Catching Eels

Galvanized minnow trap works best. Use bunker and maybe a few crushed blue claw crabs if you are so inclined. 

Place trap in mud bottom area. Eels burrow in the mud during the day and come out at night so make sure the location is somewhere you can leave a trap over night because this is your best bet for a good haul. 

Rigging for Drift in a boat

The best rig for drifting with eels is a 3-way rig. You are going to want a good 36 inch length of 50 lb leader with anywhere from a 3/0 to 6/0 hook depending on the size of eel and bass in the area. For the other end of the rig tie 3-4 knots in 50 lb test with a ½ ounce to 4 oz weight depending on currents, depth, ect. The knots in the weight leader will give you a better chance of only losing the weight should you get snagged because the knots diminish strength in the line. It is beneficial to hook the eel through the bottom of its head through either one of the eyes. This is because the hook will eventually wear at the spot where it comes back through so when this happens just pull the hook back a bit and switch eyes on the eel. When you feel the fish begin to hit the rig, dip the top of the rod down towards the water before you strike, this is known as the “bow to the cow” method and helps ensure the eel is down the hatch before you go to set the hook. This approach works well in inlets and along sod banks. All of this is detailed beautifully in the video below by the incomparable John Skinner.

Eel Maintenance

Eels keep best if kept damp and cold not submerged in water when not at the dock. They can stay alive for days like this when on the water and not in the live well. 

Handling Eels

When on the beach, anglers typically use sand for grip on the slippery critters. This is not practical on a boat. A clean rag will due in helping you get them on the hook. However, some anglers prefer to bleach the eels. This de-slimes them, making them easy to handle, and also makes them white. The white color of bleached eels greatly improves the contrast between them and the greenish waters of the NE, this contrast makes them a lot more visible to bass and other predatory fish in the area, improving your chances of hooking the big one.