Manic About Mullet

Coming home from a recent trip to the west of Ireland, I’d engineered a few free hours before my ferry was due to leave. My target was to catch a mullet in the harbour at Kilmore Quay in County Wexford.

There are mullet inside the harbour here, but the best fishing, if you can find the mullet, is off the seaward facing sides of the breakwaters. They patrol along the base of the rocks right at the edge of the tide line, but are consistently moving most of the time and can be hard to pin down.

I set up with a light prototype 11-foot ABU rod with a semi supple tip, but with power feeding in quickly in the mid section designed to give power to steer bigger fish away from the numerous snags. I matched this to an ABU Soron STX40 loaded with some of the new Nanofil line in 12lb breaking strain. The relatively low diameter of Nanofil means you can use a slightly stronger main line than you would normally.

To the end of the Nanofil I added a short 6-foot section of 8lb Fluorocarbon, this to carry the float and act as the hook length. I went for a loaded clear Waggler float, and my hook would be a small size 10 barbless pattern.

Having set up my gear at the car, then poked my head over the wall, it was obvious conditions would be challenging. There was a steadily increasing wind from the southwest putting up a bit of a swell on to the rocks, plus there was some weed in the water. Not too downhearted, I walked the top of the breakwater and spotted a small group of mullet working tight in to a small bay like area between some rocks.

Making my way down the rocks to get within casting range, the rocks proved exceptionally slippy, and with no landing net available, I would have to be careful when trying to land any hooked fish.

Having fished here before I knew that a small piece of king rag is a good mullet bait. This needs to be about the size of your little finger nail, or even less. Cutting a small section of worm and baiting up, I dropped the first cast well away from the mullet and watched the float. It was shotted over heavy and was disappearing as the sea swells rode in. Reducing the shot and changing the pattern got the float riding high enough to see, but low enough to be sensitive to the take of a mullet.

I watched the movement of the weed and noticed that there was a slight left to right current. I dropped the first cast just left of where the mullet were feeding and allowed the tidal drift to carry the float towards them. The first two attempts were ignored.

I brought the gear in and lengthened the drop between float and bait by 8-inches. The next drift I saw the float simply disappear and struck a mullet briefly before the hook pulled out. Surprisingly this didn’t spook the fish.

Second time through I was ready and saw the float slide to one side and fade away. The hook went home and a mullet took off to the left dragging line off the reel. The fight was more about splashing on the surface, but after a couple of minutes I beached a nice looking fish about 4lbs. The very next cast produced a smaller fish about 3.5lbs.

I’d noticed another small group of fish breaking surface about 25-yards to my right and decided to target these now. I could see them taking tiny scraps off the surface, their heads and tails clearly visible as they turned, but I caught a glimpse of fish deeper underneath these that looked bigger.

Again I used the tide flow to trot the bait to them, but was also casting slightly beyond them and letting the swell wash the bait inwards. Before the float got near the surface feeding fish, it shot down deep and a firm strike saw a flash of silver brighten up the dark coloured water. The “flash of silver” screamed off straight out in front of me and took line at a powerful, constant speed for about 20-yards before the hook pulled. This felt like a really big fish and I was gutted to lose it.

The wind was getting worse and the fishing almost impossible now. I had one last trot through, and was surprised after the previous fish being lost, to see the float dive away again. This fish also took line and ran for a nearby rock. Dropping the rod to the side turned it, but it ran again taking line off to the left. This fish kept running line off, but in short, sharp bursts. Eventually is started splashing and twisting on the surface and I just held it there to tire a little more. Judging the sea swells, I used a decent swell to steer the fish in to a small gap between the rocks, then made the perilous climb down to claim my prize.

I took a quick couple of photos and weighed the fish at 4lb 9ozs. A satisfying way to end a trip!

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