Two years ago we purchased an eel basket with every intention of putting it good use. This weekend we finally got around to using it. We had a guest staying and we all traipsed down to the lake shore at dusk to plant the basket, hoping to dine on eels for breakfast. It was set amongst some submerged stones, where we were told it was traditionally a very productive spot.
In the morning we gathered together a knife and a pair of dry gloves, and set off in the early dew, with hungry tummies and keen fisher folk!
The anticipation was mighty as Dan retrieved the basket, weaved from willow, and brought it to shore. He opened the lid and we all tentatively peered inside, half yearning for an eel breakfast, half ready to 'eek' at the sight of black squirming eels, and all the frolics involved with holding it, never mind dispatching, gutting and cooking it!
And so, was breakfast to be freshly cooked eel fried in butter ... or porridge ... the latter I'm afraid! Half disappointed, half relieved, we put the basket back in another spot for another 24 hours.
One of our neighbours told us how eels were a popular source of food when he was a boy. They would be caught in that special spot he told us about. The standard procedure to kill them in those days was as follows ... once caught, you would take hold of one by the tail and throw it up into the air as high as possible, and while the eel began its decent one would have to be sure to say out loud 'In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost', otherwise the eel would not die. The landing place of the eel must also be soft ground, such as grass. If these instructions were followed the eel would be dispatched, but if the wording was missed out, or the eel fell on hard ground, it would surely remain alive. We have yet to test this procedure, but when we do, I'll be sure to take lots of photographs!