Fishing for eels

Fishing for eels is one method used for eeling. If your only interest is in fishing for Big Eels then it’s the same as Sea Fishing you need adequate gear. But if your wanting eels for the table, then medium size eels are what your after, Eels around the 2 to 4 kilo mark are excellent eating,

Fishing for eels in small to medium size creeks are ideal, Soft bottom creeks hold really good numbers. Places to fish: are to fish, a little up stream from the Bends. Where the bends are is the deepest part of a creek, and usually there are deep holes under the bank, this is due to the currents constant flow into that corner, and after a time the water will dig it's way into the bank eventually making deep crevices under the bank, If your after a big eel then he will be there, He just sits and waits for the current to bring him food. A good tip is: the sharper the bend the deeper the whole will be. If there is no big eel living then you well catch a good number from there. If there is a Big Resident Eel there then he will be the only one in that hole. Other eels won’t come near him. We have caught many big eels fishing this way. During the gutting process: have found eels in their stomachs. And also like I have mentioned we have only caught one big eel in those places. If one is there he will: come after your bait. If you manage to catch him then good. Then its time to move on: Remember the Old Maori Saying: At every bend there lives a Taniwha. Another good place to fish in creeks is at the entrance into log jams. These jams create: like a mini dam situation. These places are deep and hold good numbers of eels. Remember to always fish up current this allows the scent of your bait to drift into where the eels are. So the key is in any creek or river is to fish up current. If you’re fishing for eels in lakes, then you fish only fish by chance and eels need to sight your bait before they have a go at it.

Fishing for eels - tips and techniques

We mainly use hand lines to catch eels. Using hand lines, it's easier to control eels when hooked. In the majority of creeks we fish, the creeks are full of dead trees, there are logs and branches scattered everywhere which over the years have found their way into the murky bottoms through Floods, Lightning or strong wind, making ideal habitat for eels. Although we have never scientifically studied eels, over a period of time, if you hunt or fish long enough your knowledge of your prey increases and you will always learn.You end up having an intimate relationship with the Fish or Animals you hunt. You learn about their habits, how and where they live, how they adapt to the changing seasons, what techniques to use, and you adapt as your prey does. For example in the winter there is plenty of food for eels, the constant wet weather brings floods so there is plenty of food being trapped in rivers and creeks. Animals get caught in floods such as Cow’s, Sheep, Possums, but keep in mind eels will only feed on fresh meat. Don’t use rotten meats as many believe, Eels are the same as Sea Fish the fresher the better. Also with all the floods the allow the eels to move around, they will even leave the creeks and move around on land. Worms and grubs get washed into the creeks so during the winter months there is never a shortage of food. Fishing for eels is still productive in the winter months, they can never resist the scent of fresh meat. In the summer months the water levels are low eels tend to stay put during these months, and there far less food available to them. Fishing for Eels in the summer months is just as productive actually it’s more productive because of the lack of natural foods.

Eeling Baits

After years of fishing for eels we have used every type of bait you could possibly think of. Now every time we head out fishing for eels our chosen bait is Ox heart. Before using Ox heart we consistently used worms. Worms are excellent bait but are too soft and messy to use. Fishing for eels is mainly done at night a threading worms in the dark takes a lot of skill. A skill that's honed after many years. We have taken friends out with us, and most times they don’t even like touching the worms, and unless you skilled at worming hooks, you’re going to spend most of your time trying to thread worms, instead of catching eels. An easy way to get worms if you want to use them for bait, is to get some type of disinfectant, then mix it in with some warm water, and then all you do is go out to the back yard, pour your worm catching mixture on the lawn and it won’t take long before the worms start popping out. Why we changed to using OX Heart is because it's cheap to buy. Its easy to bait your hooks with, it’s firm enough to stay on the hook so giving you time to hook the eels. So next time you go out fishing for eels try OX heart.

The lines we use depend on the size eels we want. A 25kilo line is plenty enough for the average size eels, a singe or double dropper rig set up using 3 to 4/0 hooks. Make sure to flatten the barbs, using pliers is the easiest way and you won’t regret it, doing this makes hooks far easier to remove. When baiting always make sure the point of your hook is visible. Having the point visible achieves two things: not only do you get a better hook up, you will be able to hook the eel before it swallows the bait. If you cover the point then the eel has to swallow the bait before you have any chance of catching it. Unfortunately if a eel swallows the hook have to despatch it, and that’s not good, especially if it’s one you could of released. If you have ever tried taking a hook out of an eels mouth while it still alive, well I can tell you it’s a real pain, so with the barbs flattened makes it a lot easier to remove. If you’re fishing for that River Monster or Taniwha then you need some heavy duty gear. When I'm out fishing for eels and I'm targeting the Big Boys I use a 60kilo line and a good solid 10/0 hook, or even a shark hook. If you do hook onto a Really Big Eel then you got your work cut out. Some eels you just cant hold they are that big, they feel like holding on to a big stingray. Many times we have just tied the line to a tree and hope for the best. The big eel I caught while eeling near Kawhia, it took three of us to drag her out of the water and up a steep sloping bank. Half way up the band it managed to rip off the hook, we jumped on top of it, I was on the head area my friend was around the stomach area and the other guy with us was on the tail end. When this thing moved the three of couldn’t hold it. Eels are very powerful and to feel the power of this monster was something special. We eventually got him up and dragged him well away from the creek. He was an awesome site, all my life I wanted to catch a monster like this and I finally did. We had him for about 15 minutes, we all really didn’t know what to say. Eventually we dragged him back to the water and released him. I often think about that eel and our encounter, I hope he’s still alive and living on. And quite often when I’m out fishing for eels he is always in the back of my mind.

Fishing for Eels Processing your Catch

Fishing for eels it’s important to care of your catch, after years of fishing we have our own method of processing eels. Everyone who knows about catching eels knows that the next day the slime has to be removed. There are many ways to remove the slim. Most just put them in hot water. Get a bucket, fill it with hot water then soak the eels, If the water is not hot enough then the slime won't come off, if its too hot the flesh will begin to cook and the skin will start to peel. Some use the ash from a fire. All these methods work but they are time consuming and messy. This method might be more suitable for you. We keep the eels alive. That‘s the key keeping them alive. We use the ordinary plastic rubbish bags. We remove the eels from the hook and place them the plastic bag .

Washing Soda Crystals - Removes slim off eels

At the end of the night what we do is pour Washing Soda into the bag then seal it. What the washing soda does it helps removes the slim which makes it far easier to de-slime them the next morning. The bag is air tight so the eels are reading for processing the next morning. Just take them out and usually it only takes one wipe with a newspaper and the slim is completely removed. The key is to keep the eels alive. I know most people give them a few hits on the head. I even heard of people saying you hit their tail. Come on guys trying to hit the tail is going a bit far. They need to be alive so when you apply the washing soda, this gets them into a bit of frenzy and they are practically remove the slim themselves.

Next time you go fishing for eels try the washing soda. Washing soda can be brought at your local supermarket.

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Fishing for eels using the Band Fishing Rig

As you move through this site you would know that Fishing for Eels was how we first experimented with the Band. We literally caught hundreds of eels using the Band fishing Rig. Eels are an awesome fighting fish. When they latch onto your bait they clamp down and spin. Eels teeth are like rough sand paper. Their teeth are not designed to cut through meats. So to compensate for this by clamping down on the bait they spin just like a crocodile does. Eels also have a powerful jaw when they clamp down with those jaws it feels like a vice slowly applying enormous pressure. I know I have been bitten many times. You skin feels like its been scraped with sandpaper. Using the Band Fishing Rig takes pressure of your fingers and hands. Anyone who has held big eels using a hand line would know that the line can become just like a knife and will cut through your hand with no trouble at all. The Band will absorb most of the fight therefore make it far easier on you and your hands. If your using a hand line which in my view is the best way to catch eels then the Band Fishing Rig will assist you in so many ways. Also another tip is when fishing for eels in lakes or in wide open rivers try inserting a small glow stick. Attach it down by your bait, this will attract eels big time.

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I will be adding more pages on Catching Eels. Future pages will cover, Gaffing, Rippy, Bobbing, Spear, Hinaki and Processing.

Click here to read about Gaffing Big Eels

Gaffing Big Eels at night if you haven’t given it a go then your missing out on some hardcore adrenalin pumping stuff. Its hard to beat. The Best thing about Gaffing Eels is you get to choose the eels you catch. We always gaff at night and always up bush creeks. The Bush creeks are Ideal because of the crystal clear water stony bottom and they hold plenty of eels.

Fishing For Eels Techniques and tips

Fishing for eels is one method used for eeling. If your only interest is in fishing for Big Eels then it’s the same as sea fishing you needs adequate gear. But if your wanting eels for the table then medium size eels are what your after, Eels around the 2 to 4 kilo mark are excellent eating, Or read about

Eel Traps - Hinaki

Hinaki is the Maori word for eel trap or eel pot. Using a Hinaki to catch eels is a simple yet very effective. I don’t often use Hinaki, but if you want an easy way to catch eels then using a Hinaki is the way to go

Using Harakeke the Original Super Braid Line

Using Harakeke or Flax - Harakeke is a highly prized resource for the Maori of New Zealand. Each Tribe or Iwi had its own plantations that was cared for and nurtured by a select few,

Screaming Eels are they true?

As a kid growing up you hear all sorts of stories from adults. They carry on about their fishing and hunting stories and about the myths a legend that all cultures are brought up with. But then one day you realise that some of them are true, why?

Download Life Cycle of Eels

Here you can share with others your tips and techniques for catching eels, all you need to do is fill and in the Catching eels box below and your information will be live on the Internet and it will encourage others to share their own information

More on Eels - NIWA

Science Centres: Aquaculture

NIWA has knowledge and experience in the development and sustainability of commercial and cultural eel fisheries, as well as expertise in wild eel biology and distribution.

Scientific name: Anguilla australis, Anguilla dieffenbachii

Māori name: tuna


Freshwater eels are found in many river systems and lakes throughout New Zealand. The two native species, the shortfinned and the endemic longfinned eel, are distinguished by the length of their dorsal fin, which is roughly equal to the anal fin in shortfins but extends well forward towards the head in the longfin. Historical records report eels of up to 2 m being caught, but it is rare to find eels longer than 1.5 m nowadays. Eels spend part of their life cycle in seawater and part in freshwater, with the spawning grounds of our native eels thought to lie hundreds of kilometres away in deep ocean trenches near Tonga. The delicate leptocephalus larvae ride on oceanic currents back to New Zealand, where they turn into tiny glass eels just before entering freshwater. Eels are well adapted to upstream migration, being good climbers. They have an important ecological role as top predators in our freshwater once they grow beyond a metre, feeding on koura, insects and fish. In the wild, eels reach sexual maturity after 20–50 years and they then migrate back to the tropics to spawn, after which they die.

More Articles on Eels

Catching and Handling eels. here you will find mor information on eels. This note briefly describes the life history of the eel, methods of catching, storing and transporting it, and the ways in which it can be processed, including freezing, smoking, canning and the preparation of jellied eels.

We'd go out in the evening with a bob, made by threading worms onto about a yard of cotton. We'd loop the thread into a circle, then double it and re-double it until it was just a ball – about the size of a tennis ball. It was tied to a length of strong cord, which was then tied to a short piece of broom handle or something similar. We'd ‘bob’ the eels with the worms and when they grabbed hold of the bob with their backward-sloping teeth we'd pull them out of the water onto the grass and kill them. We threaded fireflies sometimes as well.

The eel’s story

Poor eels! They are ugly, slimy and snake-like. Lots of people don’t like them. But eels are actually fantastic creatures. They make amazing journeys and they’re not stupid – they are easily tamed and people can have ‘pet’ eels in their streams. Eels live in swamps, rivers, lakes and estuaries. They eat small fish, insects, worms and snails. Shortfin eels prefer the lowland waters. Longfin eels are good at climbing and often live far up rocky mountain streams. Does anyone else know about Screaming eels?

Return from Fishing for Eels to Home Page or read about catching snapper from your car door on our Highway Snapper Page: What is interesting about this place is that it’s right on the main road to Coromandel and I mean right on the highway. You have to wait until there are no cars before you can cast your rod or back to top

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