Freshwater Fish: American Eel

American Eel

Anguilla rostrata
AKA: Freshwater eel

Eels can be a great catch for anglers, but are not a particularly popular catch. There are nearly 400 different types of eels.

  • Identifying Markings:

The American eel has a slim snakelike body with extremely little scales, often making it appear naked. A long dorsal fin generally extends for more than half the length of the body and is continuous with a comparable ventral fin. Pelvic fins are missing. The back might be olive-green to brown shading to greenish-yellow on the sides and light gray or white on the belly.

  • Size:

Female eels grow bigger than the males, almost three feet, although some have actually been reported to reach 5 feet. Male eels do not grow longer than 1.5 feet. The world record is 9.25 pounds.

  • Distribution:

The American eel occurs in a variety of habitats from Greenland to Brazil and probably covers a broader range of latitudes than other species in The United States and Canada. American eels occur profusely in the Mississippi’s tributaries, including the Minnesota, Saint Lawrence Seaway, Saint Croix rivers, and often in Lake Superior. Freshwater Females Eels swim all the way up the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico to reach Minnesota for recreation. They range as far west as New Mexico, and prevail throughout the Caribbean and the West Indies.

  • Environment:

When eels are not moving, it is easy to find them in medium to plus size lakes and streams with quiet waters and muddy bottoms. Eels are more active at night, so they require the mud or underwater challenge be hidden during the day.

  • Food:

Freshwater American eels are predators that feed during the night, normally on all types of meat consisting of insects, frogs, crayfish, snails, fish, and earthworms.

  • Generating:

Adult eels invest most of their lives in freshwater, although they generate during the winter season in the Sargasso Sea, a tropical area northeast of Cuba. At some point, grownups leave their freshwater environments and approach the Sargasso Sea. Neither grownups nor eggs have actually been gathered in the vicinity of the Sargasso Sea, but freshly hatched eels are discovered there. Young eels are transparent and leaf shaped. Within about a year, growing and moving toward the mainland, eels transform into more eel-like forms, about six inches long, called glass eels or elvers and are ready to get in freshwater. They begin to establish coloration as they reach nearshore areas, and, once they reach freshwater, women continue to move deep inland as far up rivers and tributaries as they can. Males stay much closer to coastline areas.

American eels are long lived; captive eels have been reported to live as long as 88 years. In the wild, the is no evidence of the length of time freshwater eels live, however women invest from 10 to Twenty Years in the American rivers to grow and after that they return to the oceans or die after breeding once.

  • Fishing Tips:

In the eastern United States, the American eels are gathered commercially. Lots of anglers resent the snake-like appearance of eels and the prodigious quantities of slime they produce when captured. Many eels are captured by anglers fishing for something else.