American Eel (Anguilla rostrata)

American Eel (Anguilla rostrata)

American Eel
American Eel photo from VIMS

Also known as …

Description …

The American eel is slender and snakelike, covered in a mucous layer.  They do have minute scales despite the slimy feel and look.  There is a long dorsal fin that runs from the middle of the back and is continuous and the ventral fin is similar.  They do not have pelvic fins and very small pectoral fins near the midline.  They vary in color from olive green, brown shading to a greenish yellow that fades to light gray or white on the belly.  They will be lighter in color in clearer waters and darker in tannic or dark waters.  This eel lives in freshwater and estuaries, but migrates to the Atlantic ocean to spawn in the Sargasso Sea.  The eggs hatch into what are known as leptocephali, and then metamorphosis into glass eels and then make their way back to freshwater to grow into adults, they are known as yellow eels in early growth stages.


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Glass eel snagged on a spoon while fishing … released after picture

They are found all along the Atlantic coast,and river systems.  Over the years the damming of streams rivers and mill ponds has decreased their numbers.   They are used as bait for many fish species especially striped bass.  They are a food fish in some areas and even the glass eels are collected for sale in aquaculture projects, recently that has been highly restricted to help increase their numbers.  They are nocturnal hunters and rest during the day.  We find them a lot in minnow traps and crab pots, feeding on the bait.  Eels will eat just about anything and catching them is rather easy.  They feed on most aquatic organisms such as crustaceans, insects, small crabs, and all types of dead organic matter.

Delaware Creel Limit …  9 inches ..  25 eels …    no season



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Elver or Glass eel Lynne Larson found in the surf wash








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