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CanalPlugger23

Eels in the Canal

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Does anyone use eels on the canal.  Using eels sounds like a good idea but they may get tangled in snags.   However, if anybody uses them, advice on how to fish them would be great!!



Also, any advice whether spinning or conventional gear should be used would be helpful.



 


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Lots of people fish eels in the Canal. I stopped doing it because I think eels need to be left alone so their stocks can replenish, but that's just me. To each his/her own.

 

How I fished them depended on how crowded I was. Back in the 1980s, it would be routine to have 15-20 people standing a few feet apart out on the mudflats off Bell Rd. You had to stick with the rotation there, and cast straight out. With room, the way I would fish them was to cast up-current--to 10 or 2 o'clock depending on which way the current was running--and drift them with an open bail and my finger on the line. I fished them with no added weight. Some people like to use a light egg sinker or rubbercore. If I felt a pick up, I'd drop the rod, and take my finger off the line, and do a 5 count. Close the bail wait for the line to come tight, and then set. At slack tide, I fished them the way you would off the beach---cast, close the bail, and retrieve slowly. If a fish hit, then I would just drop the rod tip and set when the line came tight.

 

Even when the current was running, it was necessary to "jig" the eel occasionally to keep it from hanging up. Same when the tide's slack. You'll feel the added tension on the line when the eel is hanging on the bottom or in the weeds.

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Lots of people fish eels in the Canal. I stopped doing it because I think eels need to be left alone so their stocks can replenish, but that's just me. To each his/her own.

How I fished them depended on how crowded I was. Back in the 1980s, it would be routine to have 15-20 people standing a few feet apart out on the mudflats off Bell Rd. You had to stick with the rotation there, and cast straight out. With room, the way I would fish them was to cast up-current--to 10 or 2 o'clock depending on which way the current was running--and drift them with an open bail and my finger on the line. I fished them with no added weight. Some people like to use a light egg sinker or rubbercore. If I felt a pick up, I'd drop the rod, and take my finger off the line, and do a 5 count. Close the bail wait for the line to come tight, and then set. At slack tide, I fished them the way you would off the beach---cast, close the bail, and retrieve slowly. If a fish hit, then I would just drop the rod tip and set when the line came tight.

Even when the current was running, it was necessary to "jig" the eel occasionally to keep it from hanging up. Same when the tide's slack. You'll feel the added tension on the line when the eel is hanging on the bottom or in the weeds.

lots of big bass came off the mudflats back then,

 

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I do not use them,but alot of better fishermen than me use eels all the time @ the Ditch.Great bait,just need to know how to fish them.

 

i use them now and again with little success and then i have friends i fish with that use them and have good luck. it's all about knowing how to work that eel really! im not saying i never caught them on eels i just rather not. they're a wicked pain in the butt, especially using the right hooks they can also be a problem when the fish inhales it into its throat 9 times out of 10 resulting in killing the fish and risking it not being of legal size. between ice not melting or just melting too fast i usually end up giving some away or bringing them back to my dads eel tank. i dont buy them i only his the left overs from commercial season! anytime is a good time to use them especially night fishing!

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I used eels in the Ditch a few times, it was hit and miss, one night every cast was a fish and another I fished for 3 hours with nothing. they work, but like others have said its just using the right technique.

 

I have found that because of the way people fish eels, circle hooks help with not killing, though it is damn tough getting a eel on one of those things

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The questions about what hook makes for a good live eel hookup has been debatable for a very long time. My experiences have been when casting them from shore/or the canal that the eel hook put out by Mustad would serve the purpose effectively. The thicker wired hook may not be as sharp as the Gami, but you will lose less eels when casting hard for distance.

The eels do not seem to tear off with the thicker wired hook as to the Gami, On the other hand if I was out on a boat using them < I prefer to use the Gami.[less casting hard for distance.

 

The barb set up is a little different, look for a barb that is forged, rather then sliced from the wire. They will be stronger and in most cases longer as well. As far as a sharp point goes , with a small file you can sharpen any hook to get the penetration you are looking for. Attempt to get a diamond, [rectangular] point rather then a round point. That way you have a cutting edge where one can easily hook the eel in the position you want the hook to be.

 

 

Depending upon the size of the eel we are using determines the size of the hook , but a average size will be around the 6/0 to 7/0 mark.

 

Many times it is not the size of the hook that matters, but rather how well hooked the bass will be, once it inhales the eel.

 

 

Keeping the eels asleep on ice or ice packs is important as well. Once hooked they will become active once they get back into the water. Be sure to keep the eels away from the ice[no contact if you plan of keeping them for an extended period of time.] The use of a dry towel will allow you to hold them securely while hooking them. Some will tell you to smack the eel to break its back, in order to place it on a hook. I do not recommend that practice as i have found that it actually kills the eel and it will not swim naturally. On the other hand working a large dead eel along the bottom does have its rewards and they should be saved until the end of the trip and not thrown away.

 

When using smaller eels that do not have any size to them, one can place a rubber core weight inside the mouth and down its throat, before placing the hook to them. You will surprised at the size of a rubber core weight one can stuff down the throat. Be sure to remove the rubber from the weight, it will slide down better. If you can, stay away from using external weights on live eels, You will understand the first time you have one all wrapped up in a ball.

 

Using eels can be a very excilerating experience, as in many cases, any bass of size will simply make a pick up and it is of to the races. As some above have stated all you need to do is wait out until the line is tight. This part is very important to get a good hook up, do not have the reel drag set up to tight, if it is to tight most likely the hook will tear away from the fish or if a Gami be straighten out. Once again depending upon where you are fishing and you have plenty of room to fight a large fish work the fish with control from the rod, before going to the drag of the reel if you can. Never ever tighten the drag back down, until you are sure that the fish is spent, and then do it in small increments. That is why, after every catch, you determine if the drag is set to what you determine a safe drag adjustment. If you have the space when fighting a fish of size, at times it may be better to remove some pressure on the fish by reducing the drag, but under a controlled small incremental change.

 

Hope this provides you with some further insite in the world of fishing with live eels

 

 

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Mustad bronze live bait hooks, 5/0 to 7/0. They need to be sharpened. They cost pennies apiece, and if a fish takes one too deep to be safely removed, you can just cut the leader. Also, a bass hooked back in the throat, or in the roof of the mouth, is not going to die if it's released. Bass take an eel back there to kill it with the crushers in their throats. They usually don't swallow an eel until they kill it first, for reasons I can't explain.

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I use Gami circle hook with pretty good results. You do have to train yourself not to set the hook like your swinging a baseball bat. Simply reel tight and they're hooked nicely in the jaw. I don't feel that I miss any more fish than if I was using a J style hook.

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I fished eels for years in the canal. They worked great, but not everywhere. You need to know your areas. Areas that have drop off, ledges, and structure that within easy casting range is important.

However, I think you'll find it's the cost $$$ that limits their use these days. At ~$2 a pop, you can dump a lot of money on a tide. :shock: Years ago, on an average night my partner and I would usually take 4 dozen for an entire night's outing. Imagine that at todays prices!

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When using eels, I used to discard them when they no longer had a spark or life. Now I carry fewer eels for an outing, but when they get too limp I put them back in the bag and grab a fresh one. After I've gone through the live ones I go back to the used ones. I've found that fresh dead eels work pretty good if you impart a bit of motion to them as they drift. I'd do a short little jigging motion occasionally as they drift. I've picked up quite a few bass on fresh dead eels. Sometimes I'll use them on the Point Jude Wobble Heads.

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Live bait hooks they're perfect for eels 1/0 2/0 mustad or gamas will do.. everybody likes to use different stuff so it's all in what u prefer i'd get a little of everything it can't hurt to have extras. u hook the eels through the mouth and out one eye socket.. an old scruff pad or dish scrubber works good for handling those slimy suckers! i saw a write up on things to have while fishing in this months OTW magazine and im gonna definitely try that out. IDK why I didn't ever think of that on my own because the rag method wasn't very efficient.. Good Luck!!:)

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I'm not the most experienced eeler but I did feel more confident when fishing eels around slack when the current isn't screaming or in spots where the water moves slower than most of the canal. However, I have found success in fast moving currents but being in a spot where you are able to get farther out than the adjacent shoreline (points, outcroppings, corners, etc) seems crucial for effectively drifting an eel.

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