The 64-year-old’s skill as a species detective has once again see him hit the jackpot after targeting a tiny 2.5 acre commercial pool and striking with the big eel his very first trip. Using perch deadbaits Des struck into the six-pounder as his very first fish from the venue, adding others of 2 lb, 3 lb 12 oz, 4 lb 1 oz and 4 lb 2 oz.
A lot of the popular beardsman’s success is down to good old fashioned watercraft: ‘I like to fish after a match,’ explained Des from Bewdley, Worcestershire, whose personal best eel is a mighty 7 lb 3 oz. ‘Imagine how stimulating that must be to a predator, all that constant vibration of hooked fish and splashing going on.
Strike after a match
‘There might only be a handful of eels in a venue but they are likely to be active after a match and believe me a hunting eel will cover every inch of the lake bed when they are looking for food, so the timing is more important than the actual places you present the baits, as long as they hit the water I’m happy,’ he joked.
The nature of the type of fishery he is targeting also has a fascinating influence on Des’ approach to big eels.
‘You can’t fish with worms of course because on such a well stocked fishery they’d be shredded within seconds of going in, but deadbaits can also bring problems,’ he explained. ‘Ordinarily I’d like to use a roach but perch are a better choice because they are a bit harder and carp are such a nuisance on softer deadbaits when you fish commercials.’
Can't avoid the carp!
It seems carp scavenging dead fish is a tactic adopted very widely that Des has seen on many venues: ‘You can’t avoid carp on the deadbaits, even on wire traces and 30 lb braid they keep running off with them,’ he said. ‘It happens on every commercial fishery I fish for eels. What is more interesting is that often the carp you catch are big for the venue and also in pristine condition as though they don’t get caught regularly like the others do.
‘The other problem is these sorts of fisheries often don’t allow night fishing, but I’d say to everyone don’t let that put you off, fish after a match and fish late afternoon and evening and the eels will be perfectly catchable.
Despite his success Des isn’t convinced his success will continue.
‘When eels get caught one of two things happens, and we can’t be too sure which, they either clear off somewhere else or become very difficult. Once you’ve hooked a few it’s so hard to get more takes and there are generally so few big eels in a venue that when you hook two or three the first night you’ve had the majority of them.
‘I’m glad the research paid off though, I felt sure the venue could do something 6-7 lb, but it’s a young water and not old enough to do a huge 8-9 lb eel or a double because there wasn’t any water there before,’ explained Des who estimated his latest big eel at 25-27 years old the same as the venue itself.