Discover the Largest American Eel Ever Caught in the Mississippi River

Written by Megan Martin
Updated: April 28, 2023
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Key Points:

  • American Eel is a peculiar breed of fish that can survive outside water for several hours as they have the ability to breathe through their skin.
  • They should not be consumed raw as their blood is toxic to humans.
  • They also live unusually long lives, as the oldest living Eel was over 40 years old.

The Mississippi is one of the largest rivers in the United States. It’s home to various underwater creatures, including some of the largest catches in the country.

However, not every catch is what you’ll expect. Keep reading to learn about the largest American eel ever caught in the Mississippi River.

Let’s dive in!

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About the American Eel

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The American eel is one of the largest types of eel.

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The American eel is a type of freshwater fish native to the eastern freshwater bodies of the United States. It has a slender body similar to a snake and is coated in a slimy layer of mucus.

Although this can make it look smooth, it is actually coated in tiny scales like other types of fish. Although American eel mainly lives in freshwater rivers, streams, and estuaries, they do swim into the Atlantic Ocean when it comes time for breeding.

On average, the American eel can grow to be up to five feet long and weigh as much as nearly 20 pounds.

However, it is rarely caught at this size, especially because it is theorized that it doesn’t live long into adulthood. American eels of this size may also be rare due to the fact that they are bottom dwellers.

They spend the majority of their time waiting in the mud at the bottom of freshwater systems, resting or waiting for their next meal.

What is the Largest American Eel Caught in the Mississippi River?

Mississippi River
The largest American eel caught in the Mississippi River was up to 5 pounds!


The largest American eel caught in the Mississippi was caught by Mitch McLendon on July 12, 1994. McLendon, whose hometown is in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, caught this record-breaker near Vicksburg. It weighed 5 pounds and 1 ounce. That’s just a little bit more than a two-liter bottle!

While this five-pound catch may seem impressive, it’s actually not the largest in the world. There have been American eels caught outside of the Mississippi River that is even larger than McLendon’s catch!

What is the Largest American Eel Caught in the World?

electric eel incredible facts
The electric eel (Electrophorus electricus) is a South American electric fish. It has three pairs of abdominal organs that produce electricity. it is not an eel, but rather a knife fish.

©Danny Ye/

The largest American eel in the world can be traced back to Jeff Pennick in November 1995. This American eel, caught in Cape May, New Jersey, weighed in at a whopping 9 pounds and four ounces. That’s almost double the size of the largest American eels caught in the Mississippi River!

That’s not the only story of someone catching a record-breaking eel, however.

One honorable mention for the largest American eel in the world can also be traced back to the Current River in Missouri. Here, Carlin Allison caught a 6-pound, 15-ounce American eel on July 26, 2021. Allison was actually close to cutting the line and letting this state record-breaker go. This is because he and his friend were fishing for catfish.

What are Other Large Fish in the Mississippi River?

Curving road along Mississippi River during autumn
Some of the country’s largest freshwater fish can be found in the Mississippi River.


The American eel isn’t the only record-breaker hiding in this popular river. Several state records have been broken by fish caught in the Mississippi River.

The most recent Mississippi record to be set actually dates to just a few days before this writing, on August 1, 2022. On this day, Christopher Halley caught the largest blue catfish in the state, reeling in a fish weighing a whopping 104 pounds.

However, this isn’t even the largest blue catfish caught in the entirety of the Mississippi! That honor goes to Eugene Cronley who caught a 131-pound blue catfish in the Mississippi River on April 7th, 2022.

Other supersized fish you can find here include the gulf sturgeon, which can be 385 pounds and 9 feet long, as well as types of sharks!

What is the Lifespan of an Eel?

Eels are a type of fish that are known for their long, snake-like bodies and unique behaviors.

©Steven G. Johnson / Creative Commons

Eels are a type of fish that are known for their long, snake-like bodies and unique behaviors. They are found in many different bodies of water around the world, from freshwater rivers and lakes to deep-sea trenches.

One question that many people have about eels is how long they live, and what factors influence their lifespan. In this section, we’ll explore the lifespan of eels, learn about the different species and their lifecycles, and discover what researchers have found about these fascinating creatures.

There are over 800 species of eels, and their lifespans can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including the species, the environment they live in, and their reproductive patterns.

For example, the American eel (Anguilla rostrata), which is found in freshwater rivers and streams throughout eastern North America, has a lifespan of about 15-20 years. In contrast, the European eel (Anguilla anguilla), which is found in rivers and lakes across Europe and Asia, can live for up to 80 years.

One of the reasons why eels have such long lifespans is their unique lifecycle. Most eels are born in the ocean and then migrate to freshwater environments to grow and mature. They then return to the ocean to mate and lay eggs before dying.

Where do Eels Live?

Eels are a type of fish that are found in a wide range of environments around the world. They are known for their long, snake-like bodies and their unique lifecycles, which involve migrations between freshwater and saltwater habitats.

In this section, we’ll explore the different environments where eels live, learning about their adaptations and behaviors, and discovering what makes them such fascinating creatures.

One of the most common places to find eels is in freshwater rivers and lakes. Many species of eels are born in the ocean and then migrate to freshwater environments to grow and mature. These environments provide eels with a rich source of food, including fish, insects, and other aquatic animals.

They are able to adapt to a range of water conditions, from fast-moving streams to calm, stagnant ponds, and are able to breathe through their skin when oxygen levels are low.

In addition to freshwater environments, eels can also be found in the ocean, where they spend part of their lifecycle. Some species of eel, such as the European eel (Anguilla anguilla), spend several years in freshwater before migrating back to the ocean to mate and lay eggs.

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About the Author

I'm a writer with almost five years of experience. I recently graduated from Wingate University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a double minor in biology and professional and technical writing. I love everything animals and nature related! The American kestrel is my favorite animal, but I also like sharks and alligators. In my free time, I like to watch documentaries and explore nature.

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