The eel debate

This forum is for discussing eels.
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Aquaerial
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The eel debate

Post by Aquaerial » Sun Jul 12, 2015 9:38 am

Post after Santiago's journal..

Words of experience Micky, time was when I would release those that I could unhook and eat those I could not. However, every eel killed even in those days weighed heavy on my heart so I started experimenting with hooks and still fish today using the same results of those experiments. I use a long shanked sea hook- what we would call a dab hook- and find that more often than not the eel struggles to turn it before the point and barb take hold. Careful removal of the hook then results in the release of a sporting eel which lives to fight another day. The barb ensures very little damage in the struggle to land it. Some may challenge this and I respect their views.
They are magnificent creatures of which I am most fond and like you am saddened with the odd deep hooked specimen which is now usually confined to accidental catch when fishing for Perch for instance.
As anglers we have to accept the responsibility of our actions and any angling can result in the death of fish like it or not. Our responsibility therefore is to minimise this or not fish at all- a simple choice both of which I respect.
Aquaerial
But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn't, didn't already have

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Sussex Micky
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Re: The eel debate

Post by Sussex Micky » Sun Jul 12, 2015 9:56 am

Thank you Mike..you have summed up my feelings and how pleasing to know that you have devised a way to cause minimal damage if ever now..my hats of to you for this..I wish you good Eeling ! :Hat:
micky

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Dave Burr
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Re: The eel debate

Post by Dave Burr » Sun Jul 12, 2015 9:58 am

Good point Aquaerial, eels are incredible creatures and I shudder at my treatment of them in my ignorant youth. I guess it was just the way folk did it - passed on to the new anglers but I soon found that small hooks and quick stikes worked for me and many more were released than died.

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Santiago
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Re: The eel debate

Post by Santiago » Sun Jul 12, 2015 10:30 am

Whether or not one still fishes for them is up to the individual and this fact ought to be respected by all. But I personally restrict my eel trips to one a year, even though I know for a fact that the Thames still has a good head of fair sized fish (yet few compared to several decades ago). For example, I know from experience that if I targeted big chub on the Thames say of over 3lb on one rod and eels on another, I would catch far more eels nearly every trip. Same applies for barbel and pike. But of course, none of these species are as rare elsewhere!

That all said, the specimen eel fisher must now be as rare as his target.

Why are eels rare ?? There are numerous reasons from the swim bladder parasite, over fishing by elver nets, and netting and poaching, and from predation mainly by otters (initial release of otters was deliberately into areas where rivers held large populations of eels because they were recognised as the otters main prey). Therefore, one has to conclude that the main threat to eels is not the rod and line fisherman! But of course not fishing for them helps.

There is some good news though, there was an enormous elver run this year and many were reseeded into smaller rivers. As a biologist I've always been fascinated by these fish and I sincerely hope that they will make a come back, but it's a numbers game and the EA need to do far more to curb netting, poaching and netting elvers.

In biology there was a debate as to whether European eels were actually American, because they all meet up in the Sargasso sea somewhere! Does anyone know if this debate has been solved??
Last edited by Santiago on Sun Jul 12, 2015 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"....he felt the gentle touch on the line and he was happy"

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Harry H
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Re: The eel debate

Post by Harry H » Sun Jul 12, 2015 11:54 am

It brings back many happy memories late nights Eel fishing and something I had thinking of having another go at. We use to use dead minows which we found helped with the problem of deep hooking. I can also remember watching a Angling feature on Eel fishing where the angler recommended tying a piece of covered electrical wire just above the hook which he said solved the problem although can't say I have tried it.
There are three things that improve with age: wine, friendship and water sense, and there's no short cut.
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SofaSurfer
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Re: The eel debate

Post by SofaSurfer » Sun Jul 12, 2015 12:14 pm

Santiago,

No it hasn't. Eels don't migrate from the Sargasso Sea to Europe, they drift here. Initially the Gulf Stream, then The North Atlantic Drift wash them into our estuaries, the leaf shape helps them drift.

There is no scientific evidence that mature eels migrate back to the Sargasso, no mature eel has ever been intercepted en route. The eels in the Sargasso Sea might be a resident population. The eel has been studied for decades but we are not certain about its life cycle.

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Firebird
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Re: The eel debate

Post by Firebird » Sun Jul 12, 2015 12:15 pm

Eels - yuk. Can think of nothing worse to catch myself. I remember all the bootlaces years ago on the Somerset drains. Once hooked 7 on a Thames sidestream on June 16th! No way to begin the season. But I had a memorable 2lb 6oz ( I remember exactly) eel from the Thames as a kid, would have taken it home proudly, but it wriggled out of the bag and back into the river, through my clutching hands. Tragic.

Deep hooking is a real problem with them. Try small circle hooks. They are about the best way to avoid deep hooking. They even work on whiting, the worst of sea fishes for swallowing the lot.

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Santiago
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Re: The eel debate

Post by Santiago » Sun Jul 12, 2015 12:19 pm

Additional points to bring to the debate are considerations that sometimes when we're using specific baits meant for other species we're unknowingly eel fishing. Certain baits like lob worm and small coarse dead baits, at certain times of the day on some waters, are just as likely to attract an eels attention, or more so, than the intended species! On the Thames, for example, a lob worm fished between the last hour of light and two hours into dark, is more likely to attract an eel than any other species (except a perch in the hour of light). Likewise, eels will pick up a small deadbait before a pike.

Perhaps then, to avoid unwanted attention on waters where eels are still easy to catch, we ought to avoid certain baits at certain times of the day, just to minimise the chance of hooking said eels!

I've found sea baits rarely attract eels so may be used reasonably safely ; whereas lob worms may well have no safe substitute. All said, the last 3lb eel I caught was on a trout pellet meant for barbel, and that was in the time zone mentioned earlier!
"....he felt the gentle touch on the line and he was happy"

Hemingway

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Phil Arnott
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Re: The eel debate

Post by Phil Arnott » Sun Jul 12, 2015 8:08 pm

I've had lots of decent eels in the past on cheese and luncheon meat fished during daylight. They also really like maggots, so I don't think it is possible to avoid them.

In the sea, ragworm and crab are probably their favourite baits, unfortunately they are also two of the best flounder baits.

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Reedling
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Re: The eel debate

Post by Reedling » Sun Jul 12, 2015 11:32 pm

There are plenty of smaller yellow Eels in the dykes where I live in fact you daren't use maggots or you will be pestered by them especially if you loose feed. What you do not see so much now are silver Eels being caught in the sea.

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