Fishy Tales from the Emerald Isle –

Mullet Fishing onTerry's Travels

Terry’s Travels




It is no secret to any who know me that Grey Mullet are one of my favourite species in Irish waters. As an all-round angler, the attraction I have to these stunning, silver torpedoes is not difficult to fathom. Their stream-lined shape, diamond-patterned scaling and horizontal bands, seemingly air brushed by nature over a background canvas of silver-grey and cream. These are striking looking creatures that would hold pride of place in any tropical salt-water paradise, never mind our normally murky Irish waters!

And it doesn’t end there. Once hooked, the powerful over-sized “paddle” immediately comes into play, usually ripping line from the reel in impressive, heart-stopping bursts with a defiant determination to avoid the landing net that puts many sport and game fish to shame!



Their wily character and selective feeding habits make Grey Mullet an extremely difficult quarry at times, but not all the time. Once they let their guard down, they can be as simple to fool as any popular species. This challenge to crack the code, (which can be different on every occasion), and deal with the subsequent explosion that ensues, is what draws me to isolated coastal bays and estuaries on what is, too be honest, all too many occasions. Mullet angling is addictive, be warned!


Marine worms and small crustaceans have always been part of the mullet’s food intake, and being in the right place at the right time, you may readily connect with mullet on ragworm, especially harbour rag or “maddies”, lugworm or small shrimps.


It is also well-known that Grey Mullet will congregate around all manner of out-fall pipes around our coast. Sometimes this is to graze on the algae created by fresh-water influx, but again being able to switch diet, they will readily feed on the waste from processing factories such as cheese or fish producers.

After reading this tiny snippet on Grey Mullet, you may be wondering where my story is leading. Just when I begun to feel that I had learnt all I needed to know about Grey Mullet and how, when and where to catch them, having hooked and landed dozens over the years, nature and her fish species have a fabulous way of kicking me in the back-side, bringing me back down to earth. This, personally, is what makes angling so interesting and a life long challenge.


I am relating to a recent adventure on the hunt for specimen Mullet (mullet over 5lbs). After a great deal of pain-staking stalking and general creeping about, I found myself in an enviable position, crouched under cover of vegetation, silently watching dozens of mullet actively feeding less than three rod lengths from the bank.


With the hard work in finding the feeding fish behind me, it was a simple matter of catching a few, and on this occasion, as so often in the past, it would be with bread flake, or so I thought. A few free samples quietly catapulted over the shoal, followed by the hook bait covertly dropped amongst the offerings. Within minutes, I would be into hard fighting fish. How wrong could I be!


Frustratingly, time passed, as did every mullet, some even nudging the bread flake and the float with their tails and flanks, but without apparent interest. They were obviously feeding, at times voraciously, but on something a great deal more satisfying than bread it seemed! Conditions were perfect, warm with light southerlies, mullet practically in a frenzy, but I remained fishless. It was impossible to see exactly what had these fish so pre-occupied. I hunted in the margins and gathered a handful of sand-hopper shrimps thinking this must be cause of the commotion, but again, these were ignored in much the same way as the bread flake. How can this many fish feed so heavily, yet ignore other baits that had proved extremely effective in the past?


By the afternoon, I was despondent to say the least. I put the rod down and went for a walk, partly for a break from the frustration and partly for inspiration. Staring into the water, I spied a small flash of silver, followed by another and carefully scooped up a wounded fish fry. It was a juvenile sprat or sand smelt, I’m not sure which. With my eyes now adjusted to “seeing” rather than simply “looking”, there were more, all along the waters edge. In fact, there were now hundreds of dead or dying fry, in much the same way as you would see roach fry after a prolonged pike or perch attack. Were they here all along, and my blinkered ideas of mullet and their feeding habits prevented me from seeing them, or were they now genuinely only beginning to wash up in view on the shore line? Surely Grey Mullet do not actively attack shoals of juvenile fish?


 These are the fry that the mullet were feeding on.

With the bread flake now substituted for a head-hooked what ever it was, I purposely over-cast the float controller and slowly reeled the new, fresh bait towards the feeding fish. Before it even reached the shoal, the float buried and line screamed from the reel as I gently set the hook, somewhat astounded at the ferocity and speed at which my bait had been taken, bearing in mind that I was fishless until this point.

Ten minutes later, with a specimen mullet lying in the landing net, an old lesson had been well and truly re-instated. When it comes to angling, never take anything for granted, but look beyond the mists of angling normality that all too often leave us walking away without a bite.



Fluorocarbon leader and spade-end hooks were an essential requirement.


At this late stage, most of the mullet had fed to bursting point and were moving on, but in less than a dozen casts I ended the day with six cracking fish and two that shook the size ten spade-end hook before they reached my landing net. It’s any ones guess how many mullet might have been landed had I realised earlier, but I know from now on, after that fantastic experience, I will never look at those algae grazers in the same light again. They are as much a sport fish as our fragile bass, but somewhat over-looked, long may it continue!



Mach2 Rod and Reel made a perfect combination for this fishing.



 Now we can see what they were taking!



A selection of the controllers that I use for this style of fishing.

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