A time series of American eel Anguilla rostrata glass eel abundance, timing and size from Little Egg Inlet, New Jersey (16 years) and Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina (18 years) was used to provide a better understanding of ingress patterns at two, U.S. east coast estuaries. There was no evidence of synchronous declines in abundance between the two locations; however, at the Little Egg Inlet site, glass eels arrived later in the season and at significantly smaller sizes over the duration of the series. One significant linkage between sites was revealed: abundance was positively correlated with winter precipitation. Precipitation differed between sites annually and was correlated with El Niño at Beaufort Inlet and, to a lesser extent, the North Atlantic Oscillation at Little Egg Inlet. It is hypothesized that glass eels may use freshwater signals to enhance recruitment to local estuaries, thus influencing year-class strength, yet the relationship between year-class strength and adult abundance remains unresolved.