Tactics to Chase and Catch Big Eels

The eel can be the least favorite target for some anglers. They simply don’t enjoy hunting the fish. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who consider eel fishing to be an exciting activity. However, not everyone is capable of catching the eel.

The right set of rigs, skills, tactics are mandatory. If you are not aware of those details, we can help you out. In this article, we are about to describe almost everything you should know before heading to the fishing spots.

Size and Weight

Let’s start with the size. Adult eel usually grows up to 36 inches. In optimal conditions, they can be longer than 45 inches. Females are larger and heavier than males. A male may weigh up to 3 kg, where a female can be more than 8kg.


You can’t catch a certain fish without knowing how it looks. Eels have a long body with a pointed head, thick lips, small eyes, shorter upper jaw. If you look from a distance, they look like a snake. A long, long, continuous fin helps to distinguish them easily. This fin is the combined form of the anal, tail, and dorsal fins. Another type of fin is located at the gills, which is called pectoral fins.

eel fishing

At a young age, their body looks almost translucent. As they grow up, the color changes gradually. A mature eel’s body color varies from dark-gray to olive on the upper side. It turns into cream to yellowish on the underside and darker down the backs. It has less similarity to most fish species so that you can identify effortlessly.


They have an interesting life cycle. For spawning, the American eel goes back to the Sargasso Sea, a clam region of the Atlantic Ocean. They change color, take part in reproduction, and then die. The migration typically starts in the fall. And the spawning process begins from the winter. A female eel lays millions of eggs in a single season. After a few days, the eggs transform into larvae. These larvae feature long bodies and large teeth. The current of the sea carries them along with the coastal areas.

They convert into tiny glass eels within 300 days. Their bodies do not become larger than 2 inches, and they roam into streams for over 3,700 miles. Then, they grow up as elvers, which is the small form of a mature eel. Their flanks and stomach areas have a brown-yellow color. Therefore, they are called yellow eels too. Being sexually adult may take five to fifteen years. If they avoid returning to the ocean, they can live approximately 20 years or more. But dying after spawning is the final act of their life.

eel fishing equipment

Best Season to Fish

Fish behavior varies according to the weather condition and fisheries. When it comes to eel, you can get them throughout the year. However, eels are mainly summer feeders.

Due to heavy eating, they grow bigger too. Hence, pick a suitable time between July to October. Spring days also give decent opportunities to capture them. November to March is the least effective time of all. If you go fishing those days, make sure to study fish activities first of your target river.

Best Day to Time to Fish

According to experts, eels start to consume food when night falls. As you can assume, they take the maximum bait from dawn to early morning. You can catch a good amount of fish up to four hours from dawn. Dusk hunting is also quite productive. Several eel species only become active at night.

You will never see them in daylight. Thus, fishing on warm nights will be successful for sure. Don’t forget to bring a bright torch along with the fishing gear. The afternoon is the worst time for shallow water fishing. For ocean fishing in the rain, 4 pm to 2 am is the ideal time.

Best Locations to Fish

The most popular eel living areas are Atlantic coastal areas, Great Lakes, Mississippi River, and many British water sources. They are distributed in a large number of calm, slow-flowing water. They are available on seas too. In general, land-locked still water bodies yield larger, older eels compared to open river systems or open lakes. The majority of them prefer shallow waters to live in.

You will see them around underwater vegetation and shallow covers. Don’t miss the areas alongside reed beds and food supplies. Sometimes, they dig holes into the mud, rocks to make a comfortable home. The nocturnal eels only feed at night, and they stay under rocks or other hiding places during the rest of the time. As night comes, they may go into the upper depths.

Best Baits

Bottom feeders are the group of species that consume items from or close to the bottom of water reservoirs. Some examples are carp, flatfish, bass, etc. Eel belongs to the same category as well. They feed on whatever they find, especially minnows, larvae. So, you can use both alive or dead bait, which floats right next to the bottom and mimics an aquatic animal’s behavior.

Live baits seem more effective than the dead ones. Bigger fish will take the dead lures as well. Feel free to use worms, maggots, small fish, crushed crabs, bunker, chicken livers, larvae, small minnows, and many more. As they have a good sense of smell, baits with strong scent will not disappoint you. An excellent choice is to prepare a mixture of worm pieces with a small amount of fresh fish. It always brings big catches. Or, you can buy artificial eel lures as per your choice.

Fishery Selection

Contact with other experienced anglers to know which will be the best pick at a particular time. You can check the reviews on the official websites too. Choose a location accordingly. Make sure to get a license from the owner. Check the previous details about which spots cover most fish, most useful baits, and other fishing activities.

Suitable Gear According to The Fishing Technique

Eel Fishing Technique

An eel can give a more aggressive fight than larger species. Using an incompatible kit will lead you to failure. Let’s know about the right combination of fishing gear based on different techniques.

Rood-reel fishing: A 1.5 lb rod may work fine for the small fish, but it won’t withstand the load of big specimens. Get a big, durable 2.5-3 lb rod if possible. You can use a sturdy 10 to 15 lbs line, which can tolerate their fighting tendency. Circular size-6 hooks are the perfect match for eels. If you are not using curved hooks, eels can escape easily. Take any suitable lures or artificial lures. You can also prebait a particular area to attract a large group of eels.

Gigging: People who don’t like rod-reel fishing can go fishing with spears. All they have to do is stabbing the spears quickly through the fish. Of course, it will kill the fish. Even if the fish escape, they can be severely injured and die later. That’s why many fisheries don’t allow this method. Spears with multiple barbed prongs are ideal for eels. If you are not hunting in daylight, carry a bright flashlight to see the fish in darkness.

Stupefying: It is typically performed by throwing stones. Some anglers use explosives such as dynamite, which is harmful to the eels and other aquatic animals. Nowadays, electrical fishing is getting more fame. It utilizes direct electricity to limit the eels’ movement. It requires a specialized tool consisting of a cathode and anode. In some places in the USA, this method is declared to be illegal.

Trap fishing: Eel traps can be set with a few items. You have to place a net or wooden basket or any other traps in the river outlets. There are some wired baskets where eels can enter easily but can not go out. No matter which trap you use, hide it from the fish. You can leave it for several hours to one day.

Midwater trawling: Some eel hardly comes in the shallow water. You can catch them from deep layers using this strategy. You will only need a trawl net, strong fishing lines, and a boat. Tie the line to the net and attach the other end to the stern of the boat. Drop the net into the water. As your boat goes ahead, the net will collect tons of eels, crabs, and other bottom feeders.

Seine net fishing: Trawling involves exploring a wide area where seining is done in a limited form. Seine nets are the required gear for this method. Throw the net vertically in the water. If you don’t have a boat, you can grab the ends of the seine net with the help of a friend. Keep walking while holding the net until it catches a satisfying quantity of eels.

Fishing with lift nets: These large nets are equipped with a lifting system. The lifting system is a frame made of either wood or metal bars. You don’t need any fishing vessels. Leave it submerged at the desired depth. Lift it out of the water to retrieve eels.

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