Let's hear about those Eels!

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WiscoCheezHead's picture
Let's hear about those Eels!
<p>I was just looking through some of the Lifelists and saw a number of people who had caught an American Eel. The description in the species tab was quite interesting (and humorous) and since I had never really heard of freshwater eels before, I just wanted to hear any stories you guys may have about eels and fishing for them. Especially all you who have caught eels, let&#39;s hear your story!</p>
Jason E.
Jason E.'s picture
I caught my first eels while

I caught my first eels while living in Boston, MA.  I'm originally from WI but was attending school out there.  I started fishing out there right away, using my usual method of throwing a worm out and leaving it on the bottom.  A few light taps on the rod tip, and I experienced a very odd sensation.  The fish fought and thrashed hard, then let up so much it felt like I lost it, then it fought and thrashed, then it let up again, all the way to shore.  Imagine my surprise when I pulled in a long, skinny, weird looking creature that resembled a snake.  The eels often swallowed the hook and coiled around my arm when I tried to hold them (slimy buggers too).  People out east view them as "pests" similar to bullheads.  I caught tons of them, especially smaller males (1 foot long or less).  The fun ones were the bigger (2-3 feet long) eels, but I only caught a few of those.  I freaked out a few college joggers while fishing the Charles River out there by showing them the eels I was catching. 

I'm not enough of an angling master to have caught any out here in the Midwest, but several people on this site have pulled them out of the major rivers.

Reekfish's picture
My eel

I got my American Eel on a crawler in the Edisto River here in SC. Getting it to cooperate for a picture was nearly impossible. So was scraping the slime off my hands... haha... like rubber cement mixed with superglue!

Corey's picture

It's a big deal, the eel.


Eels are no big deal near the ocean.


But here in Minnesota, the eels have to swim two thousand miles, through sharks and gar and the dead zone.


To catch an eel in Minnesota or Wisconsin is almost impossible.


I'd say it is all pure luck, but I've learned better.  I know it isn't luck - it's all about skill and becoming one with the river.  And the eels.  I'm just an observer.  I haven't done it, myself.  There are some men who have done it twice in one night.  They haven't shared their wicked wisdom with me, but the mystic challenge of the eel is out there. 


Eels swim up from the ocean and they come to your lands of Wisconsin by the hundreds. 


There are eels living near you, right now, in the cracks and crannies.


Better men than me could tell you where to fish.  I will not, because I do not know the eel.


I do not know the eel,


Find them.




Cast_and_Blast's picture
My Eel came from the St.

My Eel came from the St. Croix River and the ironic thing about it is that we were fishing for sturgeon and I was talking with Aaron (aka outdoors4life) about catching an Eel and how awesome that would be.  It was getting dark and when my line started to tug and I then reeled up a 36" Eel.  I was stoked!  This was one of the most awesome catches I have ever caught probably because of its rareness up here.  The reason we were talking about catching an Eel that night is because every year a lucky few sturgeon fishermen seem to catch them.  Their numbers are not great but it seems every year a couple get caught. 


The only thing that seems to be consistant with Eel fishing in the midwest is that they are nocturnal feeders.  This is when I would target them.  Doc is the man who has mastered the species best.  Maybe "mastered" is a strong word but he has a few under his belt.     

WiscoCheezHead's picture
Loving the comments guys (and

Loving the comments guys (and gal). It looks like "to catch an eel in Minnesota or Wisconsin is almost impossible," as Corey says, and typically happens out of pure luck. BUT, seeing as wormhunter had good success over on the east coast, I think I might be in luck since I am studying in New Jersey. Next semester I'll have to bring my rod, do some research, and go for the "mystical challenge of the eel"... Thanks guys.

Life is good. Especially when you're fishing.

MNbowfinangler's picture
Just bottom fish a crawler

Just bottom fish a crawler after dark in the current of any stream out there and you should be able to catch them in New Jersey.

pat_the_nat's picture
Hey CheezHead, eels are an

Hey CheezHead, eels are an easy one here in jerz (but no less mystical btw).  Find yourself some tidal, brackish rivers or creeks and use crawlers, raw shrimp (my favorite), bits of clam, liver, they dont care.  egg sinker above a barrell swivel to a 12" leader of line and a hook.  Hooks choices for eels are tricky, they will gut hook on any of them even circles.  I cant figure out why.  The best I've used so far is a size 1 baitholder.  It's bigger than what I would normally use for similar fishing but they can get the hook in their mouth but not down the throat.  They dont seem to be shy of big hooks with small bait on it.  Nitetime falling tides are the best if you can time your visit.  

Depending on where youre at in NJ you shoudnt be too far from good eel waters.  Anywhere on the Delaware River or its tributaries are good, plus if youre inclined to keep one to eat It's just about the only source of ones clean enough to keep.  Theres still a small commercial fishery for eels on the upper delaware.  If youre costal, look for the upper reaches of tidal rivers and creeks.  Up north is the Hudson, Passaic, Raritan, and Hackensack Rivers, all good for eels.     Use the small ones for striper bait.

Eels can do strange things so watch out.  They can untie hooks, somehow get egg singers below the barrel swivel,  and steal bait (out of the cooler).  Once I had an eel slither unseen out of the water, up the rod, run my line on the outside of three middle rod guides, then slither back into the water with one of my shoes.  They're nuts, especially the ones that swim all the way to wisconsin or minnesota.

J Dunfee
J Dunfee's picture
Have no stories about them.

Have no stories about them. But, for what it's worth, my dad used to catch them with his hands, yeeeears ago. And when he first told me about it, that's when I punched it into google and came up with roughfish.com. That was 8 or 9 years ago.

J Dunfee
J Dunfee's picture
And I have fished for them(to

And I have fished for them(to no avail).. I can vouch for Pat. Weird shit. I'm surprised I had my wallet at the end of each night.

Deftik's picture
Unfortunately I've only

Unfortunately I've only fished for eels about 3 times since the nearest heavily populated area is an inconvient drive, I can tell you this for certain, they are SLIMEY! So badly so that once you touch one you'll never want to again, before putting hands on an eel I scoffed at the idea of not wanting to touch a fish I caught, but the eel tests your limits, my entire hand was encased in slime, but its worth it. Nightcrawlers or even redworms are definately the ticket, eels have a very tiny mouth, and sometimes when they are hooked the only way to find out is by the extreme slack in your line, they don't fight very well, imagine a big line-like fish wiggling on your the end of your rod, thats how it is. Go fourth and bring us your eel reports!

pmk00001's picture
I love eels!

I love eels!


Their whole life history is insane.  It's like "your kidding right?"  The other day I was fishing near the fall line on the Potomac for Shad and watched a parade of elvers pass me be on their way to who knows where.  The were in trouble for awhile in the Chesapeake Drainage, eels are big money overseas and folks were catching the elvers and selling them to be grown out in Europe and Japan.  Thankfully this has been stopped to some extent.  It was uncontrolled commerical fishing.  There making a mini-come back.


It's ironic that I DON'T have one on my lifelist as I've caught tons of eels, I've gigged for eels, caught loads on hook and line, and even befriended the son of a commercial eel fisherman when I was a kid.  It was an interesting process.  A couple 100 eel pots dropped in the bay.  Bait was horseshoe crab (females were best) split in half with a hatchet.  Eels were dumped at the end of the day into a eel car, a floating cage.  Eventually they were sold and made their way overseas.  You haven't seen slime until you seen a few 100 eels in a wooden box.  There was another commerical eeler that was blind in one eye, and rumor was that he got that way by rubbing eels slime into his eye.  

Eels are delicous by the way, I've had them sauted, fried, and smoked.  Smoked eel was a BIG deal when I was a kid growing up in New York.  You hardly ever see it now but back then folks used to sell it by the side of the road.  When I came down to DC for college in the mid-80's I bought a smoker and smoked a bunch of eels for me and my friends.  Everyone else just hated the idea of it LOL.


Alright, I gotta go and catch me an eel :)