16 SEPTEMBER 1955, Page 28


We were walking a path bordering a large iris-fringed drain, a drain that runs clear but has a silty bed, when my companion drew attention to the progress of a big eel slowly moving upstream. It was a fascinating sight, for the eel was in sunlight and all his move- ments could be observed. My friend threw a stone in the eel's path and the eel turned and moved towards the flags. As he went, he descended into the silt and moved in such a way that he was quite hidden before he reached the bank. We talked of eels and their mysterious life-cycle, and my friend described how he had caught eels as a boy, using a method peculiar to his part of South Wales, I think. No hook was attached to the line, but large numbers of worms were threaded to it and the end tied up in a loop. The string of worms was then dropped into the river from a wall or a bridge and raised and lowered at intervals. The eels were allowed to swallow a good part of the string and were then hoisted to the bank, killed, and the string extracted to be used again—an advantage over the hook, which too often cannot be extricated from an eel's throat.