The Salty Fisherman

Should I Be Throwing Live Eels?

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Hey everyone, 

I have always heard stories of people catching monster stripers from the beach and jetty while throwing live rigged eels.  I guess that I have simply never had the chance to do or try it out.  My question is, should I start?  I know people do this live eel fishing technique in places like cape cod and other areas that are prone to 40+ pounders, but is it going to be successful in the NJ area? And if I were to try this, what time of year should I go, where should I fish (Open beach, from the jetty, along the jetty, etc.), and what type of gear should I be using?   

Thanks in advance, 

Salty

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Only you can decide what style of fishing you prefer and enjoy. Fishing live eels is work, its messy, frustrating and sometimes rewarding. Personally, like fishing open beaches with light plugs (under 2 oz.) as I walk a couple miles trying to find a bite, that's my preference. Do I think my catch will be better or as good as someone fishing bait or around hard structure (bridges, rocks, jetties), probably not but I won't go home with eel snot stuck to my seats in my car or the stink of leaving them around. You also have to take time and effort to buy and keep the eels in a tank which is another task.

 

Bottom line, eels are probably better than most baits but you have more work to do. And when ol' yellow eye chops you off a bunch of times, you'll be grabbing for a bucktail. In addition, there aren't many times 40#'s are stacked up waiting for your eel.

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Eels were great transition baits to me. when your fishing falls apart for whatever reason you go buy a bucket of eels and try something different. There was always that time between late spring and when the doldrums were zeroing in when eels worked. Or later in the year when most of the bait would leave the back you could stick a pig with an eel.  Also, rigged eels are always dead.  Lots of way to rig a dead eel but you aren't rigging a live one.

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Thanks for the replies, everyone.  Also, does anyone have any clue what type of rod I would need to properly throw a live eel? I am guessing that my 8ft 3/4-30z rod won't cut it...

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Should you start? Sure why not...

 

Is it going to be successful in NJ? There are eels in NJ so... why not...

 

What time of year? Anytime there are stripers in the area.

 

Where should you fish? Try the rocks if you have korkers.

 

You're asking a lot of questions that could easily be answer by your own experimentation throughout the course of one year. Theres a learning curve involved in eeling. I think you need to spend time on the water with a bucket full of eels. Use the search feature on this website and type in 'eels'. Youll have enough reading material to last you through the winter.

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7 mins ago, The Salty Fisherman said:

Thanks for the replies, everyone.  Also, does anyone have any clue what type of rod I would need to properly throw a live eel? I am guessing that my 8ft 3/4-30z rod won't cut it...

Why do you think this rod wont cut it? Have you tried eeling with this rod? I wouldnt count it out. Why spend money if that rod can perform for your style of fishing

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From the standpoint of terminology, there's live eels and there's rigged eels.  I just saw that FBN said this already, but rigged eels are dead and either 'rigged' onto an eel squid that you just cast out and retrieve because the squid makes it wobble or you rig it with two hooks - one out the head and the second out their butt and you make it swim by varying your retrieve - both very effective.  Youtube has some great vids of different ways to rig them - from Dacron thread to zip ties.  

 

With live eels you're using one big azz hook through the mouth (where you come out - eye socket, throat area, is up for debate, but as long as it stays on the hook who cares). Highlander said, "Fishing live eels is work, its messy, frustrating and sometimes rewarding."  I couldn't agree more.  They are the slimiest creatures on earth and trying to hook a live one while dealing with waves in the middle of the night can be nothing short of maddening.  Carry one of those plastic scouring pads to give yourself a chance of keeping a decent grip on them.  Unless you've got a stiff wind at your back, live eels cast like crap no matter what size rod you're using.  So as far as rod size, IMO the biggest issue is just making sure it can handle the eel's weight as you're loading your rod during the cast. 

 

When I'm fishing them live, I'm always on the rocks, otherwise they just come back to the shallows in my experience.  Bill Wetzel has a great little vid on fishing them which you should watch - no big secret to it but one of the truest things he says is that as you're fishing them you may think a bass has hit it, but it's just the vibrations of the eel swimming because when a striped bass hits an eel there is absolutely no question about it - it's a WOMP!  I couldn't agree more.  Slowly drop your rod tip while picking up the slack and set that hook hard.

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Got her on a live eel in nj. 7’6 rod with a penn conflict 3000 and 15 lb braid. Was deff to light a rod, and prob the reason she died. The rod handled the eel fine but not the fish. I’m fairly confident that had I had anything other than an eel on my line at that moment she would have passed me by. Also keep in mind I get skunked probably an equal amount with or without eels

AAD7DEFA-4F58-47C4-8287-910B9A94A761.jpeg

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14 mins ago, Rkfool said:

Got her on a live eel in nj. 7’6 rod with a penn conflict 3000 and 15 lb braid. Was deff to light a rod, and prob the reason she died. The rod handled the eel fine but not the fish. I’m fairly confident that had I had anything other than an eel on my line at that moment she would have passed me by. Also keep in mind I get skunked probably an equal amount with or without eels

AAD7DEFA-4F58-47C4-8287-910B9A94A761.jpeg

Awesome fish man, were you fishing near structure, or open water?

 

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Structure. Open water in my neck of the woods has been seemingly devoid of bass the last two years. Something someone else mentioned about eels on the beach I think is that they tend to get swept in very quickly making them difficult to fish effectively on and open beach. Although I’m sure people do do it with success 

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30 mins ago, Rkfool said:

Structure. Open water in my neck of the woods has been seemingly devoid of bass the last two years. Something someone else mentioned about eels on the beach I think is that they tend to get swept in very quickly making them difficult to fish effectively on and open beach. Although I’m sure people do do it with success 

Great, and one more question... What time of year was that at?  Do you think that it would be better to fish eels when there is a lot of bait around, or just a little?  (Peak season, or before/after)  Sorry for all the questions.  New to the whole eel fishing game.  

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I’m no expert so I can only speak on my personal experience. This specific fish was caught mid October. The last couple weeks of September and first week of October the fish were feeding on mullet. The week prior to this fish I went out twice, first trip resulted in a few fish of slightly larger than my typical resident fish size, so I figured some migratory bass were starting to trickle in. My next trip the mullet were gone and I was skunked with all my go to choices. It was funny that day around 4 o’clock it just hit me that the bait shop would be closing soon and that I better go pick up a few eels. There was no visible(detectable) bait it was dark so who knows really and I had no bites prior to that fish. I have caught fish on eels when there was bait present. I’ve cast an eel into a school of peanut bunker and hooked up. But in my opinion bait or no bait isn’t really better or worse. I generally fish eels when I’m trying to find specifically larger fish and not just any fish. 

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Posted (edited) · Report post

There is never a wrong time to fish eels

 

I take that back - if there are a lot of blues about, then it's a waste of time and effort, especially if you've rigged em on tins, then it's a lot of effort wasted and a lot of cursing

 

I watched a guy in Montauk put on a clinic in the middle if the day - were were catching on plugs but he was crushing on live eels and all his fish were bigger than any of ours.

Edited by Sudsy

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Definitely will catch you fish. Generally I use them at night but anytime is good really and anytime of season. Simple 2-3 ft leader and a hook. I use circle cuz I have to by law. Pending on eel size anywhere from 5/0-8/0. Prefer to use on beach cuz sand is your friend when hooking them to fish. If on jetty or rocks bring some sand with you. Their slime with muck up anything eventually and you will have difficulty rigging them up. Sand works! Just starting out I'd ice them. Kinda slows them down a bit.  But when you get used to them the squiggly they r the better. Your first few cast r most important. Get it out there and retrieve the first few cast fast. You don't want to give the damn things an opportunity to tie up in a knot. And they will if you let them. This will slow them down so you can start fishing them. Slow as death retrieve and be ready to get slammed. 10ft to 11 rod is best I'd say. 1-4 or 2-6oz rating. You want a rod with a bit more whip than stiff. Go get em

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