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Big Bend Florida Sportsman Guide

Fishing Tatics

Mullet Fishiní Goes Hi-Tech

By Capt. Ken Roy

Iíve never cared much for Mullet unless I caught them myself. Fresh Mullet are the favorite fish for most Crackers. Cast netting is fine and I caught quite a few in a gill net, way back when but I enjoy catching them on hook and line most of all. This sportsman guide has give me the opportunity to pass on some fishing tips for mullet.

Hook and line Mullet fishing is a time honored but dying family sport. Some times there are a bunch of folks sitting on coolers and 5 gallon buckets along the Cross Florida Barge Canal near the Florida Marine Patrol Station at Inglis. Access for fishing along the Withlacoochee River is very limited now days due to development. There are few places left to fish along the Wacasassa, Crystal, Homosassa, and Chassahowitzka Rivers and Mullet fishermen gather at these places. You will find Mullet fishermen all over Florida. Most of these folks donít mind you sitting down and watching. Just keep quiet and stay out of their way and you might learn something.

Standard equipment for these fishermen is a stiff cane pole with 5 or more #4 hooks baited with pieces of white plastic worm a small float and a sinker on the end of the line.

Standard procedure involves baiting (chumming) the area you are fishing with laying mash. (available at all area bait shops) If the water is clear, you watch for the Mullet to come to your bait. Some folks fish with 2 or 3 poles. I have a heck of a time with one pole myself. Detecting the light bite of the Mullet is a real challenge with this gear. The float barely moves. "Real" Mullet fishermen seldom miss. When a bite is detected, the fisherman sets the hook and yanks the Mullet out of the water in one smooth motion. A really good Mullet fisherman makes it look so easy that you just know you can do it yourself. WRONG!!! The technique isnít easy to master for most folks but every now and then, somebody catches on immediately.

You seldom see anybody fishing with rod and reel for Mullet. Cane poles are more efficient and are ideally suited for Mullet fishing.

I certainly canít claim to have invented fly fishing for Mullet but it can be done and it is an absolute hoot. Mullet will take a fly as readily as the plastic worm, perhaps even more so. A #4 or #6 white Woolly Worm is my fly of choice. Iíve tried a few other colors and white or tan works best for me.

I tie all of the flies I use and the Woolly Worm was one of the first I learned to tie. I always fish with at least 5 Woolly Worms on my leader. I use a 9í mono leader of 12# test. The bottom fly is attached to the end of the leader and the others are attached above it with dropper loops at 1í intervals. At the top of the leader I attach a tiny fluorescent float. This float suspends your flies above the bottom and act as a bite indicator too. One tiny split shot right at the eye of the bottom fly completes the rig.

Precious little casting skill is needed. In fact, a lot of casting equates to less time the flies are in the water for fish to bite. Simply cast into the baited area and watch your strike indicator. You do not need to add any motion to the fly at all. Just let it soak and move it only if it drifts out of the baited area. Strip and strike at the tiniest movement of the float. When you get lucky, the rod will take a satisfying bend and you will catch a Mullet. A large Mullet can really go on a light fly rod. After you master the technique, you may find yourself fishing off the bank more often.

A few drops of Anise or Vanilla flavoring in an small squeeze bottle with an ounce of water will give the flies a little taste. Maybe the Mullet will hang on little longer, maybe not. If anything, adding a little taste to the flies gives me more confidence.

Bleed the Mullet by cutting the gills and lay them on top of ice immediately and you have the makings for a Cracker dinner. Keep only enough for one meal because they are much better fresh.

Striped (Black) Mullet

sketch
 

Family Mugilidae, MULLETS
Mugil cephalus


Description: color bluish-gray or green above, shading to silver on sides with distinct horizontal black barrings, white below; fins lightly scaled at base, unscaled above; blunt nose and small mouth; second dorsal fin originates behind that of the dorsal fin.

 

Similar Fish: white mullet, M. curema; fantail mullet, M. gyrans (both white and fantail mullet have black blotch at base of pectoral fin, which is lacking in the black mullet).

Where found: INSHORE.

Size: roe mullet common to 3 pounds but in aquariums known to reach 12 pounds or more.

*Florida Record: n/a

Remarks: adults migrate OFFSHORE in large schools to spawn; juveniles migrate INSHORE at about 1 inch in size, moving far up tidal creeks; frequent leapers; feeds on algae, detritus and other tiny marine forms.

* The Florida records quoted are from the Department of Environmental Protection's printed publication, Fishing Lines and are not necessarily the most current ones. The records are provided as only as a benchmark.