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The American Eel: An Arkansas Aquatic Phantom (Part II)


The American Eel Caught - Only In Arkansas

Casey set up his ladder at the base of it, and I ran three hundred feet of extension cords to an outlet in the picnic area. The idea was to see if they’d be more inclined to travel through the tube if it seemed like an alternative to the main flow providing passage beyond the obstruction. Plus, if the ladder worked, we’d catch some as well.

We sat down and waited for the sun to drop. A few fishermen were casting nearby, and a guy came over.

“Whatchya fishin’ for?” was the question.


Only In Arkansas - American Eel Ladder and Bucket

Anyway, it was getting late, so we let that eel go and began packing up.

“Whatchy’all fishin’ for?” a woman’s voice asked, hardly audible above the rumble of her pickup truck, which sounded like a pack of Harleys.

“Eels,” Casey answered, sauntering over to say hello. She was idling in the parking lot with her two teenage daughters beside her in the cab. They were texting away and seemed annoyed at their mother for talking to random strangers.

“Eeeeels?” she replied. “I hate those things! Caught one last week five feet long! Thick around as my arm! Whatchy’all want with those disgusting things?”

“We’re collecting data,” Casey said, “for US Fish and Wildlife.” …

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Mark Spitzer is the author of twenty books and an associate professor of creative writing at the University of Central Arkansas, where he is the Editor in Chief of the award-winning Toad Suck Review. His essay collection Season of the Gar (U of Arkansas Press, 2010) will soon be followed by a sequel entitled Return of the Gar (U of North Texas Press), and he is also working on a book called Beautifully Grotesque Fish of the American West for the University of Nebraska Press. He can be seen on the alligator gar episode of Animal Planet's River Monsters series, or paddling through the tornado-littered sandtar soup of Lake Conway.

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