Dictionary of Fish : Fish Directory - reference guide to American eel

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American eel
Anquilla rostrata

Facts about American eel

IDENTIFICATION: American eels are brownish in color with a slender snake-like body and a small pointed head. The dorsal fin is long, extending more than half the length of the body and joins the tail and anal fins. They have short rounded pectoral fins and no pelvic fins. The mouth has numerous small teeth. Adult eels are very muscular, slimy and difficult to hold.

RANGE AND HABITAT: The American eel may be found at times in any stream in Ohio and in Lake Erie. They occur most often in moderate or large rivers with continuous flow and moderately clear water.

LIFE HISTORY: Adult American eels migrate to the Sargasso Sea, a calm area in the southeast section of the Atlantic Ocean, to spawn and then probably die. After hatching, young eels migrate toward North America and enter freshwater systems to mature. Male eels remain near river mouths or in brackish water, but the females migrate upriver until they run into an impassable object. While in fresh water, eels are secretive and hide in deep pools around cover and then feed during the night. Adult eels primarily eat fish or crayfish, but will feed upon anything they find. Females spend between 5 and 20 years in freshwater.

ADULT SIZE: Male eels grow to about 18 inches, but females can reach up to 52 inches in length.

FISHING METHODS: American eels are usually caught incidentally while fishing in rivers for other species of fish. Most are caught at night on small, live or dead fish bait. Anglers using trotlines in rivers occasionally catch eels.

Source: courtesy Ohio DNR


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