Fourteen Eels

Contributed by Donald Walker (copyright)

Another holiday story from my creel comes from the many holidays my wife and I spent in Scotland in our younger days. Looking back though, I don't know why we bothered for it always seemed to rain when we were there. More recently I think it's changed, the trend to warmer dryer summers. This particular visit we went touring. Camping indeed. We had hired a tent and what a performance the first time we put it up. We didn't get a chance to practice at home. The instructions were subject to many interpretations, however, we managed to sort it out and practice makes perfect.

The area we toured was Fort William and down the Mull of Kintyre. We loved the district and without a doubt the fishing is excellent. My tale then, from this area, was our visit to Crinan. It is situated on the seaward end of the Crinan Canal, a waterway connecting the Atlantic with Loch Fyne. We arrived at Crinan towards lunchtime and walked about the village and the canal dock basin. The basin, which is a sort of holding area for boats, and is the last lock before the sea. We noticed a really splendid yacht moored alongside called the Bloodhound, and others who were looking at it said it belonged to the Duke of Edinburgh. I wonder if he was on board? This is a tranquil spot especially for people with boats.

A little further round the basin we came to the first lock into the canal. I was just idly considering its potential for fishing, when I noticed a movement in the water. Someone had thrown some whole slices of bread into the lock and as I watched, a large mouth rose up from the depths and took a whole slice below. Now this had fishing potential, and I was soon hot-footing back to the car to get my fishing rod, things were looking good.

I had Mussle bait with me, collected the previous day on the shores of Loch Fyne. I thought I'd start with that. Do you know, out of twenty mussles I opened I found 5 pearls, funny misshaped things, but pearls non the less. So here goes, I lowered the bait down to the bottom and waited, not long mind you, a slight dip on the end of my rod, and I struck immediately. I soon realized I had a large fish on. It strongly resisted my efforts to land it and although I didn't time it, I'd bet it was five minutes before I saw the fish. It was an eel, with a huge fin right down its full length. I judged its weight to be about four pounds before I let it go. Another thirteen of these eels fell to my rod in a very short time, and I gave a couple away to a cockney fellow who said he loved jellied eels. The worst thing about catching eels is removing the hook. These fish are extremely strong, they will not lay still whilst you unhook them, and they are so slimy you just cannot hold them. I lost my grip on one of them and tried to put my foot on it. Well it coiled itself round my leg and lots of slime from its body was deposited on my trousers. That slime never washed out and I had to throw them away. Ah the joys of fishing.

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