The natural food of fishes plays a big role in fishing, because the fish usually eat what they know best. Fish can perceive their food very well with their sense of smell, especially proteins have a high attraction to them. So they also take in food unknown to them, maggots for example do not naturally exist in the water, but they are good imitations of insect larvae living in the water and full of protein. The sense of smell therefore plays a major role for many fish in their search for food. This is often particularly pronounced in nocturnal fish, such as the eel. Therefore I have made an experiment this spring with a food based on eel to attract the fish with their natural food.
Eels are omnivores and feed on small fish, worms and molluscs. In flowing waters their natural food consists mostly of insect larvae, crustaceans and small fish. There are already some reports on the Internet about feeding eels with cat food, for example. But I have not found any report that tries to feed the really natural food of many eels: the freshwater flea crab. From the contents of their stomachs I know that the eels here like to eat brown crabs and are more likely to be found in the fast-flowing sections of water. Hookbaits were nevertheless various worms (dung worm, tauworm and earthworms). I have tried it on three waters: Lake Constance, Rhine and Neckar.
The food was quite simple and consisted of dried freshwater shrimps, which I soaked overnight, otherwise they would float up strongly. I mixed the crayfish with breadcrumbs a few hours before the beginning of the fishing to a very simple feed. The breadcrumbs have two main purposes with every food, also for fish:
- Breadcrumbs serve as glue (binder)
- Breadcrumbs absorb the smell and aroma of other food components
Therefore I let the food draw and mixed it with the water I soaked the freshwater shrimps with. I simply ordered the crayfish on Amazon.
After everything was prepared, the fishing gear was packed up and I set off with a young fisherman friend of mine. “Let’s see if the eels like my food or at least are attracted to it” I thought to myself. Before starting the fishing I moistened the food. As with any other food it is important not to make any dough. The food must disintegrate in the water and form a cloud. Afterwards I distributed the food to some points with the food spinner. Accurate feeding is not so important when fishing for eel in my opinion. With the swell in Lake Constance the feed is distributed very strongly anyway and also in the rivers the feed is distributed and forms a feed track. But first a few words about the mounting and the equipment.
Fishing for eels
The eel mounting
I used a very simple lead mounting.
- Pear lead 30-50g on the 30` main line
- Rubber bead and swivel with carabiner
- Leader with a strong 4` hook and worm pieces
- How to do a simple basic assembly and more tips for bottom fishing is also explained in this article
The tackle for eel
Simple carp rods or other ground rods are sufficient for ground fishing. A strong backbone is an advantage, otherwise any best style will do. Feeder rods are also highly recommended, as they offer little resistance to the fish when it runs into the rod when biting. A normal stationary reel size 2000 is sufficient on the lake, while size 3000+ is recommended on the river. A reel with freewheel has advantages.
About the line: I always take a 0,30-0,35` mono on eel. Not that you really need these high breaking loads, but if an eel gets stuck between stones or rubbish, you’ll be happy about every bit of extra abrasion resistance and strength of the line!
Where there is little danger of hanging, braided ones can also be used (0.14-0.20 mm). But good eel sites without hanging danger and retreat possibilities for the eel are rare.
Holding eels can usually be found at the usual hotspots. They love hiding places like wood or large stones in the water.
– A list of the best hotspots on river and lake is available in this article.
It bites! – the first eels
After everything was set up, it could start! At 10 o’clock sharp, about 30 minutes after sunset, we were ready to go and the eels were biting like crazy. Interesting was that it mostly bit on both rods at the same time or in very short intervals and then there was 20 minutes rest again. I had a really good night with 9 eels in total and 2 of them were allowed to swim again. The biggest eel was 85 cm long. The colleagues without food 500 m further on unfortunately went out empty.
The experiment was especially successful on the Neckar River where the eels ate many brown crabs. There I was able to catch 4 eels in 1.5 hours alone. A respectable result for the heavily overfished river.
For me the experiment with freshwater shrimps as food for eels has been successful and in the future we will also feed eels when fishing.