Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to catch a conger eel

The conger eel is one of the largest  fish that the sea anglers is likely to encounter around the coastline. These extremely powerful and rugged fish have been known to grow to over 150 pounds, although most of these huge specimens have only been caught by commercial fishermen.
When I first began to fish for congers I was told by an older, more experienced angler that when an average conger was hooked and lifted clear from the bottom the fight would resemble holding the lead of a large dog which had just seen a cat:-) That statement was funny at that time but proved to be a pretty accurate description of a conger fight. It is almost impossible to overestimate the strength of a very large conger; there is no fish around the shore that is more capable of showing up a defect on your tackle than an enraged conger:-)

To fish for congers you need to use extremely strong tackle. Nothing under 50 pound class is of any use, and you haven’t got this type of gear then forget about fishing for congers.

Rule No.1 when fishing for congers: Never give a conger line once it has been hooked, because if it gets its tail wrapped around something there is no way of shifting it.
Your trace from the hook needs to be about 18 inches of nylon-covered braided wire of 40-50 pound breaking strain fishing line to a good quality swivel, then another 18 inches of 50-60 pound breaking strain monofilament fishing line to another good quality swivel. On the main line a small tube or sliding boom is needed to attach the weight. Then the main line is tied to the top swivel on the trace. Remember to attach  the weight  to the boom  via a paperclip or a light piece of line is a case the weight snags on the bottom. Traces longer than 3 feet can be problematic, if the tide is running strong  then a longer trace  will allow  the bait to lift off the bottom and when fishing for congers  the bait needs to be tight on the bottom. One hook is more than enough when fishing for congers.


Baits for conger seem to vary slightly  from place to place, but as general rule fresh mackerel or herring seem  to be the top baits. Other baits include poor cod, pounting, coalies and grey gurnard.

To get the best result from conger eel fishing make sure that your baits are as fresh as possible; congers will sometimes take a stale bait to a much lesser extent.

When you have baited up and let your trace go to the bottom, leave your reel on the ratchet. That way if you are not paying attention you will hear the first gentle bite, even though you may not have seen it. To strike st this stage would be a big mistake; congers will mouth their bait for a short time before they take it. My method of hooking a conger eel is as follows: after the ratchet clicks the first time I lift the rod gently and put  the reel in free spool. These soft gentle bites can happen several times so I wait until the line starts to move; then I put the reel in gear and strike twice and  take three or four turns  on the reel handle to get the conger eel lifted from off the bottom. The first few seconds are critical when you hook your conger. After you get it clear of the bottom the conger fights the whole way to the surface in a peculiar fashion, by shaking its head while swimming  in the figure of eight before twisting up and down on the line as it nears the surface.

Remind you to use a good quality fishing rod and reel:-) Conger eel is very strong:-)
I use extra heavy 7’ Lamiglas Big Fish Conventional Rod
and Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 7000i

Good luck.

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