Monday, May 25, 2015

My Dramatic Event with an American Eel...

On Memorial Day, my friend Eric and I took a trip to the Delaware River, with hopes of lifers like channel catfish and american eel.

It was a gorgeous day, with clear water and sunny skies. Although it was pretty, there seemed to be a lack of fish and action for a long time, so I'll just cut right to the good stuff.

I was fishing in a deep hole behind a boulder, drifting a live crayfish, when I felt a vicious strike. I reeled in only to find half a crayfish left. I drifted the half for a long time, until I felt another strike, this time taking away my other half. I decided to use a cut creek chub, with more weight to let it sit and await events.

Lo and behold, I got another strike, but it escaped with my chub. Darn circle hooks!

Rigging up with a fresh creek chub head, I let my bait sit again. I was just cutting up some bait for Eric's little brother Branden when I hear him say, "Your rod, your rod!!!"

I turn around to see my rod bent in half, line peeling from the reel. I grab it, tighten, and fight the fish. The fish was very heavy and strong, and pure muscle during the fight. Consistent, heavy, thumping. I was thinking big channel catfish the entire time. But when I saw a pointy nose come out of the water with a green-grey snake body, I knew it was an eel. I failed to bring a net (I'm so dumb), so I had to drag the eel up onto the gravelly shoreline.

I got it onto the bank, and lifted it up with the hook still attached to show Eric's dad. The eel was huge, more than 3 feet long and at least 3 inches thick.

It was at that moment when disaster struck.

The eel freaked out thrashing as I struggled to get a grip on it. It snapped my 15 lb test braid, falling onto the ground. It was madness trying to get it, with Branden and I trying to get the eel, which was snaking at an incredible pace towards the water. I even had it in both my hands at one point, but those darn things are just about the slipperiest, slimiest creatures on Earth. As it entered the water, Branden dove forward to grab it, but missed, and got soaked in the process. It swam off so fast it was out of sight before I knew it in the crystal-clear water.

And then it was gone.

After a long moment of frustration, I sat down to re-rig and review the things I did wrong. I didn't bring a net, I should've been quicker in getting a grip on the eel, etc. Well, now I know for next time. At least I caught one.

I will redeem myself, though...


  1. Oh no that's awful! It must have been really exciting catching your first eel, but it will be torture until you catch another for a photograph. I forgot my camera when I caught my first lake sturgeon, and it took me a full year before I caught another.

  2. That must have been terrible! Lake sturgeon are such cool fish!

    And you're right, this is going to haunt me until I catch another...