First Eel by design - by Chris Mason

         I've been into my fishing since I could walk and have targeted almost every species apart from eels. I started off catching small roach and perch out my local canal (which I still haven’t had an eel from!), then went on to target tench, carp and pike. I had my first eel when fishing a lake down south, it was rammed with bootlaces and I couldn’t catch anything else on maggots! I wished I could remember where that lake was; there could be a few monsters in there now.

I didn't consider targeting eels until a year ago when a mate mentioned he'd been fishing for them and how well they fought..I thought surely a fish of around 3lb can't fight so hard, how wrong was I?! I loved the idea of fishing for the unknown and also for a fish that so many people hate! My dad still thinks I’m mad, but he fishes for bream!!

        I set myself the target of a 3lber for my first year and I planned my first session on a lake I had been fishing for carp. It’s a picturesque lake with plenty of snags, natural food, and masses of small fish, surely nice enough to stop any eel going back to the Sargasso!
I read as much as I could about the mysterious eel, and some of the articles on the site really got me buzzing for my first session. I mirrored the rigs I had seen on the site and modified my setup to accommodate the free running rigs I’d set up. Igot some weird looks from the carp boys with bricks on my spools as I hadn’t re-designed my swingers! I was ready to go.

        The weather was perfect on my first session and I managed to catch some baits within 10 minutes of turning up. The rods went out with worms on the deck, roach head on the deck and a dysoned roach head. Once I had settled into my swim I had a visit from a kingfisher that had recently nested on the lake, I thought a sure sign that I was going to catch!

         At 11 o’clock the roach head fished hard on the deck was away, I picked up the rod and I didn’t hesitate in striking straight away as the braid was been stripped from the spool. After reading peoples hook-up ratios I half expected to strike into thin air, but the rod doubled over and I had one of the strangest/best fights I’d ever had from a fish! When I managed to bring the fish over the weed bed under my rod tips it shot towards me and went straight over the spreader block! I managed to pull the net back under the fish and it swam backwards into the mesh of the net, phew! At 3lb 2oz I was well chuffed with the size of my first eel by design and I’d managed to achieve my goal on my first session! The only problem was there was nobody on the lake to take a graph! I managed a half decent self take though and slipped her straight back, I was buzzing! The rod went back out but I didn’t have anymore action that night.

Firsy Eel by design 3lb 2oz

          Naturally I upped my target to a 4lb fish, although I know how rare these old fish can be. My next session was 2 weeks away, and my mind was in overdrive thinking about eels! I only caught pike and perch on my next few sessions, but kept on going back. On 23rd September I was back on the bank again, and at 1am the worm rod was away, I lifted the rod and felt the braid slipping through my fingers, I knocked the bail alarm over and struck into thin air! The worms were fine so I flicked them back on the same spot and half an hour later the same rod was off again. I struck and felt a heavy writhing resistance on the end, the fish came to the surface and I could see it was a p.b. It went in the net without any dilemas and she went 4lb 2oz on the scales, I was over the moon! The fish was sacked up and my mate did the honours first thing the next morning.

          Another session on a new water and I lost a real good fish. The run came around 2 in the morning and I thought I was snagged until the clutch went into overdrive and the fish stripped about 20yards of line off the spool!! I played it to the edge where it dived down and wrapped itself around the bottom of a bulrush, my mate tried to pull the bulrush out but the hook slipped before he could do anything. I was gutted, the fish was only feet from the bank and it fought so much harder than the 4lber and I still can't help but think about the one that got away! Oh well, that’s fishing!

        It’s been having a dabble on a few waters including one that has reported to have done 7lb+ eels to matchmen, but we all know how different their scales are to ours! So far I’ve managed one eel of 3lb 7oz and the length of it was immense, it’s a shame it had no girth as it would have been huge!Sorry Mr Daphne, I wasn’t carrying a measuring tape at the time.

3lb 7oz

         My first fish-in was great, even though I can’t remember much from the first night,  I’m sure I’ll be reminded of what happened by The Mole! A tip for any new members would be: do not try to drink as much as The Brumsta! It was a great weekend had by all and I would encourage everybody to try and attend at least one.

        Since then I have managed to bag a new p.b. of 5lb 8oz on my first session on a new water. The fish took half a roach and put up a tremendous battle, it was like a giant tug of war. I’ll be back on the water soon, hoping for another monster..

          I hope I haven’t babbled too much, and would finally like to say thanks to all you guys for the useful advice on the forum and running a great club.

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Chris Mason

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