Eels are long slender fish that breed in the ocean. Young eels inhabit fresh waters and return to sea when mature. Young eels are used as bait fish to lure tuna and striped bass, while large eels are used as food, usually smoked. Eels are secretive and nocturnal. They can be caught in traps baited with earthworms, meat, blood or shellfish. Commercially designed traps are available, but you can build your own.
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Things you need
- 8-gauge wire
- 1/4-inch mesh wire, 4 feet long by 33 inches wide
- Wire-cutting pliers
- Nylon or plastic mesh or netting, 3 feet long by 32 inches wide
- Black marking pen
- Yardstick (optional)
- Heavy duty cotton
- Sewing machine (optional)
- Sewing pins
Cut four 36-inch pieces of no. 8 wire. Bend each piece into a circle. Overlap the ends and twist them together for 2 inches to secure each circle. With the 2-inch overlap, the resulting circles will be 32 inches around and have a diameter of about 10 inches.
Roll the wire mesh into a cylinder, overlapping the ends by 1/2 inch. Fasten the overlapping edges with pieces of no. 8 wire. The resulting tube should be 4 feet long and 32 inches around with a diameter of about 10 inches.
Attach one wire circle to one end of the tube with no. 8 wire. Put one of the remaining wire hoops into the tube, inserting it via the end without the hoop wired to it. Position the hoop 16 inches away from the end with the hoop wired to it and fasten it to the mesh tube using no. 8 wire. Insert another hoop into the tube and position it 16 inches from the hoop you just placed. Secure it to the mesh tube using no. 8 wire.
Lay out the piece of mesh or netting. Choose one of the narrow ends to be the bottom on the funnel and mark the midpoint of that edge. You can use a ruler, or simply fold the netting in half and mark the fold line. Once you have found the midpoint, measure 2 inches to each side of the midpoint. Mark those points using a marker.
Measure in 1/2 inch from each side of the other narrow end and mark those points with the marker. Use a pin to attach a piece of string to the farthest left of these marks. Extend the string down to the farthest-left mark on the bottom narrow end. Make sure the string is flat and drawn tight, and then use it to mark a straight line between the two marks. Repeat for the marks on the right side. The two lines show the stitching lines for your funnel. If you have a straight edge that is long enough, you can use that instead of the string.
Make two new marks at the bottom end that are 1/2 inch farther from the midpoint than the previous marks. Use these marks, the string and the marker to draw cutting lines 1/2 inch outside the stitching lines. The new lines should meet up with the corners of the netting at the top end.
Cut the netting along the cutting lines. Fold the funnel in half so that the two stitching lines lay on top of one another. Sew along the stitching line by hand, or use a sewing machine. Finish the top and bottom ends by turning the netting under 1/4 inch and sewing it down. Apply Fraycheck for 1/2 inch on the bottom edge. You now have a funnel 10 inches wide at the top and 4 inches wide at the bottom.
Fold the funnel's wide-end edge over the fourth wire circle. Sew it on with the needle and strong thread, or lace it on with string going through holes in the mesh. Space the stitches or lashings close together. When finished, tie off the thread or string securely.
Cut eight 2-foot pieces of string. Tie them at evenly spaced intervals around the narrow opening of the funnel.
Put the narrow end of the funnel into the wire-mesh cylinder, inserting it through the end that lacks a wire circle. Fit the wire circle that's on the wide end of the funnel to the end of the trap tube and wire it in place.
Cut a circle of wire mesh that is 11 inches in diameter. It may be easiest to place the trap tube on its end, place an 11-inch square of mesh over the top, and then trim it to be approximately 1 inch wider than the trap tube. Bend the edges of the 11-inch circle 90 degrees to make a lid that fits over the end of the trap.
Bring each of the eight pieces of string that are attached to the narrow end of the funnel through the wire mesh of the lid. Pull on the strings to stretch out the funnel inside the trap tube. Tie the strings tightly to the wire lid. Make sure the strings are evenly spaced so that the narrow end of the funnel is open for eels to swim through.
Tie rope to the ends of the eel trap to lower and raise it in the water. Customise the length of the rope to the conditions where you use the trap.
To bait the trap, remove the lid and put earthworms, meat, fish, blood or shellfish inside. Put the lid back on and tie it securely to the trap tube in several places.
Tips and warnings
- Suggested sources for mesh netting are mesh sacks from 11.3kg. bags of produce or dried products such as beans or animal feed. Mesh fabric meant for sewing into reusable shopping bags would also work, as would the plastic mesh meant for safety vests for highway workers.
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