The American eel, Anguilla rostrata, also known as the common or freshwater eel, can be found in a variety of habitats across an extensive geographic range. It probably has the broadest diversity of habitats of any fish species in the world. The American eel occurs in freshwater rivers and lakes, estuaries, coastal areas and open ocean from the southern tip of Greenland, along the Atlantic coast of North America, throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, to Venezuela, and inland in the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. The eel is an abundant resident of all tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay in its yellow eel phase. Before reaching this life-history phase, which comprises most of its life, the eel has undergone several physical and geographical changes
The life history of the American eel is complex and not fully understood. It is a catadromous species, which spends most of its life in rivers, lakes and estuaries, but migrates to the ocean to spawn.
The eel begins and ends its life in the waters of the Sargasso Sea, an area north of the Bahamas. The leptocephalus, a pelagic larvae of less than two inches in length, drifts with the ocean currents for 9 to12 months before entering coastal waters.
When it reaches approximately 2.4 inches in length, the leptocephalus metamorphoses into a transparent, "glass" eel.
In autumn the glass eels migrate into estuaries along the Atlantic coast, including Chesapeake Bay, where they become pigmented. These eels are known as elvers. Some elvers remain in the estuaries, but others migrate varying distances upstream, often for several hundred kilometers, overcoming seemingly impassible obstacles such as spillways, dams, falls and rapids. Now in their yellow eel phase, the American eels will remain in the brackish and fresh waters of these rivers for the majority of their lives for at least five and possibly as many as twenty years. The yellow eels are uniformly greenish-brown to yellowish-brown dorsally, and whitish-gray ventrally. Females reach a maximum length of five feet, and males grow as long as two feet. These residents of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries are nocturnally active omnivores, feeding on insects, mollusks, crustaceans, worms and other fish. Before beginning its life-ending migration back to the waters of the Sargasso Sea to spawn, the eel must undergo further profound physical changes. Just prior to the reproductive migration, the eel stops feeding, the eyes and pectoral fins enlarge, the visual pigments change and the body color pattern transforms. The sexually mature eel has a gray back, pure white belly, and a silvery bronze sheen on its flanks. The migration occurs throughout autumn nights with adults descending streams and rivers, swimming through deep grass and shallow ditches, for a January spawning in the warm Caribbean waters.
So lets see what striper mikes little science lesson did for you. Here is your QUIZ:
Every American eel ever caught in rivers, bays, and ponds in the Bay was hatched from an egg below the surface of the Sargasso Sea, southwest of Bermuda.
The answer is TRUE. Incredible as it may seem, ALL eels originate from this location and migrate to other parts of the world, including the Chesapeake Bay!!!!!!!!!!
In a typical sand bar fashion, the crabs kept invading the mackerel and I was kept busy rebaiting the chunking rod. Some tiny nibbles that I felt were stripers kept me going, but as we all know, surfcasting can be veryyyy unrewarding. This tide had Nada written all over it. I would go both barrels. I will use the limpy eel rod for a chunk now and hope that would up my odds for a fish.
Only because I am so fanatical, I actually slowly worked the eel in even though it had sat there for an hour......without the company of a striper! I kid you not, I hadn't moved the dead eel 5 feet when a nice fish put the brakes on my retrieve. I was hooked up..unbelievable!!!!!! A scrawny 34' striper gazed up at me from the sand after a spunky fight. and the washed out eel dangled from its mouth.
I wish I could have found the guy again......The eel Man.....cuz you know what, He was right...his eels did work!!
After countless hours from the beach, I have learned one thing and I hope you all learn it too........the absolute most that we can do is learn information about stripers and surfcasting, but one fact remains....we are humans and they are fish. Accept that. because, we will always be using guesswork and hope to bait our lines, while our quarry already knows what it wants. Accept your amateurism with humility....its part of surfcasting.....