By Dan Beard
Figs. 96, 97, & 98: How to Hold and Skin an Eel;
Fig. 100: Eel Pot;
Fig. 101: Eel Jack for Spearing at Night
Salt pork, cut in small chunks, bits of fresh meat, and the refuse of fish
already caught, form tempting bait for eels, catfish, and other bottom fish.
How to Pick Up a Live Eel
To pick up a live eel grasp its throat between your hooked first and second
finger, the rest of your fist being doubled up (See Fig. 96). If there is a dry,
sandy, or dusty spot near at hand, toss the eel into it, and again pick him up.
This time, on account of the dust or sand, you will find it much less difficult
to hold him.
How to Skin Him
After picking him up, throw him down on the ground with all your force. This
will stun the animal, and you may take a sharp knife and make a circular cut
below the first or pectoral fins (Fig. 97). Then with the fingernails, peel the
skin back until can get a good hold of it with your hands, which you have
previously covered with dust.
Now take hold of the head with one hand, and strip the skin back with the
other hand as shown in the third position (Fig. 98).
The Eel-Tail Bait
When you have skinned the eel to a point about three or four inches above the
tail, cut the tail off with a sharp knife , but leave it adhering to the skin.
Turn back the skin still further, and cut off the turned-over portion of the
skin about half way down. A sharp pair of scissors will be best for this
Now take your fishhook and run it through the flesh of the eel until the
point of the hook protrudes at a point between one and two inches from the tip
of the tail. The sinker, a split buck-shot, should be fastened to the snell just
above the hook and the skin must now be turned back above and cover the sinker.
Here it must be tightly tied with waxed silk thread or fine twine. Now turn the skin down again so that it
comes about halfway between the gathered end of the skin at the top and the
point of the hook at the bottom. With a needle and some strong, well-waxed
thread sew the edge of the skin to the body bait. You understand, of course,
that the point where you cut the body of the eel off depends altogether upon the
size of the eel used
The eel-tail bait is tough, and will last a long time. It has a beautiful
bluish color that pleases the fish, and in trolling or casting the free end of
the tail wiggles in so tempting a manner that it makes a very killing bait.
How to Keep Eels for Bait
Put them away in jars of coarse salt. In using salted eels for bait it is
best to soak them for an hour or so in fresh water. This will make them plumper
and improve the color.