American Eel

AMERICAN EEL (Anguilla rostrata)

OTHER NAMES: Common Eel

RANGE: Most, if not all, coastal streams of Florida, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Jamaica. A few wander far inland to tributaries, and even make it into lakes. The Eel is one of the most widely distributed of all fishes, spawning in a common ground at sea and then returning to coastal waters.

The American eel is a member of the order of bony fishes called Anguilliformes and is also called Atlantic eel common eel, silver eel, yellow-bellied eel, freshwater eel, bronze eel, water snake and whip.

There is a single gill opening just in front of the pectoral fins. It has no pelvic fins and the soft-rayed dorsal and anal fins are continuous with the caudal fin. A lateral line is present. The colour changes as they mature and there are different names for the various stages.

Glass eels are the young larval stage called leptocephalus. Their bodies are transparent with a distinct black eye and are shaped like willow leaves.
Elvers are eels in the stage where they are adapting to fresh water. They are darker in colour ranging from grey to greenish brown.
Yellow eels are adults in freshwater. Their colour varies from yellowish to olive- brown and are dark on the back and lighter on the belly.
Silver eels are sexually mature eels which darken to a bronze black hue on the back and are silver on the belly.
There is a single gill opening just in front of the pectoral fins. It has no pelvic fins and the soft-rayed dorsal and anal fins are continuous with the caudal fin. A lateral line is present. The colour changes as they mature and there are different names for the various stages.
Glass eels are the young larval stage called leptocephalus. Their bodies are transparent with a distinct black eye and are shaped like willow leaves.
Elvers are eels in the stage where they are adapting to fresh water. They are darker in colour ranging from grey to greenish brown.
Yellow eels are adults in freshwater. Their colour varies from yellowish to olive- brown and are dark on the back and lighter on the belly.
Silver eels are sexually mature eels which darken to a bronze black hue on the back and are silver on the belly.

HABITAT: Hides during the day under rocks or logs. Forages at night, which is why few are caught by anglers.

DESCRIPTION: Snakelike body with pointed head. Small pectoral fin. Dorsal, caudal and anal fins are combined into one long fin. Dark gray to olive above, yellowish or white on underside. The American eel is a member of the order of bony fishes called Anguilliformes and is also called Atlantic eel common eel, silver eel, yellow-bellied eel, freshwater eel, bronze eel, water snake and whip.

SIZE: About 2 feet on average; sometimes to 3 or 4 feet. World record 9 pounds, 4 ounces.

FOOD VALUE: Prized by some; difficult to clean.

GAME QUALITIES: Not much.

TACKLE AND BAITS: Caught mostly on trotlines, or by bottom-fishing at night with worms or catfish baits.

FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing.

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