Coarse Fishing

Eel

Our brief, plain speaking guide to eel.

Dmitriy Konstantinov


If you are out coarse fishing and spot an eel, the chances are you will recognise it immediately – it’s long and snakey with a dorsal ribbon that starts partway down its back running all the way to the tip of its tail. Other fins (pelvic or pectoral) are small, if they exist at all, and the undershot jaw is packed with a good number of sharp little teeth. They are usually browny-green, sometimes with yellowish sides.
 
Finding them
Eels like freshwater lakes and rivers, usually down in the mud or close to banks and in tree roots, venturing out as light fades. They are so good at finding waterways (after all, they will cross land to get to rivers when they return to spawn) that they can be found in almost every river and waterway that eventually gets to the sea, and even some that don’t!
 
Food and bait
Eels go for bottom dwellers like crustaceans, molluscs, dead fish, larvae, insects, and much else too, most voraciously at night and under heavy humid skies when temperatures are up. When coarse fishing, try worms and lobworms, and freshwater deadbaits.
 
Breeding
The eel’s breeding trek would make even a Tolkien fan raise their eyebrows in doubt: reams have been written about its months- or even years-long journeys from inland waterways out to the Sargasso Sea. They will live years in waterways before becoming sexually mature, and then getting the urge to travel thousands of miles to the warmer waters of the Sargasso, laying eggs at depth under incredible pressures. The hatchlings will then reverse the journey, taking years to reach ‘home’ before they too will one day make the Sargasso pilgrimage. Incredible stuff, and quite sobering next time you spot one when coarse fishing a ‘landlocked’ waterway.
 
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