Did you know that live eel makes very good bait, especially when fishing for big striped bass? However, catching eels for bait can be quite tricky, especially if it’s your first time to do so! So, how exactly should you catch live eels to use as bait without hurting yourself or missing out on good opportunities?
Read on as I show you excellent ways you can catch eels to use for bait.
Why Use Eels For Bait?
Eels are long and slimy, snake-like fish that have a small head and pectoral fins. Adult eels can range between 10 to 30 inches, which is the optimum length range when using them as bait.
The eel is known to be one of the most versatile and effective baits for striped bass, either used dead or alive. These animals have been used as bait for almost a century, using unique techniques to catch eel and the fish.
You can fasten eels with metal lures, plates, or conical lead heads, using this bait to catch more than one fish. It can also be used for more than just one fishing trip if your techniques are done right, with fishers thinking that the eel bait’s effectiveness can increase as they age.
While you can use dead eels for bait, they can also be used alive, a common practice today. You just need to be sure that they are placed on your hook correctly and that you keep them from hiding around the rocks.
Steps For Catching Eels For Bait
Eels can be quite expensive when purchased as bait. That’s why some would opt to catch their live bait themselves! If you’re wondering how then follow these steps:
1. Set Up the Rig
The first thing to do is to prepare your equipment. Use a medium power spinning rod that measures between 6-11 feet. Medium power rods can also protect the rod from snapping.
Shorter rod length can give you better leverage once you’ve hooked the eel, which is helpful since eels are fighters. But if you’re planning to catch longer eels, use longer rods.
Select a spinning reel with medium-capacity, which has you reel eels quickly. Also, select a 6-10 pound test line to withstand the eels’ trashing, using lines made with abrasion-resistant monofilament.
As for the hook, select a no. 4 hooks and cinch knot it to your line. You can also use no. 2 or 6 hooks if you don’t have no. 4. The hook should be the size of the eel mouth and using cinch knots will ensure that the hook won’t fall off your line.
Afterward, crimp about 2-4 split shots to your line, one foot above your hook. As for bait, use nightcrawler, attaching one to the hook. You can also opt for small minors or dead fish.
2. Find a Good Spot
Next up, prepare when and where you should fish for eel. It’s best to fish during the day so you can catch eels while they hide. During the daytime, eels would hide in mud, under rocks and logs, which is why you should cast the line to the bottom of the waters.
You can also opt to fish at night so you can catch eels while they’re feeding. Eels begin to nibble during twilight, and they are ready to eat at nightfall. They usually do this at night so they avoid being seen and caught.
Summer nights are the best time to catch eels as they are most active when it’s hot and humid, also having more appetite.
Select a fishing spot near high and muddy water, as eels are most active when the water levels are high and the bottom os the waters are mirky. You can find eels in deep riverbeds, near muddier water sections. They are also most active after thunderstorms.
Great eel fishing spots are ponds, rivers, canals, and reservoirs. Search for them in shallow flats near deep water in ponds and lakes. In rivers, they are near deeper areas and in quiet backwaters.
3. Cast and Reel
Cast your line to the waters as far as you can so they end up in deeper and murky waters. The rig should settle to the bottom when you make a cast. Check if there are any tugs or changes to your line using a flashlight if you fish at night.
Recast after two minutes if you haven’t had a bite yet and cast again. Set the hook once you feel two tugs, pulling back fast and firmly to secure the eel. Reel the eel in gradually when it tires out, then get ready to exert more strength, keeping your rod and feet firm.
Beach the eel to the shore, then unhook it. You’ve caught an eel!
Now that you know about catching eels for bait, how do you use them as bait properly? These are quick tips to get you started:
- Be sure to pack eels on ice, since they are sluggish and easier to handle. You can place them in a ziplock bag, then to another bag with ice, and those two bags in a bigger bag.
- You can’t handle eels with bare hands, they are very slippery! Use a dry rag or kitchen scrubber.
- When preparing them as bait, Hook them through their chin, then out from the eye. This keeps them on hooks without killing them.
Do you still want to learn more about catching eels for bait? Check out this cool video here:
Wrapping It Up
If you’re planning to capture large fish like the striped bass, then you’ll want to use eels as bait. You can yield great amounts and sizes of fish with it, as long as you do it right. With good methods of catching eels and using them as live bait, you have more chances of success and will come home with something huge.
I hope that this article on catching eels for bait helped you out! So don’t wait any longer and try capturing one for your next fishing trips now.