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July 08, 2010

5 Winning Eel Tactics

Stripers love live eels; here are five ways to fish them.

Joe Mahler /

2. Shallow Drift  
From the Shrewsbury Rocks along the north Jersey coast to the rock fields and cuts between the Elizabeth Islands in Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay, this technique works great wherever the water is relatively shallow and you're using a boat to work specific underwater structure. When you locate bass on the depth finder, put the engine in neutral to determine the prevailing drift. Then motor back around the structure, and position the boat so you drift back over the structure with the engine off, trailing your eel close to the bottom, where the bass are holding.

A plugging outfit works best. Keep the reel in free-spool and your thumb on the line. When a bass picks up, let it go for a count of three, put the reel in gear and pick up the slack if the bass hasn't already done that for you. The circle hook will do the rest. If the water is shallow, 20 feet or less, don't use any lead; the eel will swim down by itself. If the water is deeper or the drift fast enough to make it hard to keep the eel down, add an egg or rubber-core sinker just above the barrel swivel. Use as little weight as possible. This technique requires you to hunt for those spots where the bass are either feeding or holding, but once you find them, the fishing will be fast and furious.