Drained Wheaton lake holds no signs of snakeheads

Pine Lake in Wheaton Regional Park in Montgomery County began slowly refilling with water yesterday after state officials who had drained it in search of northern snakeheads discovered no trace of the vicious Asian fish.

An angler hooked a female snakehead at the lake April 26, and Department of Natural Resources officials worried that there might be more of them in the 5-acre lake.

DNR officials, working with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which manages the park, started draining the lake Thursday. By 2:30 p.m. yesterday, the lake was nearly empty and the search was called off, a park official said.

"There was no sign of a snakehead or any eggs," said Marion Joyce, a park spokeswoman.

Joyce said that the lake, which is stream-fed, should be back to its normal level in about two weeks -- or sooner, with rainfall.

Some of the approximately 3,000 fish that were removed from the lake will be returned as soon as possible.

Snakeheads infested three Crofton ponds in 2002 and spawned hundreds of juveniles. DNR officials used a series of poisons to kill the fish.