Another week or so has passed and despite fishing 5 or 6 evening sessions in good conditions the eels have done a disappearing act. A little background on the lake in question; I've fished this lake on and off for 40 years and know it like the back of my hand. I taught myself to pike fish on this lake as a kid and had my first 20lb pike and first 20lb carp from here so, although it isn't a very nice place (many brummie park lakes aren't), it holds lots of memories for me.
There has always been the odd eel in there but not enough to make fishing for them a worthwhile proposition. In all those years I could count the number of eels caught on one hand until the recent activity. In the space of a few weeks there were 2 eels caught by accident, including the big one, and 2 that I have caught! That is unheard of for this lake but it seems as though their activity was very short lived and for the last 3 or 4 weeks no other eels have been caught. Very strange behaviour which I've not seen before. It may be that the eels are gathered around the spawning grounds of the coarse fish but due to hundreds of tench and bream being stacked in one corner there's no way a worm bait can be fished anywhere near them.
So, I'm about 25 short sessions in now and I'm not that happy about my catch rate. I've fished most of the lake and have now reverted back to my original area. The perch that were a big pest have mostly moved out of the corner where I'm fishing which has opened up the chance to change my strategy and my thoughts have turned to prebaiting.
It is widely thought/accepted that eels usually feed every 3 to 4 days so this can be used to your advantage. By baiting an area every 3 or 4 days I'm hoping to attune the eels into my feeding pattern. If the plan comes off it might, hopefully, mean less time on the bank and more eels. Now the rivers are open again and the bass have stopped munching on peeler crab other fishing opportunities are calling so I'm looking to reduce the number of eel sessions.. prebaiting works for you whilst you're not there so is ideal if I can keep the numbers of other fish down.
On a session last week I found a fresh, but dead, bream about 5 or 6lb in the corner of the lake. Not one to pass up a chance to use something that comes along I took the opportunity to grab it, cut a few holes in it so it didn't float, and hoofed it out. There's nothing that could eat something that big but the hope is that it may attract the eels to the area... even if it doesn't work it's not going to put them off. I've now changed one of my rods over to a fish bait which is fished a few feet off the dead bream. I've started chucking in a few fish pieces at the end of each session as well.
As well as using old deadbaits from the bait freezer there's not much you can't use for prebait. Such things like meat, birds, dead maggots, slugs, cockles/mussels, offal, roadkill etc can all be used. The list is endless. A trip to a local butcher earlier today saw me walk away with a big bag of chicken carcasses for the princely sum of 50p! The first four ½ chicken chunks are going in tonight with the next lot going in on Sunday evening. Throwing in offal might seem strange but is an old eel fishing trick used by past masters, and probably by a few eel anglers on the quiet. There's no hard and fast rules with regards to how much prebait as every water is different and you have to try and figure out how much depending on how often you prebait and fish, along with stock levels, water size etc. I know of anglers who have chucked in 20kg of prebait in one go on their waters and they have caught well but I don't like to give them that much food personally.. hence the whole bream, chunks of chicken etc.. they can take bites but it should keep them coming back for more... well that's how it works in my head.
On the other rod I've started throwing in a few balls of groundbait, soaked with liquid worm and laced with dead maggots, in the spot I've caught both eels from. I plan to increase the amount of food on this spot but it is only 15yards away from the fish bait so I won't put too much in.
Well, that's it for now. I'm hoping that my tactical changes are going to pay off although I now remember, exactly, the essence of eel fishing... plenty of blanks! PB's and dream fish shouldn't come easy though.
ps. In an earlier post I mentioned the hooks that I use but I forgot to say that I crush the barbs on all of my predator bait fishing hooks. When fishing for predators that swallow baits I always use barbless hooks in case the worst happens and the fish is deep hooked and would strongly urge everyone do the same. I keep the baits on with pieces of rubber band or, even better, last years catapult elastic.