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Everything anyone has ever wanted to know about eels

Posted: Tue Jan 09, 2007 3:25 pm
by duncang
Afternoon all!

I thought I would kick off a new thread about eels. The reason being is that I bought some local smoked eels from the farmers' market in Bath, not having had soem before, and fell in love with it.
Tastes amazing, and I now want to know how I can catch my own.

No doubt there are some of you out there who are seasoned eel fishermen (and women) so I would love to hear from you.

How do you catch them?
Can you use a trap?
What bait do you use?
Where is it best to find them?
Do you need a license?


Posted: Tue Jan 09, 2007 3:50 pm
by 9ball
I seem to remember from when I was a kid try and catch anything but an eel and your almost certain to get one. Horrid stinky things (you may have guessed I'm not that keen :pale: )

Posted: Tue Jan 09, 2007 4:13 pm
by Cheezy

The best way I believe is to use an eel basket. Its a wicker arrangement in the shape of a bottle. The eel is attracted in by a meat source, but can't get out due to either a cloth "valve" or sharp prongs. I remember Hugh F-W caught them in one of his River cottage episodes. Also I have seen a Ray Meirs trailer for the wild foods program he is currently doing on BBC2, and they seem to be doing something to an eel this week.

Don't know if you need an licence it wouldn't supprise me.
You certainly do need a special one if you go elvering in the Severn (around £350!) , cos my uncle can be found down there at the Spring tide on a full moon. Though woah-be-tide you if you are found at his "special places"

Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 2:50 pm
by Johnnie Appleseed
Eels mostly wander around near the ground, looking for dead animals and worms. They are most active when the sun goes down and a few hours later. Here in Germany we catch them mostly in big rivers, ponds or lakes. The best season is from late august to early october.

The line is fixed into a forked stick or so, the bait goes to the ground.
You put a piece of pierced lead on the string (about 20 grams), a plastik pearl to stop it at the knod and a hook being up to 1 cm wide and 2 cm long. We use big worms (giant night crawlers) or several small ones (from the compost or manure) that have to be well placed on the hook, with a nice piece of them slipped on. the rest is okay to hang loose from the hook, attracting the fish by its movements. When you've thrown the whole in, you let it sink to the ground, then you get a small fishing light with a wire sling or something and put it on the string, between two rings of your fishing line. If the string is straight from the water to the line, but hangs down where the light is on, it is perfect: when an eel bites the hook and takes it away, the light will be raised. This way you see the bite at night. Some people also use a bell at the line's tip or simply put the roll of string on loose, so that they will hear the winding- off- sound.

After you got one, you will experience the vital strength of these fish. They move almost like a snake and make it difficult to take off the hook (mostly they swallow it anyway) and kill them.
Normally you put a fish to KO with a stick and then pierce its heart with a pointed knife. An eel doesn't stop to move after this, due to its nervous system activities. It's like a chicken with its head cut off. So don't annoy yourself with killing it for half an hour but "kill" it quickly with a firm hit on the head and a cut throug the spine behind the head. After this put it in a bag that you can shut! Or don't kill it at all and put it in a bucket or a bag, to kill it at home. We've already had an eel wandering down to the water again even after disemboweling... and it's no fairy tale they sometimes move while frying in the pan.

Certainly, the trap methods are much easier and bring more success. But normally only commercial fishermen have the right to catch them this way...
Also it can be quite romantic to spend an evening at the shore, with the small light shining and perhaps announcing you an eel. I know people that got a big catfish instead this way. Not possible with an eel basket.

Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:08 am
by manxminx
i go camping most of the summer with the kids and 2 summers ago the boys and some of the friends thay had made went fishing at night with one of the dads to catch eels i had to help perpare them ( worked down the fish yards for years ) i remember really well not being able to get the slim of my hands normal washing didn't work i had to scrap it off with my nails lol not nice but we cooked it over an open fire in a frying pan with some butter ,lemon and some herbs and it tasted GREAT but then again i think everything tastes beter when your camping :oops:

Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 6:53 am
by Johnnie Appleseed
Right, i did this too, when fishing with my cousin one night. We came back to the camping site at about 2 am, got the pan and the eels ready and started frying. Whoever woke up and heard the sizzling might have been confused, but there's nothing like eating the catch directly after fishing's over. Even at night!
Anyway, it's true that eels taste best when they're smoked, as their taste otherwise often reveals their origin near the ground; same as with carps e.g.. This must be due to the lot of fat they contain, which accumulates taste.