Who am I?

My photo
An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!


Sunday, 3 January 2016

An open reply

My mate Mr Faulkner, who is author of the excellent http://lettersfromsheppey.blogspot.com/ ; and I have never met yet frequently converse about subjects, many and varied, via the comments facilities on a small circle of like-minded blogs. Derek doesn't appear to suffer fools (at all) and tends to say it as it is, or how he sees it. Might be why we share a lot of the same thoughts and opinions?
After my offering of yesterday, I awoke this morning to find this comment awaiting my approval. After reading it I thought "there's a post in this!" so cheers Derek for igniting the spark. I hope my explanation doesn't disappoint?
His comment reads as follows:- "I'm fascinated by the fact that you now appear to have become an avid eel fisher after slagging them off so much in the past"

Sorry chaps - I've used this image again, so soon, but I don't have too many to chose from!
My response - Up until October, of 2015, I had never intentionally sought to catch an eel by design, therefore all of my encounters were accidental captures whilst targeting other species. The fact that I have a PB of 7 lbs 1 oz (taken from a Somerset drain in the late 80's) and have been plagued by these slimy, tackle tangling "vermin" is all a side show from what I was doing at the time. Until early in 2015, I didn't realise the Red Data Book Status of the species - critically endangered. It was at that moment I thought about deliberately setting out to catch eels in the drains of East Kent and The Royal Military Canal. I hadn't got a clue how to go about my project, beyond a few dusty chapters in my ancient angling library. So to plan B - use the Internet and bingo! The National Anguilla Club has a fantastic website, full of up to date advice on the art of eel fishing. I remain slightly confused by the critically endangered banner -  they are still ridiculously plentiful in all the venues I have targeted. If, however, there is a change in water quality, this could easily impact, dramatically, on the situation and my chance would be lost.
So my desire to target the species is what has fuelled my quest for knowledge and, hence, seen a rise in the number of eel related posts on this blog. Just as with any other project I set my heart on, it's all or nothing. I have become fascinated by these fish and some of the myths surrounding their behaviour during the winter months. Correspondence with fellow anglers, who live in the northern counties, suggesting a very different scenario to the one I am faced with. Having been constantly troubled by the eels' unerring ability to home in on any soft fleshed baits (sardine and bluey being particularly so) whilst pike fishing, during the past five winters, leads me to push myself with a project to capture this species in every month of the pike season (October - March). With the local pike fishing being so mediocre, this particular challenge has all the ingredients to keep me motivated until I have reason to claim success or failure, and look for some other angling project. It is the learning process which I find most attractive - I certainly haven't developed a love for the eel, but have to admit that I am becoming increasingly intrigued by the techniques involved in their capture. Bait presentation and rig mechanics have always been central to all aspects of my big fish angling; this species deserves no less an approach and I'm loving it. - Dyl


  1. Well that explains all Dyl. and it's very encouraging to know that they remain plentiful at your end of the county. Here on Sheppey, where as you know, I did a lot of eel trapping in the 1970/80's, their numbers have plummeted.
    One of the reasons for their demise and now Red Data listing is the huge catches of elvers that has been taking place at river estuaries in recent years, thanks to TV chefs promoting a taste for eating the elvers.
    While I don't understand most of your fishing jargon I have been interested in your eel stories, being a fan of the slippery creature - keep it up.

    1. Cheers Derek - it was a nice, thought provoking, comment which set the ball rolling. Feel free to offer more as I'm struggling for original ideas at the moment! Dyl

  2. Back in the late 70's I fished the Royalty fishery with Gavin H. We had such a succession of bootlaces that Gav declared the bottom "must be paved" with them.
    Due to demand from someone back home, we collected these wrigglers and found ourselves 'gutting' these late into the night at Gav's temporary abode.
    Due to there being no waste bin in the house, we dealt with the entrails (7lb's of Eels worth) by opening the back door and hurling the results of our labours into the night. Job Done!

    1. Rich, during my time on The Royalty (with Fred Crouch & Chris Scott 1982-85 ish) I don't recall any problems with eels, although we were baiting heavily with maggots - bloody gallons of them! They were, however, a right pain on the Cambridgeshire Fens where we were pike and zander angling. At that time the guys in The Top of the World PH couldn't get enough - they used to jelly them, so all eels we caught came back to Hemel and were used as beer tokens! How times have changed? We actually used eel sections as zander baits because they were readily available and very durable on the hook. It was possible to get several bites on a single bait. Hoping all is going well down under? Dyl

  3. All the eels from my eel trapping days used to be kept alive in a large tank outside my back door with water flowing in and out on a continuous basis, until I had around a 100 lbs worth. We would then put them in dustbin bags and drive them to an eel pie shop in Bow, London where, even in the late 70's/early 80's the owner would pay us £1 a pound for them. He kept them alive in a tall stack of metal shelving with holes in the bottom of each shelf and water running through.

    1. Was that "Tubby Isaac's" Pie & Eel Shop? A lot of the Hemel lads used to go up there to get jellied eels - might have been the fish that you'd trapped?

  4. To be honest Dyl. I can't remember what the guy's name was.