The fish weir, which has been in use for decades on the East Branch Delaware River, may have captured its last eel. The stone-and-wood structure in Hancock, New York, has been operated for decades by Ray Turner, whom locals refer to as “The Eel Man.” Turner also runs Delaware Delicacies Smokehouse, where he sells a variety of smoked foods, from cheese to shrimp and fish, including the eels he captures in his weir.
Ben Rinker, who is a fly fishing guide and lives two miles downstream of Turner, says that the weir has been catching eels in the river for many decades. Rinker has also helped Turner maintain the structure. “The footprint has been there for a long time, at least 80 years,” and likely far longer, Rinker says.
Damage from ice and water requires significant repairs each year, the primary reason Turner didn’t operate it this season. “Geezerism,” Rinker quips. “It’s a ton of hard work.”
Two 800-foot-high stone walls lead eels and other fish into the weir.