American Eel, also known as Freshwater Eel, reside in inland freshwater, typically streams and lakes. American Eel can be caught using a variety of fishing methods including still fishing and bait casting. Cut bait and minnows are effective bait for eel fishing.
Habitat: Ocean, Lake, River
How to identify an American Eel
American eels look like snakes because of their long body and pointy heads. Their dorsal, anal, and caudal find appear to be one continuous fin that runs ¾ the length of their body. They are olive-gray with pale yellow-white abdomens. They can grow as long as 3 feet but typically average about 2 feet long. Though it’s rare, a few have even reached up to 5 feet long.
Where to catch American Eel
Also known as “freshwater eels,” American eels can be found in a variety of habitats. They have been found in freshwater, such as rivers, lakes, estuarial, and coastal waters, as well as in ocean water from Venezuela to the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the eastern seaboard of North America. They are found in abundance in the tributaries in and around the Chesapeake Bay. American eels are bottom-dwelling fish and often sit on the muddy bottoms of rivers and lakes.
The following are habitats where you can catch American Eel:
- Dams and Falls
- Gradual Shores
- Lake and Pond Fishing Holes
- Inlets and Outlets
- Open Water
- Overhanging Trees and Bushes
- Piers, Docks and Pilings
- Riparian Zones
- Rock and Boulder Pockets
- Springs Holes
- Sunken Objects
- Undercut Banks
- Walkways and Bridges
How to catch American Eel
When fishing in ponds sloughs and lakes for the American eel, a good method to use is to cast a bait rig into the shallow flats next to deep pockets of water. Dams are a great place to find migrating eels that have been distracted by a large supply of food. Here you can use a hook and bait – just note that if you don’t set the hook quickly, they may swallow it. American eels are difficult to hold once they are caught. If possible, keep some sand nearby when fishing for eels. Once you catch one, dip your hand in the water, then into the sand to help improve your grip.
The following are effective fishing methods and techniques for catching American Eel:
Best Lures, Bait & Tackle to catch American Eel
American eels will eat almost anything presented to it. Good choices for bait include small minnows, insect larvae and dead fish. They are especially fond of chicken livers, night crawlers and oily cutbait. Because they have small mouths, it is best to use small hooks. American eels strike hard, so make sure the hook is strong enough to withstand a good amount of force.
The following are fishing lures, bait and tackle that can be used to catch American Eel: