U.S. waters is up for speculation, but
“Frankenfish,” as the media has dubbed
them, are proliferating nationwide.
That’s when Wells and a friend
from the state Department of Natural
Resources, which continues to battle
the invasive species, brainstormed a
“From my experience, the best way to
disrupt anything in an ecosystem is to get
humans involved,” says Wells, a passion-
ate advocate for environmental awareness.
“So I thought, if I can create a demand for
it, we can make a dent in the population.
Nobody was fishing for snakehead com-
mercially because there was no market.”
So he set out to create a market by
turning the species into a tasty meal. The
duo started by getting some Frankenfish
into the test kitchen to figure out how
best to cook it. He discovered they “are
very mild, have a clean taste. They’re not
oily at all, just firm white-fleshed fish,” he
says. “They make a beautiful filet. They’re
like steaks. You can get one on a grill, and
it won’t fall apart.”
Wells says he’s the first chef in the
country to serve snakefish.
“The first time I popped it on a menu,
it seemed like every person with a camera
and a microphone contacted me within
a day,” he recalls. He’s since appeared on
the cooking television shows “Bizarre
Foods,” “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,”
and “Hook, Line and Dinner.” Snakefish
may not yet be the top request on his
menu, but he continues to serve it, along
with another invasive species: blue catfish. As a result, local commercial fishermen have an incentive to hunt these fish
– because they sell for considerably more
than standard local species and without
The touch of celebrity limelight gives
Wells a platforms to preach ecological
sustainability while he continues to chase
his passions of cooking and fishing.
“If I speak at a Department of Natural
Resources event, I bring snakehead,” he
says. “The best way to connect with
people is through food. It’s a delicious
fish to eat, it’s here, and if we catch them
and put them on a plate, maybe we can
control them a little.”
As for that boat? He’s now on his
third – and last (maybe) – bass boat.
Wells is in love with his 19-foot,
10-inch 1998 Gambler Intimidator, a
niche performance bass boat marked by
its bold design. “I have a 4-year-old who
says it looks like Batman’s boat,” he says.
He fishes all over the state, mostly for
bass and, outside of invasive species, practices catch-and-release. He works with
local conservation groups and regularly
joins waterfront cleanup efforts.
“From being a chef, I understand how
important these resources are, and I try to
leave as small a footprint as possible,” he
says. The former punk rocker has evolved
into a family man and solid citizen, one
who loves to feed people and catch fish.
“Any day of fishing is a good day,”
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