Scientific Name: Ammodytes Americanus
Aliases: Sand Launce, Sand Eel, Lant
Sandeels are typically found over the shoals of offshore fishing banks. They are seldom seen off rocky parts of the coast, or over muddy bottoms in deep water. While the are a dominant forage on Long Island’s south shore, evidence suggests that they are becoming much more prevalent all along the eastern seaboard due to the decline of their main predator the mackeral.
Mature sand eels run from about 4 inches to about 6 inches in length as a rule, with a few as long as 7 inches.
An interesting habit of the sand eel is the custom it has of digging itself several (4 to 6) inches deep in the sand with great speed. Its sharp-pointed snout clears the way. It is believed that they spend a large part of the time so buried. So, sudden appearances and disappearances are not unexpected and not evidence of their wanderings or migrations. It is not known if the burrowing happens only in shoal water or also into deeper bottoms.
Importance to NJ Saltwater Fishing
Sandeels are of no commercial importance other than as bait for recreational fishermen.
When Sandeels are present it usually pays to 'match the hatch'. There are many choices of soft-plastic and metal jigs that are excellent Sandeel imitations. In addtion, Gulp Sandeels are an excellent addition to have on hand for when the Sandeels show.