From Publishers Weekly
Ask your average North American: eels, those slimy snakelike creatures, are generally held in poor regard. For nature writer Prosek (Trout; Fly-Fishing the 41st), however, they are a compelling mystery, and in his riveting synthesis of cultural, geographical, and botanical sleuthing, he investigates their reputation at home and abroad. The author--for whom the eel was once merely bait for bass--delves into the closely held traditions of the Maori of New Zealand, where eels are revered; into the beliefs of the Micronesian island of Pohnpei, where eels are considered members of a tribal clan; into the heart of the largest seafood market in the world, in Japan, a nation that consumes more than 130,000 tons of eels each year; into the reclusive world of Eel Weir Hollow in the Catskills, where fisherman Ray traps and smokes as much as one ton of eels a season; and to the fabled Sargasso Sea, where eels are thought to start their trek to the world's lakes, rivers, and streams--though, even now, no one knows precisely where the world's population of eels spawns, an enduring scientific mystery awaiting a solution.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The freshwater eel is born in the Sargasso Sea, makes its way at random to a freshwater stream in Europe or the U.S. (and doesn’t make a mistake and end up on the wrong continent), and after many years makes its way back to the Sargasso to spawn and die. A baffling fish, there are 15 species of freshwater eels found all over the world. Prosek (Trout: An Illustrated History, 1996) points out that eels are not an easy fish to like; they’re snakelike and don’t act like normal fish (they can slither through the grass on wet nights to find food or new bodies of water). But his fascination with eels took him to New Zealand, where the longfin eel can live more than 100 years and grow to more than 80 pounds. Eels are big business in Japan. The tale of Ray Turner, a man who still fishes for eels the traditional way with a hand-built weir, is at the heart of the book, tying the mythology, the mystery, and the commerce of eels together into his story. --Nancy Bent