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Fishing Eels striped bass

Live Eel striper fishing

Striped Bass Eels

striper fishing with eels

Eels are the most versatile of Striped Bass baits Tutorial by the King of Eels Joe Brotz (Roccus)

Striper Fishing with live eels
Striped bass eel rig

Different methods come from different areas. In areas with deep water over under water reefs they are fished with a large sinker and 3 way swivel. The main line is attached to the 3 way, 18" of 40 or 50 lb floro and a 6/0 circle hook go to the middle eye,the sinker is attached to 2' of 20lb test and a breakaway rig,just like the one used in some bottom hi-lo rigs. Circle hooks work best for this set up because the bait is often taken before you feel the bite,heavy tackle is the key here. Up my way (Merrimack river mass) eels are drifted, trolled (with an electric motor) and plugged. when drifting eels, river mouth, under water reef, under water mussel beds, rock piles and sandbars make good ambush points, 20- 30lb test line and a 18-24" length of 25lb floro carbon leader and a 4/0-6/0- hook (I like Gamigatsu octopuss style) will give you a shot at a decent fish,a small rubber core sinker can be added if you feel the eel isnt getting to the fish (bottom) but I find this un necesarry most of the time. I combine trolling and plugging, when fishing the river 20 lb test is as light as I go, my standard trolling outfits are 6 1/2' lami glass customs and penn 320 GTI lever drags loaded with 60 lb power pro with a 6' 40lb shocker leader and a 18" 25 lb floro leader, a #30 lb barrel swivel connects the rig to the leader and a 4/0 Gami is at the buisness end. The eels are trolled with the tide, just fast enough to make headway speed, look for mussel beds, creek mouths and grassy banks, while trolling, another eel is cast and retrieved (slowly) up ahead and to the boat,with fantastic results. Make sure you reel all the way to the boat,I cant count the baths Ive seen guys get when they lifted the bait as a bass made a last effort to snag the eel. Fishing the beachfront I'll go lighter if the fish are fussy and the water is loaded with fire, 15 lb line is standard for my casting outfits, I use custom made lamiglass 6' rods and shimano 4500 baitrunners, where there is nothing to break off a fish on, the technique is simular, I troll the edges of sandbars and plug the eel into the surfline, on beachfront rock piles like we have at boars head, Ill use the electric motor to work the boat in and around the rock while i plug the eels into the bones. Handeling eels can be a PITA if your not used to it, some people accuse me of having studded vise grip hands, I dont , I've just had lots of practice. For the beginner, get a pair of buckets that fit into one another, drill 1/4" holes into the "insert"to let the water out and put in a bag of ice, dump your eels onto it,they will take a nap...until.. they hit the water, handel them with a coarse dry rag, I like the standard red shop towel. Some times eels like to "ball " up and knot your line, a sharp smack on water will take the fight out of them most of the time, sometime a good beating is in order, as long as that sucker curls his tail...he'll catch fish. when moving from place to place I like to lay down the rig to keep the little squirmer from balling up,on the otherhand if there is room I'll let 115 horses lay them out straight! a word of caution,check your leader often, when you break off a big fish is not the time to find a knot was in your leader Eels are under most circumstances are a nighttime bait, but, I too have done well with them during the day, mostly during the fall run,thats the great thing about bass....they dont read books on what they are supposed and not supposed to do!!!!! On the contrary, I remember being told that herring (live during the herring run) were only effective after the sun came up, I remember one june trip when my partner and i got all our herring by 3:30(AM), the rest of the crew went back to the camper to eat some breakfast and get a wink or two, we wanted to fish,long story short, we were out of bait when the rest of the crew came out, we begged a few livies from them, under the pretense that all ours had died (they did,the bass ate 'em!) were they P.O'd when the found out how many fish we got! Moral of the story, never limit yourself to one method or belief,fish dont read books, try something different even if it seems crazy,if I had a buck for every fish that I caught that wasnt supposed to be where it was or eat a certain bait or feed on a certain tide,I'd retire and go somwhere warm and find me a striper or two! There is much more to it than what I've put in here

From shore or boat, a live eel is your best ticket to a large night time bass.... for leaders, 18" is about as long as you want, anything longer than that is difficult to cast and not needed...Most people use hooks that are simply too big.. the bigger the hook the harder it is to set... a 4/0 Gamakatsu octopus style is a perfect size for all but the largest of snakes...

How you fish the eel depends on many factors, from water depth to tidal flow and the area of the water column where the fish are feeding, a weightless eel will find it's way to the bottom up to about 20' unless the tide is really ripping , once your tempter has reached the strike (desired) zone, if the tidal current is sufficient, the eel can be allowed to drift, maintaining a tight line to keep it out of trouble...

From a sandy beach, wade out and cast parallel to the beach, work the eel slowly along the beach shore or bar..

where offshore bars are prevalent, an eel tossed into the breakers and slowly worked back can often times draw savage strikes..

As far as handling eels, practice makes perfect... the less time spent on gimmicks the better, I rarely even use a rag, most often, I simply grab the little beast, jamb my thumb under it's jaw, thus rendering the eel limp.. it will return to life as soon as you relax your grip... it takes practice, the Roc stunner isn't mastered in one season...

For transport, I have a two bucket system, the "insert" is drilled to allow slime and water to drain, the bottom bucket catches the slime...

My eels are kept in a keeper on the dock, holes are drilled to permit water to pass through.. the jug is weighted to keep the water from heating up during periods of slack water....

I rarely fish during the day, yes, I have had very good sucess with eels during the day.. but the game is different...

Obviously, if the shore is loaded with mung, you cant fish the most productive area.... yes, when I'm in the boat, I fish the last curl of the wave... many a night, I have sneaked under lines of sleeping fisherman and taken fish inside the area they are covering...

On one particular night, two surfcasters had waded out to an outside bar at low tide, the cut behind them was about two feet deep, Imagine their surprise when they heard my drag scream BEHIND them....

First picture is of the Stunner being applied...

eel stunner

Second picture is of liner and bucket...

eel bucket

Third is the leader set up...18" of 30lb floro carbon, 280lb Kroc swivel



The next two are of the "keeper"... where unused eels get stored until the next trip..

eel bucket

eel bucket transfer

Q. why not circle hooks on the eels? would they work as well?

Circle hooks do work with eels,but not well IMHO, because of the nature of the hook, they have a nasty tendancy to end up back in the eel.... eels are the only bait I still use "J" hooks on, everything else I use circles..

Most of my fish are hooked in the roof of the mouth or in the jaw, I do not allow the fish to run with the bait, when I feel the hit I drop my rod tip, wait for the line to tighten and put the tongs to 'em....

In a few deep water ( over 60') rock piles, where in the heat of the summer I fish bass during the day when they are on large bait( and I have NO other choice), I will 3 way eels over the rips, in these instances, I do use a 6/0 circle hook, mainly because that deep, by the time you feel the fish they have the bait swallowed, even then a pecentage of those fish are dropped as in the process of turning the bait the eel finds some way to wrap itself around the hook and embed it into itself...

Lastly.. striper's love eels..


Tight lines Roc


Joe Brotz, Eel slinger for Striped Bass from James Waldron on Vimeo.

Rigging dead eels tutorial with pictures

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Slinging eels
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