When headed out kayak fishing for striped bass, using live eels day or night 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. When presented to a striped bass correctly they are almost never ignored. Hear are a few tricks I’ve learned to make them more manageable and how I fish them more effectively.
Catch Your Own Eels
First off, I trap my own eels (check local laws in your area) using fresh caught mackerel placed inside a basic minnow trap, put the bait into a chum bag so that it does not get eaten by the eels 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.
To transport them short distances a cooler will work , 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. Air pumps and larger container to store them longer. Change water once a day if not filtered.
Ice Makes Eels Nice(r)
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 and place the hook through the lower jaw and 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. Using a soaked rag can also help grip the eels if they’re in a bucket instead of a bag.
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.
Get The Right Gear
I use an Adrenaline Custom Rod with a conventional style Avet reel set to free spool and with the bait clicker engaged. That way when the fish strikes it feels no resistance and makes a solid run before I set the hook. I use 50 lb Power Pro braid with a 50 lb mono or fluorocarbon leader, 5 ft long. If fishing rocky structure I use a longer leader to avoid bigger fish running your braid through the rocks.