Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A Mini Quest for my Dream Eel

Eels! Some people love them, most people hate them, but whatever side of the fence you stand on there's no denying that freshwater eels are one of, if not the, most enigmatic and mysterious fish we have in the UK.

Apart from a few single overnighters and a bit of daytime fishing I haven't seriously eel fished since the late 80's so this local opportunity has given me a chance to review my gear and tactics and bring them up to date.

There are a lot of myths surrounding eels and many people struggle to handle them but any fish with the lifecycle like theirs deserves huge care and respect so hopefully along the way I'll be able to help people safely fish, catch and return them to carry on with their unseen life.


There's nothing special required for eel fishing; I'll start off with my current set-up which is about as light as I'd comfortably go but will mention the heavier end of eel fishing. Somewhere in between is what most people should use depending on the venue they are fishing.

Rods: I generally use 12ft, 2¼lb tc rods as most of my fishing is done at close range but for heavy duty eeling in snags, rocks etc then heavier rods upto 3lb tc are the better choice. The fighting ability of eels shouldn't be underestimated and a 4lb eel will put a serious bend in a 2¼lb tc rod. Rods should be through actioned as the headshakes of an eel will often result in a hookpull if the rod is too stiff.

Reels: any 4000 size, or bigger, reel can be used but I prefer baitrunners, purely because I find it handy when setting up the indicators. Loaded with mono - minimum 12lb, upto 20lb.

Nets, mats etc: You want a triangular landing net with a minimum of 42" arms.. any smaller and you will struggle to get the eels tail in and it will reverse out. Mats need to be long enough to comfortably lay out any eel in a straight line. For unhooking tools I'd suggest both long nosed pliers and forceps, along with hook cutters. If you really have no other option then eels are pretty good if kept in a carp sack, but as ever, not for too long and not in shallow weedy, water. Make sure there are no holes in any nets! You have been warned. ;-)

Indication: Most, if not all, eel fishing is done with open bail arms as they are prone to dropping baits if resistance is felt. Over the years I've used anything from 2p pieces on the spool, tin foil rings, bottle tops, ping pong balls, monkey climbers and rear drop arm indicators but whatever you choose they need to be very sensitive and light. I've made myself a pair of indicators specifically for the eel fishing I'm now doing and will elaborate later in the series.

Even more so than most of the UK's predators, eels can swallow a bait if the bite is not seen or left too long, resulting in deep hooking and possibly death. This is an important point when it comes to predator fishing and one which I will most likely refer to several times over the course of the eel blogs. I apologise if it offends, or more likely bores, the more experienced but if it helps anyone to safely catch and release an eel then it is juice worth squeezing in my book. All predators are a resource we need to protect and preserve.

Well, I'm off on a short evening session after the eels again now but next post will show the business end and the reasons for using it, along with some bait talk, as they are sometimes very closely related.

See ya! :-)

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