Monday, 15 February 2010


I first read about clotting for eels more than twenty years ago in young Doctor Bellamy’s book published in 1843. For details about him and his book see my blog for 25th November 2009. Since then I have asked around but nobody seems to know much about clots and clotting. So I was very pleased to read Emily, née Howard, Irish’s brief eel-statement in Talking about Topsham:

We’d catch eels with a clat of worms and drop them into a tin bath through a hole in a cut-open sack. They’d slither through the hole and they couldn’t get out again.

And another memory is there for I remember eels being handled with sackcloth.

Emily was born in 1889 and the six Howard children lived at Lock Cottage, across the Exe from Topsham. Emily would have been clotting or clatting for eels at about the turn of the century.

John Bellamy gives a full and fulsome description about how to make a clot. You take, I’m working from memory now, a quantity of nice fat earthworms and with a needle you thread them end to end, right down the middle, using a length of rough worsted. When you have sufficient you roll them into a ball and attach this, the clot, to a line. Then you let it lie where eels abound and the eels snag their teeth in the worsted and so are hauled in to their doom.

Is there, I wonder, a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Earthworms?

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