Eel fishing in the Summertime is something I have always enjoyed on those hot, muggy nights as long as I can remember. Actually don`t know very many guys that still do it…….. but I had the pleasure of doing it with a very special person last weekend…..my younger Brother Keith.
We talked about doing it a week ago and he was pretty excited to have a go at it, as we hadn`t fished together in probably over twenty five years. So we made plans to get together that night and hit the “Musky” below Point Mountain near Changewater. I told him that I`d have all the gear, rigs, lantern and bait for our Saturday night excursion on the river.
Well that afternoon around 4 o`clock I set out to wrangle up some bait at a local pond. As I pulled in and saw four fellas fishing……. and had an idea. Figured I`d use my “Bilingual” capabilities to get them to help me out a bit. These gentlemen were of the spanish persuasion. With that I swung open the door to my truck and said, “Hola hombres!” which two replied “Hola” – And with that I quickly went for my phone to translate;
Struggling to pronounce the words correctly, three of them started laughing! Then one spoke up and said, “Hey buddy I can speak english” – with that we all started laughing and they gladly helped me. In about twenty minutes, I loaded my bait bucket back in my truck and gave them a few extra bobbers, hooks and the rest of my worms. Then I shook their hands, jumped in my truck and said “Gracias amigos!”(ok ok….so I suck at spanish!)
Around 7:30 Keith and I made our way to the river. As I drove we were joking and he asked me, “Hey is the moon out tonight? I said, “Ya know….. I never looked! Ohhhhhhhhhh nooooooo! – See we grew up eel fishing and anyone that knows much about fishing for eels, knows that it generally is a wash-out if a bright moon shows up. You might catch a couple if it comes up later though. But for the most part a full moon and eel fishing are like oil and water……. they don`t mix. “Ahhhhhhhh….. we`re on our way so let`s go have some fun anyways”, I chimed in.
The thing is with eel fishing, they generally don`t feed all night(hence is why we “Gigged” eels many many years ago…… but don`t ask about that. That was a long long time ago.) so we figured we`d fish until 10:30 or so.
It was really good to be fishing with Keith again after all these years.
I guess it was right around dark, about 9pm, after my pole got jarred hard on the rock, that I landed the first river serpent of the night. And a nice one at that!
Then Keith had a real nice wirely eel on……. got it to the bank and it jumped off on land and quickly wiggled and dove back into the dark waters of the Musonetcong. I said laughingly, “Hey…. that`s why it`s called fishin` and not catchin!”
He re-baited and in a matter of ten minutes, had a monster on…..
His line shot directly up river as he reeled back to set the hook! He said, “I think I have your line” – I replied, “No ya don`t…..my line is out of the water!” – and with that the beast of an eel thrashed on top of the water!
“Holy cow!….You`ve got a monster buddy!” I said.
He dragged the serpent on shore and I quickly dispatched the monster with my knife. Keith couldn`t believe it, “Wow….that is the biggest eel I ever caught!” he said as I took a few pics.
Right around 10:30 we called it a night as the bite had pretty much subsided. And as we drove back over Point Mountain Keith said, “Well I`ll be damn…..look. It`s a full moon!” – I said, “Ya know what? Sharon and I ran into the exact same situation in the same spot a few years ago. And I totally forgot. It`s because the mountain top blocks the water until later in the night. And when that `ol moon peeks over the hill, fishin` shuts off completely”
We ended up with only three really nice-size eels(and one jumped back in remember?) but what a good time we had.
I threw them on ice for the night and went back down to the river the next morning to clean them. If you`d like
to learn how to clean an eel, watch this clip I shot a few years ago;
My plan was to try something new with my river serpents……. They were headin` for my Smoker! Had smoked eel when I was a kid and wanted to see if I could do it. After I cleaned them up, I rubbed them in sea salt and brown sugar. Then let them set for about twenty minutes before putting them in the Smoker.
So this was pretty much trial and error……but hey that`s how ya learn right? I fired up the Smoker to 190 degrees and used apple wood chips. I only cut up half of them in case my “Smoking venture” didn`t turn out all that well. Figured Sharon could fry up the other batch for me and the bears could eat whatever I messed up smoking! HaHa!
I smoked the eels for an hour and a half and kept an eye on them as they turned a nice golden hue. Now because they`re a sort of fatty/oily fish(but they do not really have a fishy taste), I thought they would turn out great………