There's no other species of British freshwater fish quite like the eel. It really is a fascinating fish that, believe it or not, makes for a fantastic target to those wishing to catch a very big eel.





You would be hard pressed to not immediately recognise an eel, with it's long, snake-like body, tiny eyes, tiny pectoral fins and a dorsal fin that begins a third of the way down the body and extends right back to the tip of the pointed tail and along the underside of the belly.

The head of an eel is very streamlined and small, with the mouth full of rows of tiny teeth.

Colouration varies. They tend to be a yellow/brown but this changes to a metallic silvery bronze before the eel makes its arduous journey to the sea to breed.







The breeding of eels is absolutely fascinating. For years the eel will live happily in stillwaters across Europe, then suddenly the urge will be too strong and they will head towards the sea to breed. They will even leave the sanctuary of land-locked stillwaters, wriggling over wet grass at night to find rivers that link to the sea.

Once at sea they cross the Atlantic to the Sargasso Sea where they spawn. The Sargassum seaweed that thrives in this area gives the eel eggs and the young plenty of protection.



Once the eels hatch, the wafer thin and leaf-shaped fry drift helplessly with the Gulf Stream towards Europe. As they near the European coast they quickly shrink into cord-like elvers and then continue their migration by wriggling in their millions into freshwater.


The gulf stream takes the fry back to Europe


Some don't make it to freshwater - they simply remain in estuaries or in the sea - while others continue their journeys up river. Some remain in the rivers while others wriggle overland to find land-locked stillwaters where they will remain and grow large.

Eventually the life cycle of the eel begins once more.






Eels feed upon all kinds of aquatic life: insects, crustaceans, small fish, amphibians and so on. They become a great deal more aggressive in their feeding at night - the best time of all to catch a big eel is to fish during thundery conditions when the air temperature is high, the water temperature high and the air humid.

If you wish to catch a big eel you will need to try lobworms, halved freshwater deadbaits, or even popped up tiny livebaits ideally fished at night.





Almost every single river and canal in the British Isles contain eels and they are quite easily catchable using baits like maggots, casters and worms. In fact, many anglers try their best to avoid catching eels as their strong writhing and slimy bodies makes them a real 'nuisance' to those who aren't prepared to go to the extra effort of unhooking them.

Location is half the problem though, when it comes to finding big eels - those over the 3lb mark. Don't bother with rivers - you ought to seek land-locked stillwaters close to a river or a canal system as it is here you may find eels that have taken up residence for many years and have had the chance to grow large up all that the lake offers.



Look out for...


Look for steep marginal drop-offs as they hold big eels.

Night fishing is by far the best option when eel fishing.

Overhanging trees or marginal snags are eel hotspots.



Best baits for catching an eel...









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