One thing I’ve learnt about mullet is that they are a moody fish. Like no other they will switch from feeding to being totally disinterested in the blink of an eye. When I started out fishing for mullet I wasted way too much time trying to catch fish that I’ve since learnt were just not feeding. The key to successful mullet fishing is keeping on the move to locate fish that will feed.
The big weakness that mullet have is that they are easy to see and locate. You can’t miss the telltale V shaped bow wave as a mullet cruises by. This in itself is not a sign they are feeding though. Watch carefully and you’ll see them either invert themselves tail up, head down to sift through the bottom debris, or see the swirl or dimple in the surface water as they sip some tasty morsel from the surface layers. Sometimes you also see them weaving in and out of weed beds picking food off the weed stems flashing their flanks as they twist and turn. These are the signs that the mullet are taking in the calories and are vulnerable to a hook bait.
I was recently in the Glengarriff area of west Cork, Ireland travelling from one ground fishing mark where we’d had rays, to another mark where we hoped for huss. There was a small saltwater pool at the roadside fed by a pipe from the seaward side. This created a flow of water through the pipe in to the pool. Pulling up at the side of the road you could instantly see the mullet at the far end of the pool cruising, but also occasionally sipping stuff off the surface. The signs were good!
I was fishing with Inland Fisheries Officer Mike Hennessy, and without even looking at each other we both dived back in to the car and started setting up mullet gear. I chose a prototype Shakespeare 11ft Avon type rod with an ABU Soron STX40 reel and 15lb Nanofil line, adding 6-feet of 12lb Fluorocarbon to the end of the Nanofil.
The mullet were only feeding in a narrow band of water some 35-yards away from where I had to cast from. I chose to use a weighted carp controller float slid on to the 12lb Fluorocarbon with a sliding adjuster bead above it. To the end of the 12lb Fluorocarbon I tied on a small swivel, then added 6-feet of 6lb Fluorocarbon and tied on a size 8 hook.
The bait was a chunk of white bread slightly bigger than a 50p piece. I hid the hook in the bread and nipped the end to make it secure. There was a side wind blowing, so I had to cast high and slightly to the left of my intended target area to get the bait in the right place. The first cast I was not out quite far enough. The second cast I was bang on and had a mullet nose the bait, but when I struck I hit thin air. Mike had a fish on for a few seconds before it threw the hook.
I noticed that one particular fish was working a small area in a gap between floating weed. My next cast put the bread on the edge of the up wind side of the weed. Perfect! I could let the float gently bring the bread in to the middle of the gap. The beauty with Nanofil for this type of fishing is that it sits just under the surface layer of the water helping me keep a fairly tight line, but without dragging the bread round in an unnatural manner. If a bait looks or behaves even remotely unnatural, the mullet will shy off.
Some anglers watch the float and will strike when it slides away. I’ve had too many mullet suck the bread off without showing any indication on the float at all to trust this. I watch the bread. Wait until the mullet takes the bread in, wait a second, then lift in to the fish. I miss a few as you’d expect, but this method of striking, I find, gets me more fish than watching the float does.
The bread slowly drifted in to the middle of the gap in the weeds. I saw the mullet see the bread and turn slightly to intercept it. I watched the swirl as the mullet took the bait, paused, lifted the rod…and the rod buckled over and line screamed off the reel clutch. The mullet shot parallel across the back of the pool, went back to where it started, shot in a few yards towards me, then went for the weed. Steady pressure and a dab of the finger on the clutch to add a bit more pressure turned the fish. It grudgingly came towards me in to the middle of the pool and slugged it out making short runs and nose-diving for the bottom. I got it fairly close to me, then it turned and ripped line off taking maybe 20-yards of line back and heading for the far side of the pool.
It’s a fine line when playing mullet. You need to pressure the fish, but they do have a habit of throwing hooks, so don’t try and bully them. I kept up a steady gain line, give line approach and slowly worked the fish closer to me. It was in front of me now, and another lad with us, Paul Harris, grabbed a long handled net. I tried to get the mullet in to position for netting, but it saw the net, or Paul, and ran again. The second time, it came in fighting, but then flipped, head on the surface to show it was tired. Paul slipped the net under it and it looked bigger then we first anticipated.
Weighed carefully and safely, the fish weighed bang on 4.5lbs and had proved a worthy adversary. It was a clean, fat, healthy fish with full scales and that grey silver sheen mullet tend to have when living in clean water. The fight had disturbed the other mullet, plus the tide was easing, and the fish seemed to switch off. It was over!
This fish proves the point though, that keeping an eye out when travelling along the coast can identify small little mullet hotspots that can produce bonus fish for you if you are observant and spot the opportunity.