Most anglers fishing offshore don’t intend to catch moray eels but stumble across them accidentally. Eels are common to salt and fresh water, but the moray eel is found off the coast of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolin. Moray eels are unique-looking fish but should be handled with care. How do you handle a moray eel.

Where Do Moray Eels Live

Moray eels live in all of the favorite places that you enjoy catching prized bottom fish like grouper, red snapper, triggerfish, and more. They lurk on the seafloor in openings on coral reefs, wrecks, and other bottom structures. They nestle themselves in some of the tightest spaces. 

What Is The Range of the Moray Eel Along the East Coast

Depending on the species, they are typically found from Cape Hatteras down through south Florida. However, some moray’s will venture as far north as New England. 

Which Types of Eels Are You Likely To Encounter

In the offshore waters of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, you are likely to catch two different varieties of the morray type of eel.

Green moray

The biggest of eels in the moray family, they can grow over seven feet long and weigh up to 30 pounds. Green moray eels are entirely green from head to tail. The green can range from lime green to bright green. 

Spotted Moray 

A spotted moray eel is yellow or white and is covered in dark spots of varying size. The spotted moray is much shorter in length. They are most often caught between one and two feet but are rarely longer than three feet. 

How Do You Catch Moray Eels

Any type of moray eel is typical not sought after. Most anglers catch a moray eel when fishing for other species. The moray eel will eat many of the favorite baits your target species dine on. This type of bait includes cut bait such as squid, fish, or dead shrimp. Moray eels will also eat live bait such as shrimp and baitfish. They are most often caught near the seafloor with weights to reach the depth. 

How Do You Handle An Eel When Caught

An eel will perform like an acrobat. Expect the eel to wrap around your line in a ball before you even bring it into the boat. They can be difficult to grab hold of and differentiate where the head is. The moray eel needs to be handled with care.

What Equipment is Needed to Unhook a Moray Eel

When you’re bottom fishing, make sure to bring along a pair of pliers and a rag to remove the hook from a moray eel. 

Is dehooking a moray eel dangerous

Yes, the mouths of moray eels are lined with teeth that can inflict painful wounds. They need to be handled with care to avoid being punctured by sharp teeth. 

What are the symptoms of a moray eel bite

The bite of a moray eel can lead to severe lacerations of the skin. If the bite is deep enough, tissue loss, nerve damage, and tendon injuries can be sustained. Beyond the wound, more severe implications exist because of the toxins they can transmit. 

How Do You Treat a Moray Eel Bite

Act fast. If the wound is small, wash it out immediately with soap and water. For more severe bites, contain the bleeding and apply an antibacterial ointment to help prevent infection. Don’t ever hesitate to call a doctor. 

So Should you Still Bottom Fish?

When it comes to bottom fishing in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, eels are a definite possibility to catch but uncommon. Now that you know how to handle an eel, the task should be a bit easier. Take extra precautions to avoid the chance of suffering from an eel bite. More than likely, the cooler will be filled with some of your favorite fish without ever encountering an eel.