American Eel Eyes
I have only saw this happen once fishing when a kid and never
seen it again. It was a fish like snake looking creature with these red
eyes that got hooked while fishing in Mississippi River in SE Minnesota.
I have seen eels and this looked like a snake it wrapped itself around a
rock and on shore and broke line and flew back in water . Do you have
any idea what it was? Those red eyes I remember well as snake look.
I am fairly certain that this is the American eel. It's larger eyes will
reflect red under the right light conditions much like a camera flash to
humans in photographs.
The behavior you describe is conducive to this species.
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Update: June 2012