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Eeling for Striped Bass

Posted: 03.03.2016

fishing with eels

kayak fishing for Striped Bass using live eels is almost always effective.

Fishing Live Eels From Your Kayak
by Mike Baker

It doesn't matter if it's day or night - kayak fishing for Striped Bass using live eels is almost always effective. The slime covered serpents can be hard to deal with from near impossible to hold, to knotting themselves into the dreaded eel knot around your line. But when presented to the Striped Bass correctly they are almost never ignored. I want to share with you what techniques I use to make them more manageable and how I fish them.

First off, I trap my own eels using fresh caught mackerel placed inside a basic minnow trap. It's important to put the bait in a chum bag so that it does not get eaten by the eels, it just attracts them. If the bait gets eaten you will catch far less. Usually dusk till dawn eels are most active in any tidal river. Use a cooler to transport them short distances - any longer periods of time I suggest 2 five gallon buckets stacked inside one another with holes drilled into the bottom of the top bucket to let the slime sink and prevent them from drowning in the slime. You'll need air pumps and a larger container to store them longer. Change the water once a day if your aren't filtering it. As always, check your local laws about trapping and keeping eels.

When fishing, I keep the eels in a chum bag inside a small cooler filled with crushed ice. The ice makes the eels lethargic and manageable, by keeping the eels in the chum bag you can use the texture of the bag to get a grip and slide just the head out of the bag. When rigging the eel, place the hook through the lower jaw ad out an eye socket. If it squirms you only drop it back into the bag and not off the kayak or through a scupper hole. 

My approach is to troll them in tidal rivers during the day and beach fronts at night keeping them 30 to 60 feet behind me at 1 to 1.5 mph. Try not to let the eel swim into structure on his own, keep some tension on it at all times if you can.    I use Adrenaline custom rods and  a conventional style Avet reel set to free spool and with a bait clicker engaged so when the fish strikes it feels no resistance and makes a solid run before I set the hook. I use 50 lb power pro and 50 lb mono or fluorocarbon, length depending on the structure. If fishing rocky structure use a longer leader to avoid bigger fish running your braid through the rocks which is much less abrasion resistant than mono or fluro.

Hopefully this is helpful and thank you for reading.  If you have any questions please feel free to message me at  or Kayak Fish New England on FaceBook.    

Mike Baker 
Pro Staff | Wilderness Systems Kayaks