Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Round Valley Reservoir's Eels

Doing my Round Valley Trout Association homework today as a member of the executive board, I thought I would do a short post on eels, since they were a favorite to catch in Little Shabakunk Creek as a boy; I attempted to harvest them commercially from the bays behind Long Beach Island (they're delicious, had eel Sushi on Sunday), and the eel situation at Round Valley Reservoir is compelling, as the information quoted below from the March 2017 Round Valley Reservoir Fisheries Management Plan suggests. The current New Jersey state record eel came from the reservoir.
Fred Matero has spoken to me on a couple of occasions about using a flashlight at night near the main launch ramp to sight huge eels. Some years ago, I happened to relax on one of the main launch docks while fishing trout on bottom, reading Tom Horton's Chesapeake Bay. I posted about that experience in this blog, relating how coming upon an unexpected chapter on eels and reading it most interested me. Horton writes in that chapter about Aristotle's attempt to determine how eels spawn, which Aristotle discloses as a failure. He couldn't. The Sargasso Sea was a long way from Greece. To the best of my knowledge, both American and European eels spawn there.

By Chris Smith, Principal Fisheries Biologist & Shawn Crouse, Principal Fisheries Biologist:
Approximately 12 American Eels were observed during night-time electrofishing.  They were found along the dams, from approximately 5-15 ft. of water, using rip-rap as cover.  The largest individual weighed 3.1 kg (6.8 lbs.) and was approximately 1,000 mm (39.3 in) in length, just one ounce less than the current state record.  It is estimated that most of the eels observed were 5-6 lbs.  It is assumed that American Eels are pumped into the reservoir from the South Branch of the Raritan River as juveniles.  The pump intakes are fitted with 3/8-inch screen, large enough to allow migrating glass eels (elvers) through.  As a result, they are basically trapped, unable to make their outmigration to the Sargasso Sea to spawn, and thus attaining such a large size.

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