Saturday, August 03, 2013

Mullet - blast me, you won't catch them

Mullet..? Cor, blast me - you can't catch them. This has come close to being the soundbite of the last few weeks for me, having decided to test out this old Norfolk adage. And they were right.

That's why I've been so quiet - I've been trying hard to catch one of these things.

It all started when I looked off this bridge somewhere I'd never, ever think was worth fishing, and I saw a swirl. A gull dived and the surface erupted with fish bow-waving off in all directions.

What on earth are they, I wondered. I took a walk up the bank and found a chap sitting in the rye grass watching the water through binoculars. When I asked if he was bird or fish watching, he said: "A bit of both."

The water heaved as a shoal of mullet chased and swirled on the top. I've never seen anything like this, I told the man with the binos. "Me neither," he said.

He beat me to the spot the next day. We fished but there was no sign of anything. Mullet can be a bit hit and miss like this, apparently - as in they come and go, there one tide, gone the next.

I went back a few days later, having by now read up and tied up some spinners with a fluo trailer to bait up with worm, hit the place as the tide turned at the start of the flood and the mullet were back.

I crept alongside a shoal that must have been 40 or 50-strong, fins and black backs breaking the surface as they nosed along kicking up puffs of silt.

Three or four casts and they were gone - 20 yards down the bank. I squelched down through the mud and lobbed the lure well past a group of fish I saw on the top.  Three or four of them followed it in to my feet and turned tail in a muddy swirl.

Then a tractor towing a monstrous piece of farm machinery made the banks shake as it clanked and thumped its way over the bridge. I never saw another mullet that tide.

I read up and decided to try the mashed bread approach. Mullet apparently respond to this, although there are two kinds of mullet  - thick and thin-lipped - whose habits vary.

You need to know what kind of mullet you're fishing for, apparently, to tailor your approach. Are they of the thick or thin-lipped kind..? Until you actually catch one, you can't be certain. And that's mullet fishing's Catch 22.

One or two of them swirled at the crusts which floated up from loosely-squeezed balls of bread. Sea gulls make floating crust a no-no. When the gulls started diving after the bread, the mullet melted away.

I must admit, I thought a few of these would be an easy steal. Location being 90pc when it comes to catching them, etc etc. I went back and tried tiny spinners rigged with Isome worms on light leaders to a Size Four trailer and you wouldn't have thought mullet had even been invented.

I've been totally side-tracked by these things I'm clearly in no danger whatsoever of catching. I've tried bubble floats and rag. I've tried spinning for them, jigging little grubs and tiny plugs.

You get the odd follow doing this, but they drift away without taking. Five minutes later, the surface erupts down the bank when a bird spooks them or they munch into something on the surface.

I've also had them grubbing about right under my feet and just watched them as they probe the mud.
As soon as you make a move, they shoot off.

The picture is a mullet (not sure which type, as in thin or thick-lipped..) I took in the Sea Life Sanctuary a few years back.

What a fascinating fish, although time's running  out fast when it comes to chasing them.  As I give up (for now...) to return to trying to catch more bass, I decide I'll chase the mullet next year.

Just imagine catching one of them, I said to someone yesterday. "Mullet? You won't ever catch one of them," they replied.


  1. I've tried and failed to catch mullet a few times, On holiday in Looe, Cornwall the harbour and estuary is abundant with them and one morning I had them taking free lined bread flake cast after cast, but could I connect? Not a chance.

    One bait I thought about but never tried was maggots. Depends on what they're feeding on though. If there is abundant seaweed along the shore they might be worth a go.

    Remembered this two part piece I read a while ago which gives some good insight into the feeding habits and general difficulties of catching mullet, also about fishing maggots for them althought it is more fly fishing based, worth a read though.

  2. if i had a pound for every time someone told me i wouldn't catch a fish i would have about twenty quid. The favorite one at one of my local lakes from passes by is "you won't catch any pike in ere" my standard reply is "at least i am not at home doing the dishes"

  3. Me and my mate have been trying to catch mullet the last couple of weekends, they are doing our head in! See how we got here