The Eel Is The Deal
Bay and inlet, and also out front in the shallower reaches, the eel is the deal when it comes to getting a striper to inhale a favorite prey.
Inlet jetties, sedge banks, and channel edges in the bays, and also the lower reaches of tidal flows such as the Mullica River, are prime locations to intercept transient bass with utilizing the eel ordnance. While eels are used with some success along the beaches and out front, it’s the aforementioned areas where this bait shines when it comes to catching stripers.
Should you have an eel trap, bait can still be caught in lagoons and ditches. However, it’s chancy as the eels are here one tide and gone the next, and at this time of the year, they might not show in that particular area again. If you happen to have a private supplier, all the better. However, with time at a premium, it’s oftentimes best to bite the hook and pay for the slimers at a bait and tackle shop that has them swimming and writhing in a tank(s).
Prices will vary, with current costs ranging from $1.75 to $2-plus per bait. Prices might go up, as it’s basically a supply and demand eel deal. South Jersey shops that are carrying this striper snipr include Hands Too (Cape May), Sea Isle Bait & Tackle (Sea Isle), Fin-Atics Marine Supply (Ocean City), Absecon Bay Sportsman Center (Absecon), and Creekside Outfitters (Waretown).
In order to avoid “eel balling” we calm them down by keeping them in an empty bucket that also houses a frozen water bottle or two. A whack to the tail also helps alleviate the knotting. The standard presentation is the hook through the lower jaw and out one eye socket, the ballast being an egg sinker.
Remember, when using bait for bass, an inline circle hook is the law.
Brand new on the scene (it’s being introduced in select tackle shops as you read this) is the “Circle Jerk” jig head introduced by S&S Bucktails based in Manchester, NJ (see photo). Armed with a super-sharp Owner hook on a high-quality lead head, it adds a new dimension to the eel presentation. It’s available in ½, ¾, 1, and 1-1/2 ounce sizes in pearl, chartreuse, and plain.
Says S&S founder Stan Gola, “I received a call from a tackle shop owner in Cape May County who had an idea for something different when it came to fishing eels for bass. We had a few discussions and after some trial and error, the Circle Jerk was finalized and production started. We’re working overtime getting it out there. It represents a new approach to fishing for stripers with eels.”