Eel (Anguilla anguilla)
| Fact File: British Record 11lb 2oz (5.046kg)|
Captor: S. Terry
Location: Kingfisher Lake, Ringwood, Hampshire
The Eel is one of the most mysterious fish, a subject of mystic and folklore over the centuries. Having a long serpentine body, almost round in cross section, it is mainly a bottom dweller living in ponds, lakes and rivers. The males of the species rarely exceeding 50cms in length whereupon the female can reach 150cms and exceptionally reach weights of 6kg plus. The staple diet of the smaller fish tends to be insect larvae and worms, the larger specimens feeding also on small fish.
Much of the Eel's mysticism surround it's spawning habits. The mature Eel migrates downstream heading to the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic, off the east coast of America north of the Bermudas. Moving on dark moonless nights, undertaking a journey of some eighteen months where once their spawning ground is reached, they spawn and then die. During this period their eyes grow strikingly large. The resultant larvae drift with the Gulf Stream towards the coast of Europe, reaching it in about three years. During the period October to April, these Elvers measuring approximately 15cms, migrate upstream in huge masses until they find a place to settle whereupon they can remain for 13 - 16 years before they too start their migration to the spawning ground.
Methods of Capture. The smaller Eel can be caught with worm or maggot, generally when fishing for another species. Leger tactics are favoured as the Eel is a bottom dweller. The larger specimen can be caught with freshwater dead-baits in the 4 - 6 cm size range, legered over a pre-baited area. The groundbait can consist of minced fish and offal which has some excellent results especially if used prior to fishing. The Eel will as a rule run with the bait initially prior to swallowing it. Allow the fish time to run but from the point of striking, keep the line taught at all times. It can also be advantageous to use a swivel between the hook length and main line. Strong tackle is highly recommended.
For specialist advice on un-hooking and handling Eels, Click Here
Tip: You'll find that a nice whole juicy lobworm ledgered with 10lb line through to a 10 lb hooklink works excellently fished at night on the rivers. When on the bank lay the fish on its back to calm it and try not to take off the slime as it helps prevent disease to the fish. Once unhooked ALWAYS return your fish carefully.
Links to related sites
National Anguilla Club
Eels from Stillwaters with Dave Holman
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