Eel fishing

In search of ‘snake eyes’

by Mark Mann

There’s a chance (I bet no one gives it a second thought) that in some of your small estate lakes or inland seas resides a long mysterious creature. And because so few angle for them, it’s very much a suck it and see scenario.  

A fish that travels in excess of 4000 miles for over three years across the world from its humbled begging the island of Bermuda through the Sargasso Sea to reside in ponds and lakes across UK deserves immense credit. 

The Eel.  

Listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) could this just be the rarest of rare fish you’ve yet to catch? 

Two of my good friends and myself were absolutely up for the challenge and spent many an hour studying what environment they prefer and what gives us the best chance of a specimen.  Following this we found a small estate lake that promised good form having heard of carp anglers accidentally catching them.  

Eels just can’t resist lobworms!

Bait for me, was the lobworm. A plentiful bunch on the hook. My other mate a roach head and the other, a fish meal boilie.  Two of us used The anchor or “T” bar rig as it has been named. Size 6 hook, 15lb wire trace and a good swivel just like a combi rig to avoid line twist, followed with a Straight through running rig on a 1oz lead with strong 15lb mainline (they fight!) This rig aided avoiding deep hooking as the Eel is infamous for.  

We used Multi specimen rods and alarms with light bobbins. Trying to allow as little tension for if or when an eel picks up our bait.

Settled in for the evening we went about setting our traps and fired up the Cobb cooker for a stew.  It was a stormy day with the wind raging.  I questioned my sanity being under these large oaks! A few hours later I received a burst of beeps and rushed to the rod, picked it up and leaned into a fish.

I could tell straight away I was into an eel due to this jagged fighting. The tip jagged and jolted. It really is a different kind of fight but it’s unmistakable. It did indeed toe me all over and in time I had my target species in the net and what’s more it looked big! Having made all preparations for weighing she went 4lb 5oz. A personal best and as old as I was within reason! Eels average 1lb for every ten years and live to over 100! 

I was made up! My other mate was next to have action getting long takes that would carry on taking line for many yards but would hit into nothing.  This has somewhat baffled us as it happened on several occasions.  Was it because he was using roach heads and missing the hook? Only time will tell.  The following morning it was my other mates turn who landed one of over 2lb on the fish meal boilie to which drew our session to a close.

Eel angling is very rewarding and I’d suggest everyone to have a go at least once.  The venues we are angling on have produced them up to over 7lb and some are sure of losing bigger. Which just lights the fuel even more…

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