it. DNR says kill it. But I was trying to weigh it and it thrusted violently -- broke my scale -- back in the water." 

From the DNR, DO NOT RELEASE IT.

  • Kill it immediately (remember, it can survive on land) and freeze it.
  • If possible, take pictures of the fish, including close ups of its mouth, fins and tail.
  • Note where it was caught (waterbody, landmarks or GPS coordinates).
  • Report it to your regional Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Office (https://georgiawildlife.com/about/contact#fish)

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