Exploiting an eel’s habits in order to catch this fish as an experienced angler can be read beyond its literal form, because the bait can be compared to the description evil thoughts are given in Philokalia. The Compleat Angler is composed of fishing advice given from an experienced fisherman Piscator. Specifically, eels are said to be the smallest fish included in The Compleat Angler and are disputed in how they procreate and if their meat is healthy to eat. Nevertheless, it is recommended in the book to learn the eel’s habits and target it accordingly. Piscator advises that eels are not actively swimming during the daytime, instead they are found under boards and planks in secluded, dark areas. He recommends placing a small hook between these hiding places on warm day, “leisurely, and as far as you may conveniently: and it is scare to be doubted but that, if there be an Eel within the sight of it, the Eel will bite instantly” (Walton and Cotton, 186). Piscator also says to pull gradually to be sure to not spook the eel in order to ensure definite success. It seems gradual deception is encouraged in fishing as a whole.
Thus, this method of catching an eel is similar to the way Philokalia describes evil thoughts in a person’s mind, as “even a single word can deflect the mind from the memory of God, when the demons are pushing” (Kadloubovsky and Palmer, 403). This is because just one worm or one word, can result in the death of the eel or the death of a human soul. In addition, the way an eel omits from swimming during the day or even during a six month cold front, can be compared to monks separating themselves from society in complete silence and contemplation, where bait symbolizes temptation. ** It seems that the allusion of safety leads to a wandering mind, and a wandering mind leads to a weakness for worldly objects. * Therefore, while seclusion and the silence that comes from being alone, “tames the passions of the soul, they are wont to rage all the more if they are allowed to flare up and become acute, and with redoubled force they lead those, who let this happen, into sin” (Kadloubovsky and Palmer, 403). This is seen by Piscator’s certainty when it comes to saying that if there is an eel where you placed your bait, it will bite. Hence, it is best to be constantly checking in and ensuring that no bad thoughts have entered one’s mind, and a good way to do so is to be consistently reciting psalms. All in all, the advice given relating to catching fish can be interpreted on how to live and prosper as a good human by warning against being deluded by evil.
** Narration or Statement of the facts: imparting a spin to a story, plausibility