Conger Eels have a tough reputation, there are always stories about the 200lb monster that haunts a local wreck or someone who has had their hand / foot (insert body part here), bitten off by one. In truth, there can be very big eels on some wrecks, and they can be aggressive, but a bit like a pike they aren’t going to bite your hand off unless you are particularly stupid.

I confess that I haven’t done much wreck conger fishing, simply because there isn’t many where I usually fish on the Bristol Channel. I have done quite a bit of shore fishing for them in the past and spent quite a lot of time down on Devil’s Point in Plymouth trying to catch a monster from the shore which never materialised. I’ve caught them to over 20lbs from the shore at various locations, but in most areas a conger over 20lbs is not a common sight and you need to get a bit deeper to pick the bigger ones up.

In the boat on the Channel, in most cases you find the congers over broken ground, which means, areas where there are rocks and debris on the bottom, rather than the usual mud and sand you would fish over for Rays etc. However, as they like this type of ground, it doesn’t mean that you won’t catch them anywhere, as sometimes they just turn up, this is especially true on low water neap tides when I think they go on the hunt more and will follow a scent trail a long way.


This “hunting” behaviour is a key point in catching an outsized one on the channel as from my experience you will nearly always pick a better one up just as the tide changes if you can leave a bait out there long enough.

Getting a bait out in the tide long enough and keeping it “smelly” enough is a trick in its own right. Most of the time you must combat bait robbing dog fish and such like. Even big baits don’t last long in the channel. One bait that I used a lot down on Devils was Cuttlefish for this exact same reason. It’s a bit like Squid, but a lot tougher, we used it to prevent crabs pulling the bait apart, but on the channel it is a good way to keep the “Doggies” off.

Cuttle is good enough on its own, but for maximum attraction you can wrap Mackerel in in to give it a greater “fishy” scent trail. I don’t go overboard with the rigs, you don’t need wire for instance, most of my fishing is done with a simple 100lb nylon trace, down to 4/0 or 5/0 Big Mouth Xtra Hooks.


For Up-Tiding I always fish long pully rig for them, so that the bait is right down on the deck. Down-Tiding is probably easier, but I do like a spread of baits to create a good scent cone for them to home in on, which usually means fishing two Up-Tide and a Down-tide rod lobbed out the back. The Up-Tide rods will have the Cuttle on, and the Down-tide rod I fish with Mackerel, this is the one that the “Doggies” will pull apart and this will actually help by putting fish particulate in the tide. The Down-tide rod is quick and easy to rebait, so in essence its like a big swim-feeder for the Eels, who then move up the scent cone in the tide and will hopefully pick the Cuttlefish up.


Congers do scrap hard when you get them, but they don’t catch the tide as much as Rays do which is a good thing. The only time they can be a pain is when if they wrap up, then you end up pulling a ball of writhing muscle up against the tide! Netting them is fairly simple, you simply pull them alongside the boat where they stretch out in the tide and place the net at the back of their tail and then slacken off and they nearly always drop in.


The tricky part when it comes to Congers, is how to hold them for photos as they are quite simply – as slippery as an Eel! Most anglers will pick them up by the Gill holes and dangle them, I can’t say if this is good for the fish or not, but I assume it is not – so I prefer to pick them up as you would a normal Eel, i.e. length ways and support them. This is possible to do once they have calmed down a bit. If you haven’t caught them before a point to note, is they are really slimy though a lot like catfish are, and the slime will stick to you like bream glue so be aware of that and in most instances wear something old or something waterproof which you can wash it off easily.