Shore fishing can be just as exciting as fishing from on a boat, if not more. However, more often than not, in order to be successful, one must rig up his tackle as finely as possible in order to have half a chance of landing the big one. Shore fishing has become quite technical in the last few years and has excelled from the days were any rod, line and hook would do. The following are some pointers which I hope will help you increase the quality of the fish you catch rather than the quantity.
I take this opportunity to stress the importance of ‘Catch & Release’ as the quantity of fish around our shores has sharply declined due to various reasons, overfishing with trammel nets and pollution being a few amongst others.
Starting-off- Shore fishing techniques depends on the species you are trying to catch. Firstly you need to decide whether you are going to use a fishing pole or a telescopic rod and reel. Secondly, you need to match the tackle to your rod. On most fishing rods one will find the ‘action’ of the rod, e.g. 5-25g, which means the casting capability of that rod must not exceed 25 grams, terminal tackle and bait included. For pole fishing it is recommended to start off with a 5 to 6 meter medium action pole whilst for a rod with reel, a 2.7 to 3.6 meter rod with an action of 20-50grams and a reel of size 1500-4000 spooled with 0.22mm-0.28mm fishing line is an ideal set up to start off with. For the tackle to be top notch, and to bring out the best of your fishing line, it is very important to use the right knot in the right place. Many are those that will tell you that one of the most important things to remember is to keep your hooks sharp. I say, “If the hook comes off the line, it doesn't matter how sharp it was." Proper knots are essential for a successful fishing trip. My favorite knots and the most frequent ones I use are the Uni Knot, The Surgeon’s Loop, The Dropper Loop and the Figure of Eight. These can be found on the internet such as www.animatedknots.com
Bait – The number one rule for bait is, ‘the fresher, the better’. Nobody likes to eat rotten food, fish are no exception. It is also important to match the bait with the fish you are targeting and the tackle you are going to target it with. Whilst a variety of worms, maggots, squid, live crayfish and prawns are ideal to target fish like bream and wrasses, one may also use bread, cheese and sweet corn for other fish like mullet and fresh seaweed (selliha) for Salpa (Xilep). It is not unlikely to by-catch a fish on a bait you would never imagine presenting to catch such a fish. This happened to me whilst fishing for mullet with bread and surprisingly landed an awrata of over 1kg (see picture above). When using live bait it’s important to keep it as alive and fresh as possible, especially in summer, keep your bait in a cooler and only bring out what you plan on using.
Tips, Tricks & Techniques - Float Fishing
Pesca Al Inglese /Running float - When using this method of fishing, you will need a 3.6m – 4.5m fishing rod with an action which is proportionate to the float you intend to use and the fish you are targeting. Since this method gives one the opportunity to fish for a wide variety of fish, from bogue (vopi) and mullet to sea bass (spnott) and blue runners (sawrell), when using this method, first you need to decide on the targeted fish, then the leader and float you will use and then the rod and reel which is proportionate to the tackle you chose. For this method, on the main line on the reel you must first insert a rubber stopper, then a bead, then the float, another bead then a lead of about 2g less than the float can take, then a third bead and finally a swivel. So, if you are using a float that can take up to 12grams, then the lead weight should be of circa 10 grams. The remaining weight will be placed using splitshot leads on the leader.
Pesca Al Bolognese - This method of fishing follows the common ‘float fishing’ on a fishing pole but instead, this is rigged up on a specific Bolognese fishing rod. These type of rods vary from 5m to 8m and normally have a very low action, for example 0-6grams. They are rigged with a small spinning reel of size 1000-2500 spooled with 0.14mm-0.20mm line. The leader should be suitable to the fish you intend to target. I would recommend an average leader would be made from 0.10mm-0.12mm line with a size 12 hook. With this method one can fish with a fixed float but at a distance of 10-40 meters away from the shore. This method is commonly used in Malta for mullet and bogue (vopi).
Tips, Tricks & Techniques - Bottom Fishing
Running ledger - This rig is a simple one hook rig with sliding weight and is often preferred by the beginner as it is an easy rig to tie. However, it certainly has its place in more technical fishing when seeking species such as Bream (Sargi & Awrat etc) & Rays (Rajja). First thread your main line through a sliding lead which will run trough the main line of your reel. Secondly, thread a bead onto the main line of the rig and attach the end of the line to a swivel. The bead will protect your knot from being worn by the sliding lead. Lastly, attach your leader (30cm-100cm) to the swivel. Vary the weight and hook according to the fish being targeted and the current and depth of the fishing area.
Paternoster – This is probably, by far, the most commonly used technique in Malta, both from land and from on a boat when bottom fishing. The multi-hook rig allows you to have more than one chance of success at any one time by fishing at three different levels in the water. It is recommended that from the lower hook to the weight and all the ‘branches’ of the paternoster rig are made out of a thinner and weaker monofilament fishing line so should any of these points get snagged on the rocks or weeds, you do not lose the whole rig or a fish you may have caught.
Speed Fishing by Carmelo Quattrocchi
Grey Ghost .... the mighty mullet fishing in Malta
I must start by saying that after having fished for mullet for many years I have grown to respect this wonderful and powerful creature. I have spent many long hours trying to understand this beautiful fish, mainly for the sport it can give in its fighting ability and the fact that it’s so difficult to catch, this is why we can see so many Mullet basking in the sun in our marinas and harbours. I have done some research to not only describe how to catch mullet but also to understand its feeding habits and growth rate amongst other things, I think you will find this information interesting reading.
I would like to thank all my friends from the Kingfisher Sport fishing club for all the hours we have spent fishing and talking about how to try understand this Mytical fish..
What tackle and methods do I need to catch mullet?
The method you would need to set up depends on the location and depth of water you are going to fish. Mullet prefer calmer waters like creeks and harbours, where they will always find free food offerings from the many fishing and pleasure boats. Basically there are six main fishing methods an angler can set up to catch mullet, an explanation of each is given below.
1. Fishing pole to hand, using bait paste or Farka.
Fishing pole to hand must be the most popular fishing method used by local anglers, using rods of lengths varying from 5 meters to 9 meters. The main advantage of fishing pole to hand is the presentation of bait and the fact that the rod tip is directly above the float, resulting into a more positive strike. A disadvantage I would say that you are limited as to what diameter lines you can use, for you only have the action of the rod to compensate for the powerful lunges of the mullet, the least line used, I would say is 0.12mm hook lengths.
In winter baits are always presented on the seabed for during these colder months the mullet tend to feed only on the bottom due to the low sea temperatures. Bites are few are far between during these winter days as the fish feed less, however hooking a winter mullet is something you will never compare to a fish of the same size, for the winter mullet is all one muscle, this will test the ability of any angler.
It is good practice to have the rod length a meter longer than what the water is deep, for example if you are fishing in 6 meters of water best fish using 7 meters of your pole, this will eliminate any wind dragging your line and float into the opposite direction of the current. Remember you always want the bait to flow with the current at the seabed, anything different to that and the fish will not bite.
Paste baits work really well and although one could write a book on the different types of pastes you can use, sticking to a high protein paste will more often than not give a positive result. Saying that however sometimes sticking to white bread can be a winner, the texture of the paste is also very important and a good gauge would be that if the paste remains on your hook when you lift the line out of the water, then it is still too hard. The paste needs to fall off your hook as you lift the rod and line up.
Farka by far is one of the most used baits for mullet fishing mainly due to the excellent presentation properties this bait has. The bait is simple to do, simply place a bread bun “Tan-noklu” in luke warm water and let it saturate. Remove the bun from the water and slowly squash it in both hands to remove as much water from the dough as you can. The result will look like a piece of dough before it was cooked. Place the dough in a towel to continue to remove any excess water, then into another towel before placing it in the fridge overnight, the result will be a stringy looking piece of dough. Simply take lengths off the stringy dough and attach to your hook same way you would hook a worm. In winter have the bait presented on the bottom and in summer mid sea level works well too. When using farka in summer, it would be good practice to use the same type of rolls saturated in water to bait your swim before presenting your hook.
To entice the fish to bite, you can dip the baited farka into sweet cake additives,like vanilla and aniseed solutions.
2. Light ledgering with flake bread
2.1 How to ledger
Ledgering is a method of fishing using a weight on the line to aid casting and getting your bait out at a distance, to the sea bed, see figure above.
There are many variations of this method depending on the type of sea conditions. But I will cover the basics for catching mullet on the bottom.
Ledgering can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it, I like to keep things as simple as possible.
Baits used are either Farka or fresh pieces of sliced bread pinched on to the shank of the hook.
2.2 Ledgering for mullet with a light quiver tip rod.
After casting, place the rod in the rest and wait for the line to go slack, this means you are on the bottom. Slowly wind your reel to put a slight bend in the tip. Remember to keep the rod at approximately ninety degrees to your target and the tip as close to the water as possible, this reduces the effect of wind on your line. Height from the ground is of personal preference but keep it as low as possible but comfortable for striking.
Always use light lines of not more than diameter 0.14mm maximum and hook lengths of 0.12mm or less. As bait use fresh sliced bread or a piece of farka. When using a feeder, fill the feeder with fresh liquidised bread. This is easily done by liquidising 2 fresh sliced loafs, using a liquidiser the night before going and leaving it in the fridge to remain fresh, the finer the bread crumbs the better.
A ledger bite is fantastic to watch as you see the rod tip swing out, almost taking you rod into the sea, watch your rod all the time and you can see the bites as the fish pecks at the bait, be ready to lift the rod as the fish swims away with the bait. Do not leave the rod unattended for you will most likely lose it into the sea, these are powerful fish and such a pleasure to catch.
3. The Running float method for deeper water.
The running float method has become very popular these last few years with many anglers using this method to catch many types of fish. The method is also very effective for catching mullet in deep water, like you would find on some jetties in our ports and harbours. Basically as can be seen in the diagram below the method consists of a running float, moving freely along your main line, which is stopped at the desired depth using a simple bead and stop knot. The bulk of the weight is in the first meter between the hook and swivel. To make casting easier place a stopper bead a meter above the swivel this will help not getting tangles when casting. One should always feather the line just before the float hits the water.
What is feathering? This is a method were you would place your finger on the line to stop it from coming off the spool just before the float touches the water after casting. This will allow for the remaining hook length to follow through the air further out from the float and prevent the rig getting tangled. This method needs to be used when fishing any float and reel set up, as tangles are more likely to occur when fishing these methods.
As mentioned earlier the wind can drag your line in the opposite direction to the current resulting in no bites. In order to stop this it is very important to sink your line under the water surface. You can easily do this by placing your rod tip a few inches under the water and reeling in a couple of fast turns. You will experience many more bites when using this technique.
For fishing close to pontoons etc, I find that a 4 meter running float rod with a fast taper is best, and I’ve found that telescopics can do the job beautifully. Look for something with plenty of give in the tip section, but stopping power toward the butt, with eyes having long shanks to keep the line away from the rod, so as not to stick.
Mullet can fight really hard and you will be using comparatively small hooks and a light line.
The important thing is to fish as light as possible given the conditions and, where you need to step up your tackle (i.e. for dealing with keeping fish away from any obstructions), you need to balance your tackle throughout.
A stronger rod needs to be used with a stronger line, and a larger and stronger hook, but don’t expect to get as many bites when the mullet are in a finicky mood.
4. Bolognese float fishing.
The Bolognese method is using a long rod – say 7 or 8 meters - and fishing it much like a pole. Using a float directly under the rod tip. The advantage being that you have a reel w/ drag for larger fish vs. a pole which has no reel. Lighter lines can be used with this method, even 0.08mm hook lengths.
There are many floats available on the market of different shapes and sizes, always keep in mind that whichever float you use make sure you have enough split shot to sink the body of the float underneath the water surface, leaving only the tip in sight. This is a mistake commonly seen, mullet are very sensitive fish and if you leave any bulk of float showing they will suck in the bait, feel the resistance and spit it out again faster than you can strike.
Fishing for mullet is all about presentation of bait and resistance.
The figure below shows a typical Bolognese rod.
5. Controller float fishing.
By far the best fishing method for mullet in the summer months, early morning or at dusk this method will surely catch you fish. A 3 meter light action rod and fixed spool reel loaded with diameter 0.12mm line is required for this set up. You can fish direct using the 0.12mm line direct from the spool or to increase your catch rate use 1.5 meters of 0.10mm line as your hook length. A size 14 wide gap short shank hook is a must for this method together with a piece of fresh white bread flake, pinched to the shank of the hook. The controller float which is already weighted has a swivel at the top end from which the main line is passed through to have the float running freely, a stopper knot and bead 1.5 meters away from the hook will stop the float from running down all the way to the hook. This method is super sensitive giving no resistance to the fish as it takes the bait.
Feeding method is to break up 2 loaves of fresh sliced bread in a bucket, do NOT add water, just make into a ball as is and catapult them out as far as you can. After a while you will see that the water surface will start to boil, as the fish come up to eat the bread. This is the time to cast past the bread and reel in slowly to leave the baited hook amongst the free offerings. It will not be long before a mullet will come up for the baited bread flake. Make sure your drag is set properly for when using these light lines you will need all the help you can get to stop the powerful lunges of the fish, be patient and take your time to tire the fish out before trying to land it. Always bring the fish to the landing net and never run after it with the net from side to side for this will spooke the fish even more and you will surely lose it.
6. Fixed waggler float fishing in shallow water.
.When fishing a shallow water location at considerable distances one of the preferred methods is fixed waggler float fishing, as always bait presentation and current flow is imperative. Sinking the line between rod tip and float is to be taken as a MUST for failing to do this every time you cast will result in no bites. Mullet fishing is not just a cast in bait and hope for the best, you need to constantly work the bait by lifting and moving it about a little at a time to entice the fish, especially if no current is running at the time. Watch you float closely for sometimes bites can be so sensitive, mullet can hold your float emerged just a couple of millimetres and you would need to strike or they may lift the bait off the bottom thus lifting your float, here is a bite too. With loaded wagglers for long distance casting place all the split shot at the bottom of the float and leave your trace weight free, just a hook and bait, this works well in the summer months of piers.
Typical questions asked by anglers new to mullet fishing.
Everyone tells me that mullet are soft-lipped. Is that true?
Unless you use correctly balanced tackle, any fish that fights as strongly as mullet, hooked on such small hooks, is going to tear away from the hook.
When you try to remove a hook, you’ll find out that a mullet’s lips are anything but soft!
The reputation has come about from the frequent experience of traditional sea-anglers, hooking fish and predictably losing them.
The ‘soft-lips’ myth excuses their lack of angling skill at catching mullet.
What baits work best for mullet?
Mullet natural feed ..... on detritus, diatoms, algae and microscopic invertebrates which they filter from mud and sand through their mouth and gills. A proportion of the sand ingested helps the grinding of the food in the muscular stomach. These however are impossible to put on your hook so apart from its natural diet thank goodness Mullet are suckers for white bread..
A flake of white bread is by far the best and most consistent bait.
Don’t worry about using the cheap stuff. Mullet aren’t that particular, though you might find that the more expensive loaves produce flakes that stay on the hook better.
The natural food of mullet is algae and micro-organisms found in mud and weed.
They have fantastically long intestines, through which the mud they suck in progresses slowly, allowing plenty of time for the organic matter in the mud to be digested out.
They will also suck in small pieces of floating weed and suck out any micro-organisms and expelling it immediately.
In environments where there are lots of nutrient rich scraps; harbours, marinas, at sewage outfalls etc, they learn that the scraps themselves can be nutritious and take bread baits readily.
In other locations, they may need to be ‘educated’ to take bread, by introducing plenty of bread over several days.
Where the current is likely to quickly disperse groundbait, a bread-filled sack will introduce a steady flow of particles, and the mullet will learn to feed at the sack, sucking at the mesh. Feeding the fish a few days before you go fishing will always improve your chances, be discrete and try not let anyone see you otherwise if your secret is found out your spot will surely be taken.
When baiting a hook, lightly squeeze a small flake of bread at the top of the shank of the hook (a size 10 strong short-shanked wide gape hook patterns work best with bread), so that it folds around the hook, but remains fluffy in the water. If you want the bread to sink, dip it into the water, then lightly press the flake so that the air will be expelled, but lightly enough so that the bread stays fluffy.
Do other baits work?
Yes, in certain circumstances.
If there is a local supply of novel food, the mullet learn to feed on that, so meat scraps work well in harbours , get friendly with your butcher, the saw meat is also used for mullet fishing. Use pieces of fish with the skin removed, so that the flesh takes that quality that mullet seem to prefer. It’s not unusual for mullet to readily take skinless pieces of fish bait, but to totally ignore baits with some skin still attached. You need to educate the fish to learn to eat what it is you have in mind to use as bait, fish farm pellets also work well.
I’ve heard that maggots are good too!
Yes, they can be deadly, but only where (and when) the mullet expect them, same again you need to get the fish to know the bait so feeding the same spot as often as you can will get you results. Mix maggots in your ground bait as free offerings then present two or three maggots on a hook.
Does Ground-Baiting work for mullet?
Yes, it’s essential!
Bread crumbs is the ground bait to be used for mullet mixed with a good amount of rotten cheese. Some very good ground bait bags which can be bought from your tackle shop are also a quick and easy solution. Some anglers will also add a tin of sardines, liquidised mackerel, liver, powdered milk and any kind of protein source you can think of in powder or liquidised form.
Around piers and harbours, where the water is over 9 meters deep it’s best to mash two or three loaves of fresh bread crumb in a bucket, add your cheese and then empty this into an onion sack and lower the sack down to the bottom of the seabed. Do this every day for 2 or 3 days before you go to fish.
Fish close to the sack, using the running float method described above.
The mullet will follow the trail of bread particles escaping from the mesh and hopefully find your hook bait.
When the water is still, with little current, that the bread bag ceases working so effectively, it’s a good time to hand feed crumbled bread too.
When fishing the open sea, use a large kitchen spoon to regularly flick small amounts of ground bait into the fishing area, close to the rocks, but be careful of sending out too much in one go, as the mullet will follow the ground bait cloud down current and out of your fishing area.
Mullet ‘learn’ fast !
It may take them a while to realise what good food your bait is if they aren’t ‘educated’ to it, but a few days of free offerings and they will get ‘turned on’ to the bait.
In harbours and marinas, and places where mullet anglers regularly fish, they are probably already feeding on any scraps that come by, but put out sacks of bread regularly and they will quickly learn the places to visit in expectation of a meal.
Sometimes, when they have become used to feeding from bread sacks, they will appear almost as soon as a you ground bait your fishing area. Other times you may have to wait for an hour for them to find it. Regularly feed small balls of ground bait to your swim, with every cast, and when you have hooked a fish feed instantly to keep the shoal in the swim, otherwise the hooked fish will scare them off.
But they do seem to mark the spot, and return again.
Watch their meandering for a while, and see how, although apparently moving aimlessly, the shoal will habitually return again and again to certain spots, especially if they pause to feed for a moment, at those spots, each time around.
It’s my belief that fish that do feed competitively tend to attract predators with all their activity, and the predators are aware that, preoccupied with their feeding, they will make an easy meal.
Mullet don’t compete with other species for their usual food (algae) and are happy to browse a patch, move on, and come back to it, knowing that it won’t be gone if they don’t eat it now.
What is a mullet bite like?
That very much depends on their mood. Sometimes they just pick at the edge of the bait, hardly moving a float or rod tip, other times the float will disappear and sail away.
Knowing just when to strike can be a real problem.
In clear water, I’ve watched mullet swim off, holding the bait by the edge of the bread-flake, towing the float down behind them. A strike would be totally ineffective until the hook is actually in the fish’s mouth. The trouble is that they often let go when they sense the drag of the float and tackle and realise all is not well.
I’ve watched them suck in small pieces of silk-weed and in an instant eject it. I assume that in that instant that the weed is in their mouth, they suck out the micro-organisms from within the weed.
Particularly if they aren’t used to bread, they will treat it like silk-weed, giving a lightening fast bite that is almost impossible to hit.
In the marinas that I usually fish, bites are often shy and tentative and unsuccessful strikes leave me wondering whether it’s just fry attacking my hook-bait (which they often do). Particularly as re-baiting and re-casting can immediately resume the float-bobbing antics of whatever’s lurking down there.
But then a strike connects, and I’m then in no doubt that it is a shoal of shy biting mullet that have been having fun with me!
Although you can take many fish in this way, during a session, thin lips are generally smaller than thick-lipped mullet, and do not fight as nearly as spectacularly as thick-lipped mullet do.
I often see mullet out of casting range of a float, short of using a really big float, how can I reach them and keep a sensitive bite detection?
In summer fish the controller method it is one of the most effective methods around, winter fishing at long distance I would opt for loaded wagglers.
For ground-baiting at distance, use a catapult; throwing stick (a piece of plastic piping can be effective. Push it into bread mash, then with it partly filled with bread mash flick it energetically at the area you are ground baiting); or long handled spoon.
I’ve heard that mullet fight exceptionally hard, is that true?
I doubt that there is another fish species in our harbors that fights quite so hard.
Typically, there is a period, just after being hooked, when a mullet is perplexed. Don’t be fooled!
After around 10 or 15 seconds, the fish will wake up and it will be quite a long, arm-aching time before it will be ready for the net.
The colder the water, the harder mullet seem to fight and the bigger the fish. Winter fish are full of muscle as the fish would have lost all its fat over the winter, but the bigger fish seem to bite.
I've had some pretty disappointing fights from some mullet, and hooked one of similar size from the same location shortly afterwards that has given me real problems to land.
Size is not a reliable guide to an individual fish's fighting qualities, though it must be said that a hard fighting 1 kg fish is a totally different proposition to a hard-fighting 2kg mullet.
Each fish seems to fight in a different way and, although there are features that typify a mullet fight, every fish will have a different repertoire.
Only some will go for the late high speed charge, most will put up a dogged fight.
Fishing from a low pontoon, or from the bottom of steps etc, close to the water's edge, in deep water, is probably the best situation to allow a mullet to demonstrate its fighting qualities.
But if you manage to keep the mullet close in, beneath your rod, you have the kind of dogged fight that is a test of stamina for you both.
It's when you are playing the fish from low down, and at some distance, that things start to get really interesting.
Although mullet can sometimes be netted during the initial period of confusion, that can be a big mistake, as you will have a fighting fish to contend with as you try to unhook it etc! That is definitely not good for the fish’s welfare, or your state of mind J!
A lively fish out of the water can give you plenty of problems. Mullet can really wriggle, and loose scales means that they are hard to hold and keep still.
Scales shed everywhere, and a dropped and damaged fish are the penalties of netting a fish that isn't fully played out before netting.
Fortunately, mullet aren't intelligent fighters, seemingly preferring to keep clear of obstacles and carry on the fight in open water.
How best to handle a mullet, is there anything I need to be aware of?
Mullet wriggle, even when well played out. Their easily detached scales make them hard to grip securely, and they can be damaged if dropped, or even if allowed to wriggle on a fish unfriendly surface.
I always use my landing net to lay the fish on. The surface that the fish is laid upon needs to be wet.
Laying the fish on the landing net folded over the fish will calm it whilst you find your camera/scales etc.
Have a large disgorger and a pair of forceps handy for easy hook removal, especially if a fish has been hooked well back in the throat, or in a particularly awkward place.
Before handling the fish, make sure that your hands are wet.
When lifting a fish for a photo, it’s best not to lift it too high, in case it gives one of those unexpected wriggles. It’s best to have the photo taken whilst you are kneeling down. Stretch your arms out and the fish will look bigger in the photo in proportion to you in the background J!!
Particularly if a fish hasn’t been fully played out, it can ‘swim’ right out of your hands! This is like launching a torpedo, the fish landing several feet away! I’ve found that holding a fish, with a finger poked into its mouth, prevents this happening.
Try not to keep the fish out of the water for too long.
If you’ve played a specimen for a while, both you and the fish are likely to be tired out, and both of you will need a rest before weighing and photographing commences.
When you return the fish, it will almost certainly need nursing a while, until it’s strong enough to remain upright and swim away under it’s own power. Keep the fish held by the ‘wrist’ of the tail, and pointing its head up current. Only when you are confident that the fish is fully recovered, let go, and watch the grey ghost fade back into the depths.
One of the most exciting experiences of mullet fishing!
No matter how careful I net and handle a mullet, there’s always a few scales left in my net!
Mullet scales are designed to detach easily.
That way, when they are grabbed by a predator, it is left with a mouthful of scales as the grey torpedo disappears into the distance.
If you want an idea of how old the fish is, keep the scales and use them to count the rings on the scales.
Although it’s hard to get an exact ‘reading’, rings represents a year of the fish’s life.
When times are good for mullet (summer) and the fish is growing well, the ring will be broad. Hard times (winter) are represented by narrow rings. Exceptionally good summers produce exceptionally broad rings, great for calibrating your dating.
Rather than struggling to identify rings with a magnifying glass, I use my scanner.
Try scanning in the scale, at maximum resolution, then printing the image out expanded to A4 size Then mark each ring on the printout with a pencil. When you’ve done the best you can, count the pencil marks. You may well be amazed at the age of the fish you’ve caught (and hopefully released!). File them and keep a record of your catches.
What depth do mullet feed?
Mullet feed at any depth in the water column, sometimes sucking at the almost invisible, but nutritious scum that forms on the surface in calm conditions, other times they will be found down deep, sucking at the mud on the bottom.
Sometimes you will find them in water that barely covers their backs, other times they will be found in really deep water.
You need to work out where you think the mullet will be feeding. Where would they be expecting to find nutrient rich mud, algae covered rocks, seaweed, etc.
The good news is that, if you are putting in plenty of loose-feed, in the right place, they will come to feed on it. So throwing bread mash will have them feeding near the surface, and a bread-bag will attract them from the depths to feed from the mesh.
What species of mullet can I expect to catch?
In our sea, you are likely to encounter three species of mullet.
Chelon labrosus is the hard-fighting thick lip mullet. This is the largest of the three, and the one most commonly fished for, often caught about 1kg, with a 2 kgs fish a real possibility. Bigger mullet can be caught around the several fish farms based around the island, these can reach heavy weights some up to 6 kgs, a little boat would be required to tie up to the perimeter rope and running float method would be the best to use, bread paste is the better bait in this method.
Liza ramada is the smaller thinlip, often encountered in large shoals and moving well up into estuaries. Often thicklips will be seen as solitary large fish in amongst a shoal of thinlips. Thinlips can be caught in large numbers during a session, especially when targeted with a small bait,using prawn meat as bait. But they are smaller than thick lips and I believe that they don’t fight so hard as thicklips
Liza aurata the golden-grey mullet, are the smallest of all and are also quite rare. They are distinguished by golden spots, one on each side, on the gill covers.
Where’s the best place to fish for really big specimen fish?
They probably grow big when they no longer have to spend their energy fighting strong currents and find themselves in a food rich environment, so look for any places locally where the fish are sheltered from the sea. Harbours and marinas are always my first choice, especially when a restaurant is close to the edge of the sea.
Do any other species take bread baits meant for mullet?
Yes, bream love it! And they can snip your hook length clean off without hardly moving the float.
Bass can also take a bread bait. (A hooked bass will usually immediately give several strong runs, but will quickly tire, whereas a mullet will take a little while to wake up initially, but then seems to grow stronger and stronger, and more organised as the fight progresses).
When can I expect to catch mullet?
Mullet don’t seem to feed when the water temperature is below 10C. In the warm water of power station outfalls they can be caught all year round, fishing close to the power station creek can always produce a good sized mullet..
What kind of weather is best for mullet fishing?
I would always say the best time to catch mullet would be after a strong North East wind, a day later after the sea has settled. The mullet seems to lose all its shyness and bites are constant.
However I always seem to do well in warm weather, early in the morning just before sunrise, big mullet can be enticed to feed on pieces of fresh bread flake catapulted out far and then presenting a controller float with flake is best.
Bright, cloudless days can be unpredictable. Sometimes the fish just don’t want to play, sometimes they do.
I think that the worst mistake is to look out the window and think to yourself ‘it doesn’t look like mullet fishing weather today’. Every day is a fishing day no matter what the weather.
Sometimes I see mullet all around, and I’ve caught them before so it’s not a case of them not being ‘educated’ to my bread, but they simply ignore my hookbait and free offerings. What’s going on?
Mullet have times when they are inclined to feed, and times when they are not. That can be extremely frustrating, watching fish after fish swim over your groundbait, and passing your hookbait, ignoring it.
At other times, they seem to be preoccupied feeding on something other than what you are offering them.
The good news is that when a fish starts to feed, that ‘switches on’ the whole shoal.
If you can see fish, make sure that there is food for them. Sooner or later one fish will begin to peck at it and that will set the whole shoal off.
I’ve tried, but I simply can’t seem to catch a mullet • why?
With most species, and particularly with experience of fishing for other species, you just need to learn the basics, fish in the right place, at the right time, with the right tackle and bait, and you will catch.
Mullet can be a bit more difficult than that, and in truth it’s often hard to determine why.
Some people new to mullet are soon catching, some people really struggle to catch their first fish.
You can’t just bait up, cast out, lay down your rod and wait for the bites to come, chatting to your mate.
You have to concentrate on what you are doing, on the conditions and how to respond when these change, how your bait is behaving in the flow, looking for signs of feeding mullet and being constantly ready for that moment when the float gives that hint of unnatural movement.
You need to be aware that, although you might not be able to see any mullet, they may be there, watching you.
Avoid moving your rod about over the water, or casting a shadow across your fishing area.
All of this, and more, comes easily to some anglers, it’s an unconscious part of their nature. To others comes only frustration as they try to figure out why they don’t get the bites.
Try fishing with an experienced mullet angler, watch listen and learn.
Hooking a mullet, and landing it is another thing.
In the club to which I belong, it’s almost a rite of passage that you lose the first two fish you hook. Nothing quite prepares you for those sudden explosive short runs, just as you think the fish is tiring, or that sudden gain of energy mullet find when they should be weakening, and always just when you are the one who’s becoming tired.
If fish are lost too often, and you are not sure why. Look to the hooks you are using. They need to be really sharp, short-shanked, wide-gaped and strong.
Are mullet good to eat?
Most people who have tried mullet will tell you that they taste pretty bitter, though I’ve come across a few people who seem to like them.
Knowing how to prepare them is part of the answer, it is very important to remove the outer skin and just cook the flesh, so is the secret of cooking them.
For my part, if I want a fish to eat, there’s certainly fish that taste a lot better and which are far easier to catch.
The other problem with eating mullet that you need to remember is that they are a long-lived species, often frequenting polluted marinas and sewage out-falls.
Feeding mainly by ingesting mud from the bottom, and passing that very slowly through their long digestive tracts, and remembering that a 2kg fish has been doing that for the last ten years, I reckon that there has been plenty of time for dangerous pollutants to build up in mullet flesh.
Even if they tasted as nice as lobster (say), personally I’d still give them a miss, having seen them feeding enthusiastically on what comes out of the sewage discharge pipe!
Because they are such a slow-growing, late spawning species, most mullet anglers are happy to return all the fish they catch. Recaptures are quite common and if you dream (as most of us do) of catching a real specimen from the marks you fish in future years, you need to return these hard-fighting fish. There are fish to be caught for eating, and fish to be caught for sport. Mullet are definitely a sports fish, not an eating fish.
Information by Robert I Attard
KSFA members 2011
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