Ashley Hayden of

Conger eels have both reputation and attitude most of it I believe misplaced, in my experience having caught conger up to thirty pound they are not fearsome or difficult to catch but are just awkward when hooked. Yes, one has to be careful of their powerful jaws, and they corkscrew and thrash on the surface if one is indecisive during the landing phase, but once aboard or on land a wet sack thrown over the head so covering their eyes calms them down. Shore fishing piers or rock marks tends to produce straps up to 10.lbs with an odd bigger fish, nothing to be sniffed at and well worth the effort. An excellent area to target conger is the Beara Peninsula, West Cork, and David “conger king” Murphy didn’t let the opportunity go astray last weekend.

Fishing a rising evening tide from a small pier David used a twenty pound class boat rod matched with an ABU 7000. Ledgering a pennell rigged whole mackerel scored along the belly a few times to release juices his first run produced a very greedy bull huss. Re baiting, shortly afterwards a more purposeful bite developed, gently at first as they do, just a light knocking on the rod top, then the staccato zzzzz, zzzzz, zzzzz to which David engaged his reel leaning and lifting all in one go, cue brute force and ignorance.


Immediately on hooking it is essential to get the upper hand and lift the eel away from the bottom and any possible obstruction or crevice that the fish can get its tail around or body into, should either of those situations occur the fight invariably is over. On this occasion luck prevailed and David after a short fight lifted an angry conger onto the quay.


Conger fishing in daylight works well on the Beara also due mainly to the depth of water close in, most rock marks giving access to 40 – 60 foot of water, some going 80 foot plus so its dusk all day. Again you could hit a monster it really is the luck of the draw. An annoying feature of this fishing though is the amount of developing bites which on striking go solid resulting eventually in a lost trace and no fish. In these instances the bait has landed beside an eel which is still in its lair, subsequently it just reaches out and grabs the bait while saying “thanks very much you won’t catch me“. Persevere though utilising rotten bottom rigs and spark plugs for weights, one doesn’t need to cast far, and a free swimming conger could be yours……….

Ashley Hayden,

An Irish Angler’s world


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