How to fish for eel

The eel is found in rivers, reservoirs, ponds, canals, etc., being very fond of still water with a muddy bottom. Those that have chosen for their habitation rivers having uninterrupted communication with the sea - unlike the salmon - are supposed to migrate to the sea, deposit their spawn, and the young to enter the rivers and pursue their upward way in large swarms, until they find fresh water wherein to take up their future habitation.

The eel may be taken by the angler at the bottom with worms, loach gudgeon, bleak, minnows, a small lamprey, the entrails of fish, flesh, or fowl, or, indeed, with almost anything; but it is generally caught by nightlines, to which several hooks are attached, and which are cast into the water by a brick, stone, or other weight being attached thereto, and the other end pegged into the bank, or tied to a branch of a tree, or to a bunch of weeds on the water side. Sniggling is a plan successfully adopted for catching eels in the daytime, when they creep into holes in the bank or woodwork, or under stones, or logs of wood. It is practiced by baiting a small hook or stout needle bound to the line for half of its length only with a worm, and presenting it at the entrance of the hole, or at the edge of the stone or log by the aid of a bent rod; the eel takes the bait, and the angler holds the line taut until his prey, gradually relaxing its adhesion to the shelter, is drawn out. Bobbing also is practiced by first string - a quantity of large lob worms upon worsted, attaching them to a bell-shaped piece of lead, sufficiently large to readily sink them; the lead and worms are secured to a pole of sufficient length, say twelve or fourteen feet long, by a piece of stout cord. The eel may be felt to bite, when it is to be gently but quickly lifted, either out of the water, or to be suffered to drop into a basket, floating ready for its reception; their teeth become entangled in the worsted, from which they cannot disengage themselves, if the angler is an adept at the process. Eels are caught in rivers in baskets or pots, to which access is easy, but retreat difficult, wherein have been placed some small fish or some flowers of the elder tree, and in bucks, which are large baskets made on the same principle, fitted to a framework, and at suitable periods and convenient states of the water, lowered therein, when the eels run into them on their downward passage to the sea, or when seeking a new locality. Eels are also taken by spearing them whilst they are lying singly on the bottom, or in clusters imbedded in the mud. The instrument used, called an eel-spear, is of six or eight prongs of flattened iron, the edges of each prong benotched, and fastened to a long pole. It is then violently plunged into the mud and quickly withdrawn; the eels are retained between the prongs by their serrated edges.

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