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Learn the secret for attracting this shy species onto your hook.

Mullet will excite and also drive you crazy – we’ve all seen them cruising estuaries, creeks and harbours, sometimes in huge shoals. Because they regularly swim near the surface, revealing their whereabouts, it would appear that they are bold. But the truth is they’re quite shy and can spook easily if disturbed by heavy feet or shadows cast across the water. The secret is to get them in a confident mood – almost fool them into feeling secure as they feast on the free offerings in the form of your bait!

The most common mistake made by anglers is thinking that as mullet swim by they can be caught. The reality is that they are most likely moving upriver, or downriver, to an area where they know food will be and trying to catch them at this time will be virtually impossible.

Now you have two choices. You can follow them to discover what they are seeking, then target them there with bait similar to what they are feeding on. Or you can set up a new feeding ground by prebaiting swims in areas they pass through. This will get them into the habit of stopping at this spot, which is now also an area where you can target them!

Using Your Loaf…

Depending on where you fish, bread is without doubt the best bait for mullet. Some areas they will feed on fish bait, but in the main lumps of dough are the winners. Bread is not only the perfect hook bait, it’s also great for groundbaiting. You can never have enough bread! Try to buy cheap brands as they’re more doughy and will hold on the hook better than more expensive and healthy bread! Also it will absorb additives put in the mix and, as you throw it into the water, it will disperse in such a way that creates a cloud of scent and attractors to draw the mullet in.

The best way to make groundbait is to mash up several loaves into a bucket, add a little sea water, some chopped-up fish scraps and a liberal sprinkling of fish oil – such as pilchard. Mix up the cocktail until it forms a paste with lumps, not too wet, and then throw in several handfuls where you intend to fish to get the swim going. When the fish show, begin to fish and pop in more groundbait in small amounts, a handful, at regular intervals… use the old adage ‘little and often’ as your guideline. This won’t overfeed the fish and will keep them in the swim and near the hook bait.

On The Bank…

It’s always advisable, if possible, to visit your intended mark loaded with groundbait and get the fish used to feeding there. When doing this you will often come across other anglers that you can quiz, and hopefully gain a little more local knowledge – every little piece of information can help you to locate the mullet, to give you the edge needed to catch them. It was while preparing my swim that I met John Revera, who was more than happy to talk about and share his experience. He had two rods out – one with legered bread and the other for trotting down under a float, allowing the bread to drift naturally on the current and hopefully into a mullet’s mouth. The tide was peaking and the current slowing, when I observed a fish out in the channel disturbing the surface. He doesn’t normally use groundbait, but gratefully accepted my offer to crumble a loaf or two uptide of him. The tide started to ebb and the floating portions of groundbait drifted towards his swim. Mullet appeared all around and were cautiously taking our offerings off the surface. Although John had a few takes, he sadly had no hook-ups, so we agreed to meet the following day to fish this prebaited swim for hopefully more confident mullet!

Round Two…

A dreary cold morning with heavy rain showers greeted us the next day. The tide was flooding and slowly filling the river, creating a pool at one point, where we decided to have a crack at the mullet, using Mepps spinners for any thin lips present while we waited for the water and fish to get to our swim. But weed became a nuisance and fish simply passed by on their journey up river – so a sprint upriver to our swim was in order, but ensuring we moved stealthily so as not to spook our quarry. John was soon in the water with his float tackle fishing bread, he also had the leger setup baited with a harbour-rag-and-bread cocktail. As the tidal water reached the river water, the flow rate eased and the first mullet was sighted. I tried to encourage them closer by adding groundbait and loose offerings.

Fish On!

A fish came up to feed on the floating bread, and John tried to get his bait to drift down towards the fish. As the bait drifted up to the fish, it was sucked under and it was game on! It stripped line from his reel, making the ratchet sing a tuneful note, and it made several, very fast, powerful runs before he brought it under control. I readied the landing net, but the fish saw me and sped off – our hearts were in our mouths at this time as too much pressure on the soft-mouthed mullet could prove disastrous! With great care, John continued to play the fish until it wallowed helplessly on the surface and netting was simple. A beautiful thick-lipped mullet of 3lb was in the bag! I hoped it would be my turn, so I floated bait slowly down river – but it had gone quiet – there were no fish visible. Had we disturbed these shy fish with our netting? But then the reason became apparent as we noticed that the river had coloured up and debris was floating by. As we were so far upstream, the rainwater had overpowered the sea water and the fish had moved back to the estuary mouth. We could chase them back, but we were tired. Nevertheless, we caught what we came for – an Ogmore mullet!

Optional Methods To Target Mullet…

You can spin for them using a small Mepps spinner. Simply cut off the treble hook and replace it with a single size 8 hook, attached by a small section of mono, and baited up with a maddie (harbour rag) – this is perfect for the thin-lipped mullet. Always fish as light as possible using a 4lb fluorocarbon line.

You can also target mullet on fly tackle! Bread flies, which are available in some tackle shops, are great bait – otherwise you can use small maggot imitations or shrimp flies fished near the bottom on a small hook attached to a 12 to 15ft fluorocarbon leader.

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