For a challenging Mullet “grand slam” I had the notion to target all three Grey Mullet varieties during one adventure. However, to push the boundaries a little further, how about adding that they would all have to be over Irish specimen size!
The three species in question (omitting the Red Mullet found offshore) are obviously the “thick-lipped”, the “thin-lipped” and the smaller and much prettier “golden-grey”. A tall order I know, especially as I have never been lucky enough to catch the Thin-lipped species as yet, never mind one over the magic specimen threshold!
We checked out the usual haunts at our chosen venue, and could see a few “cruisers” feeding at distance. Andy was first in, and after a fabulous scrap, landed a pristine thick-lipped Mullet just under five pounds. A great start to the trip, and I soon followed suit. A couple of missed opportunities and some smaller fish later, it was time to pitch the bivvy and crash out for the night. Before doing so, and with the tide dropping, we dug a good supply of maddies in preparation for an early start the following day. Goldies and Thin lips were the main quarry, as these aren’t available on our local waters and it made sense to concentrate on these.
Persevering through the in-coming tide, a few small shoals showed themselves, and I managed to tempt a Golden Grey Mullet, the delicate and smaller of the three species. To the weighing scales it managed to equal the specimen target of 1.5lbs and although it was the only fish taken before we were pushed off the mark by the tide, it was part one of my three fish challenge, and a positive result towards achieving the grand slam.
As we followed the small shoals upstream, the high banks giving a great vantage point to pick out larger fish, Andy tempted his first Golden Grey and beat the glitch that had troubled him since last year. At 1lb 7oz it nudged the specimen barrier, but he was now confident of better things to come.
By the end of our second session, we had notched up quite a few fish, persisting with spoon-baited maddies, casting and retrieving along the surf and working our way up the estuary. Among these, both Andy and I tempted a couple of specimen Thick-lipped Mullet. We were actively avoiding these for now in our search for Goldies and especially Thin-lips but gaining another specimen managed to fulfil part two of the challenge, with one more to find. Changing to float fished maddies in shallow water, Andy picked up a specimen Golden Grey, and was absolutely delighted to notch up another new species over specimen weight. Both of us now required a Thin-lip specimen for the grand slam.
We fished the remainder of the tide down, dug another supply of maddies, re-tackled for one last shot in the morning, hoping that our last day would be kind to us. At 5am, I awoke to the chatter of sea birds and in-coming tide and followed the small shoals upstream, leaving Andy to catch up on his beauty sleep. I had a few “follows” and the odd missed “take” but tempted nothing. The weather was changeable with a distinct drop in temperature, it seemed like the elusive Thin-lip had beaten me again. I worked the entire length of the estuary to no avail, and returned somewhat dejected to the bivvy for breakfast.
As this was our last day, there was just enough time to pack away the camping gear and head to the flooding lagoon, at the top of the estuary. There was now enough water to hold fish, and although there wasn’t that many by normal standards, I could see the odd flash of flank below the surface. A cast beyond the shoals to avoid disturbance, and slow retrieve took an immediate hit.
This fish wasn’t messing about! Instant hook-up, line pulling against the clutch and regularly breaking the surface, it felt a little different than normal. Gut instinct had me thinking, I slackened the clutch a little more than normal, not wanting a hook-pull on this occasion. With adrenaline taking over, and hands shaking, I guided my catch towards the waiting net.
Once the net was in my hands, cheers went up. The elusive Thin-lip had been tempted and beaten, and it looked a good size. With scales zeroed to the weigh sling, she pushed the dial round to 1.7 kilos, and beyond the 1.5 specimen weight. I was absolutely over the moon, my first new specimen category for two years.
On our journey down, four days ago, I remember saying to Andy that if I were only to catch one fish, please let it be a specimen Thin-lip. Although conditions were tough and fish were in small numbers, I not only realised this ambition, but also met the “grand slam” challenge, probably something I will never be able to repeat.
For a more detailed report on this trip and much more, check out www.angling-ireland.com