Conger Eel Fishing
Conger Eel Fishing
Conger Eel (Conger conger)
- Size 1-3 meters
- Food Value Excellent
- Game Qualities Good
- Habitats Offshore, Reef, Wreck
A variety of Eels belong to the Conger genus, including the largest species on the planet. Most of the time, recreational anglers catch European Conger and American Conger Eels, two saltwater species which inhabit these areas of the world.
European Conger Eel (Conger conger) is the largest of all species, capable of reaching over 3 m (10’) in length. Most European Congers measure around 1.5 m long (5’), while American Congers don’t grow much larger than 2 m (6½’).
Where and When
European Conger Eels are native to the northeast Atlantic, from Norway and Iceland to Senegal (including the Mediterranean and Black Seas). Anglers frequently catch this species around the British Isles and in the Mediterranean.
American Congers are found in the western Atlantic, mainly from Cape Cod, MA to Florida and the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Conger Eels make themselves at home in cozy nooks and crannies, usually in rocky areas and shipwrecks. Close to shore, they often hide around structure like piers, jetties, and breakwaters.
Anglers catch Congers year-round, but you’re more likely to catch big Eels inshore during warmer months. The best time to target large European Congers is between June and October.
European Conger Eel caught in Vrsar, Croatia
How to Fish
Conger Eels are known to put up a good fight, made all the more impressive when they reach large sizes. Catching them is tricky: they pop out of the wreck to take a bite, then recede again, leaving a small window of opportunity to pull them to the surface. Once hooked, they fight ferociously. This makes them a highly rated catch, especially for anglers who spend their time fishing offshore wrecks. You can catch these Eels by bottom fishing with live or dead whole fish, such as whiting or mackerel. Once you land your catch, be sure to have your wits about you: these Eels have a nasty bite!
Good to Eat?
Conger Eel is superb table fare, though many people are off-put by its appearance and the fact that, well, it’s an Eel. Those who are in on the secret will tell you it’s worth giving this delicacy a try, including renowned chef Gordon Ramsay. Conger flesh is firm and meaty, with a resemblance to pork. Common recipes include grilled, pan-fried, casseroled, and jellied Eel. If it’s good enough for Chef Ramsay, what has an adventurous angler got to lose?