July 16, 2013
Eels A.K.A. Thing You Don't Expect To Take A Chunk Out Of Your Face
By Joe Cermele
Pike and muskies have teeth, as do sharks and barracudas. Every anglers knows this, and every once in a while you might catch a news blurb about one of the above nipping at a tourist or slicing up a hand while removing a hook. What you may not think of as being able to inflict real damage is an eel.
Although American eels don't have serious teeth, they have a fair amount fo jaw pressure (just ask a striper fisherman that uses them for bait). Now, if you look at conger eels that can grow to 10 feet and have a mouth full of chompers and five times the jaw pressure of American eels, you have a fish that can take a baseball-sized chunk out of your face. That's what happened to Jimmy Griffin last week while diving in Ireland. Conger eels, by the way, are a major sportfish over in Europe, but they do exist off the U.S. Coast as well.
“Suddenly I got hit with what felt like a really strong punch in the face,” Mr Griffin told the Irish Independent. “I felt like a rag doll. It gripped onto my face and threw me about violently. It was biting, pulling and twisting on my face,” he said.
“My regulator fell out and my vision became really cloudy because of the blood rising in the water in front of me. The blood looked like octopus ink, very dark,” he added
Call me a wuss but I have never liked dealing with eels. The small ones you use for bait aren't terrible, but on the occasion I'll hook a big American in the river or a silver eel offshore and just cut the line. They are, in my opinion, just nightmarish creatures, and Jimmy Griffin's story is like something out of a zombie novel. Oh, if you want to see that wound pre-stitching, click here and scroll through the photo gallery.