This section is from the book "Frank Forrester's Fishermens' Guide", by Frank Forrester.
Every kind of eel is spawned in salt water, and the young ones generally begin to run up the fresh water streams as early as April, though when spring is backward they do not start until May. The young eel, when he begins his journey, is about the size of a Sadler's needle, and the way he works himself up over the cascades and mill-dams is very curious. He exhausts the atmosphere under his body, then lifting his tail, which is flat, over his head, repeats the operation, and raises his head another lift, and so on. In this way they ascend waterfalls and swift streams with great ease. The ground which they select for a rendezvous is still deep water, with a soft bottom. There are two kinds of the eel which frequent fresh water streams and ponds. The best and handsomest has a small head, with a tapering mouth - a beautiful white belly, and is pretty thick and fat in the middle in proportion to his size. This, in Connecticut river, is called the silver eel. Their flesh is light and of delicious flavor, unlike the flesh of the other kind, and when full grown are from two to three feet long. The other description of eel to which we have alluded has a large mouth, with the under jaw extending beyond the upper. His head is larger, and his tail broader and flatter, his belly of yellowish tinge, and his flesh of a bluish color, which requires a good deal of cooking to make it palatable. This kind is the most plentiful, and frequents stagnant muddy bottoms, while the "silver" species, though they like soft bottoms, yet prefer to be near running water. The eel breeds in the latter end of winter, and in no case does he deposite his spawn in ponds, lakes, or rivers.
In angling for eels, you use a flax line, which should be protected near the hook with gimp or wire. The eel hook is used, of a size according to the expected size of your fish. The line should be of & length suited to the depth of the water, with sinker attached, and almost any pole of convenient heft will answer. If you are fishing in fresh water, common angle-worms are good bait, though they will bite readily at shad-roe, pieces of fish, or at frogs, entrails of chickens, etc. In salt water, clams, bits of fish, shrimp, etc, are used. They are taken in salt water without a hook, as follows : Take some white horse hairs and work them into a kind of bag, which is filled with shad-roe or soft crab. In swallowing this bait the eel will entangle the horse-hairs in his teeth, and may be landed before he can get clear of them.
Bobbing for eels is done as follows: The bob is made by stringing a lot of angle-worms on a strong thread (stout worsted yarn or linen thread is the best) and winding the string into a ball on the end of your line, which is sunk by an appropriate sinker to the bottom. The eels will fasten themselves on this ball, and you can then carefully and slowly pull up the line, while they still retain their hold. After you get them to the top of the water, you may by a steady sudden jerk, land several at once. It requires some practice and expertness to do the thing cleverly. Some fishermen use a fine scoop net, instead of jerking out the eels in the manner described.
Pot-fishing for eels is a very simple process, and is practiced by those only who get a living by fishing. A long coarsely made circular basket is used, with ends like inverted cones. The basket is usually three or four and a half feet long, and seven or eight inches through. At the end of the cones, which run inward, are holes just big enough for the eel to squeeze through, and when he once gets in he is not apt to find his way out again. The basket is well baited with the entrails of fowls, or of fish, with bits of fish, or meat, shad-roes, or almost any offal. One end comes off to admit this bait. Weights sufficient to sink the basket close to the bottom should first be tied well inside so it will lay flat on its side, and strong cords fastened to it to enable you to lower it to the proper place, as well as to raise it when it is full of eels. Eel-traps like these will sometimes take several dozen at a time.
Spearing eels is another mode which fishermen employ to advantage. The spears are forced down in the mud where the eels have buried themselves, and in some places eels are taken in great abundance in this way. You can spear from a boat, or while wading in the water where it is shallow enough The eel spear has several flat prongs, and takes the eel as described in the engraved representation below. These spears can be purchased at the fishing-tackle stores, or an expert blacksmith can make them. The prongs are of steel.