Ultimate Guide to Mullet Fishing: How to Catch Mullet fish, The Best time to catch Them
A lot of people enjoy the thrill and excitement of catching Mullet. It can be frustrating trying to pin them down as mullet fish is one of the toughest to catch. They are extremely active and frequently jump out and in to the water. There are a lot of ways to catch mullet and one of these could be the best for you or the best for a particular situation.
Whether you are catching mullet fish to use as bait for a more attractive catch or as a main dinner dish, (smoked mullet fish is truly deliciously) there is so much fun in mullet fishing for both adults and kids. It will give you the satisfaction of catching a fish you have never caught before.
In this guide you will learn everything you need to know about mullet fishing – the best places to catch them and the best ways to catch them. You will learn more about mullet fish- their characteristics and how they thrive. More importantly, you will learn about the techniques of the pros!
Remember though that when you are just starting with mullet fishing, you will be experiencing a lot of hits and misses. Results are not always achieved overnight. It is the goal of this ultimate guide to limit those “misses.” Everything that will be shared have been tried and tested.
What is Mullet Fish?
Mullet is a Mediterranean fish. It is an oily type of fish that is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals. It is best to eat mullet fish within the day it was caught as it easily gets degraded.
The mullet fish has a long and rather big body. They have a silvery color and have large scales. They have fork-like tails and have two dorsal fins that are far apart from each other. They also have large scales on their sides. The two front fins have four spines. They have a strong stomach and long intestines. They have a small mouth with teeth.
Mullet can be found in all parts of the world particularly in the tropics and sub-tropics. They can generally live in salt water. They also inhabit inshore shallow waters. They love dark and cloudy waters in estuaries. The sea is their real home, though and that is where you can often catch them.
These silver-like fish are 1 to 3 feet long. A school of mullet can often be spotted jumping from the water. But since mullet love to juggle from one habitat to another, they can be hard to find and catch.
Mullet fish are vegetarians. Fish do not have gizzards but the mullet does. Their gizzard grinds and digest the plants they eat. They are often seen rummaging through mud or sand in search of small plants and animals. They also feed on floating algae and other aquatic plants that are in the surface.
Types of Mullet Fish
Sea mullet shift from being scarce to being in abundance. Of late, they have been abundant and are good big fish catches. They go by the scientific name of Mugilcephalus.
The Sea Mullet is characterized by being mostly covered with fat and transparent eyelid. Adult sea mullet have three spines in their anal fin with 8 or sometimes 9 soft rays. It also has dorsal fins that are far away from each other. They have a torpedo-shaped body.
When mature they can be about 10 pounds in weight. They have a mouth suspended from the side and a pointed nose making it easy for them to prey on mole crabs and sand worms at the sea bottom.
Sea mullet can be found almost in any part of the world mostly in inshore areas making them an ideal catch for surf casters. They are one of the better tasting inshore water fish. For their size, (no size limit) however, they are one of the hardest fish to catch.
If you want to catch a good number of sea mullet, try the beach. They abound in piers and surf, too.
Finger mullet is used as bait for a more attractive catch. They are a favored baitfish, for bluefish, cobia, puppy drum and other bottom fish. They can be used as baits either in chunks or in strips but are often used in chunks or cut in half. They, however, require more preparation than most baitfish. These mullet can be mostly found in coastal waters of the Gulf. Fresh finger mullet can be easily found in summer and fall. They can be found frozen for the rest of the year.
Southern King-fish is the real name of ground mullet. Its scientific name is Menticirrhusamericanus. Its name can be misleading as it is often less than 2 pounds and only about 16 inches long. In the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, they are most often referred to as a whiting. They are considered as recreational species thus they are easily spotted and caught.
This mullet is often caught at the bottom with the same bait used for the white trout. However, unlike a white trout, it can seldom be caught with an artificial bait. Because of their small mouth, smaller hooks are used to catch them.
Why Do Mullet Fish Jump Out Of The Water So Much?
When you are out on sea in your boat and see a fish jump out of the water and back with a splash, chances are what you saw was a mullet. Mullet are known for frequently jumping out of the water. Old timers and biologists have several theories about this behavior.
Theories from Fishing Forum
A forum commenter says that old timers told him mullet jump out of the water because they are being chased and he believes this theory. He says that when he was fishing at 15 feet he saw a large Red swimming in front of his boat. He then saw 4 mullet heading toward his boat. With so much speed he saw the Red chase one of the mullet. He missed the mullet because with his same speed, the mullet jumped out of the water.
Another commenter says mullet jump out of the water just for fun or for some other reasons unknown to many. He says there are two ways mullet jump. Mullet run away from a predator with low multiple jumps changing direction as they jump. They also make a backflip. If they are not being chased, they make high jumps.
What Biologists Say
Biologists say mullet jump to avoid a predator and for aerial respiration. When avoiding predators, mullet simultaneously jump on groups. They jump with an upward position and smoothly re-enter the waters.
The second type of mullet leap is often done by only one mullet at a time. It involves a slow and short jump. It will flip on its back and on its side. They also often roll at the surface of the water or swim with their head held high above the water. This, biologists say is the mullet’s way of getting some air into their pharyngobranchial organ. With that stored air, mullet can survive concentrated low oxygen underwater conditions.
The aerial respiration theory have been getting a lot of support. The number of jumps mullet make are connected with how concentrated oxygen is in the water. Mullet make more jumps with when oxygen level is low. Mullet jump more during the day because they get food from bottom sediments with low concentration of oxygen.
The most common theories though of why mullet jump are to avoid predators, to break eggs during the season of spawning and to shake off parasites from their body.
When is the Mullet run in Florida? – Best Time to Catch Mullet
The Mullet Run is a mass exodus of mullet southward before spawning on the offshore. Millions of mullets leave their safe haven in North Florida and migrate to the south. The Mullet Run happens every late August until the middle of November. It peaks in mid-September all the way to the end of November.
Why the Exodus?
As temperatures in in the northern waters start to drop and days tend to be shorter, mullet go on a mass exodus southwards along the Atlantic coast where waters are warmer. In warmer waters, algae and grass still grow. Since mullet are solely herbivorous, they need to be in an area where their food is constantly available.
By early October they reach the waters of South Florida. They migrate as a large school making them so tempting to predators especially game fish. During spring and early fall, mullet feed themselves on the waters of the coast of Southwest Florida.
In Southern Florida, female mullet fatten themselves and get their stomachs full with red or yellow roe (a world renowned prized egg delicacy). Male mullet on the other hand get their stomach full with roe fertilizer which does not have any economic value.
Effect on Fishing
Mullet tend to come in droves. There are days when you can barely see any. There are days though that a gargantuan size of mullet darken and cover the entire water as far away as your eyes can see.
The migration of mullet to the Southeast coast is a major event for fishermen. Along the Atlantic side, Florida has the privilege of being the most spectacular area. It is in this area where anglers see large schools of mullet swimming through inlets and beneath bridges which attract game fish feeding on them.
During the Mullet Run, mullet come in all sizes ranging from finger mullet (a few inches long) to the bigger roe mullet that weigh several pounds. The huge number of mullet during the fall in the Inter Coastal Waterways and the surf send a lot of other fish in a state of euphoria.
Mullet are a feast to the bigger predator fish (Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, large ladyfish) and also for fishermen who take advantage of non-stop fishing during this season. Thus during the Mullet Run, fishermen also feast on the bigger fish since they are in the area for the mullet fish.
The exact reason why mullet migrate every season and the areas they head to is still a mystery. What is certain is each fall countless mullet migrate from Georgia, Carolinas and Florida to head to the beaches of the southern Atlantic Coasts.
What Does Mullet Fish Eat?
Mullet feed from the bottom of saltwater. They thrive on algae, detritus (debris / litter), plankton and all sorts of aquatic vegetation. Using their spade-like lower jaw, mullet scrape whatever they can from rocks and eat them too. With the use of their teeth and gills they strain digestible plants and animal matters they find on the sea floor.
When eaten, the taste of mullet is dependent on the surroundings they thrive in. Swimming in polluted waters can give the mullet an unsavory taste. Just like chicken, mullet have gizzards which they use to grind the vegetable they eat for easy digestion.
Best Bait for Mullet
Mullet are known to be difficult to catch but mullet fishing has become popular among a lot of people. To be able to get a good catch of mullet, you need to know about their characteristics and what they normally feed on. There are a lot of baits and styles that can be used to catch mullet.
• Chumming the Water
Mullet will eat any food they find in the water. They will take any conventional bait as long as they are in tiny bits of pieces and in a small hook.
They, too get attracted to a particular area where food is available. You may use this knowledge to make a chum to prepare for mullet fishing.
What you can do is place some bits and pieces of food in a mesh bag, detergent release bag or stockings for storing the food. Dip it on the water where you intend to fish. Do this techniques a few days before fishing so you can regularly gather mullet in the same area.
• Bread Flakes
Bread flakes are an ideal bait for mullet. The best you can use is the cheap white bread because they bite the hook well. Take a chunk of white bread, attached it to the hook leaving the hook point clear.
Before fishing, throw in a few chunks of the bread bait and see how fast mullet will go and suck up the bread. Once you see the mullet taking in the bread on the surface, it is time to fish.
Processed Food as Bait
Mullet eat any food people eat. It is therefore not difficult to use the right bait when catching mullet. Cheese, hotdog and sausage can be perfect baits. When using these processed foods as bait, use a lightweight fishing line and place the processed food you have on the hook.
There are also other food you can use. Leftovers can make perfect baits for mullet. Whatever food bait you choose, just make sure to prepare them in small bits and pieces, similar in size to the mullet’s mouth.
Mullet love maggots, too. Hook the maggot through its skin (preferably on its butt) so it will keep on wiggling and will be lively. Live bait is always best for bait fishing.
Maggot bait can last for a couple of weeks as long as they are kept in low temperatures (not freezing). Be mindful though when storing maggots in the fridge. Wrap them in a good plastic bag, seal well and label them properly.
Maggots are really good mullet bait. A lot of anglers, including the pros, use them.
• Mackerel Flesh
A lot of anglers say their priced mullet have been caught with mackerel flesh as bait. It is best used as a bait without skin. Smaller mullet though can still be caught with the mackerel’s skin intact.
A favorite technique with mackerel is to fillet it. Keep its swim bladder and giuts so it will float. Cast it without any weight on a spare rod and make it float in the water. Mullet will surround the cast of the floating mackerel and eat a small piece.
You can also use rag worms as baits but small cubes of skinless mackerel is still the best.
Natural Bait for Mullet
If processed baits are not your thing, then you can always use natural baits. Natural baits are also great for catching mullet. Mullet prefer small insects and larvae. Meal worms, small larvae and small insects are most effective. You may also go for earthworm and night crawler.
If you choose to go for natural baits, you need to use smaller hooks. The hook should be proportionate to the bait and not bigger. Make sure too that the bait is small enough to fit into the mouth of the mullet.
Mullet eat a lot of algae because they are basically vegetarian. As a matter of fact, algae are their favorite food. Twist some algae all over the hook. The mullet will eat the algae and by mistake, also the hook. Some anglers have been able to catch some mullet by throwing in some worms in hooks in the middle of algae beds.
Mullets are always in a large school near food sources. They are easily spotted but difficult to catch because they are overly active. They are fun to find and catch, though because of the challenge they bring.
How to Catch Mullet Fish
How to Catch Finger Mullet with Cast Net – Freshwater Mullet
Cast netters often target finger mullet. A cast net is a circular-designed net with a weight at the bottom. It is thrown to a school of finger mullet. As the cast net hits the bottom, it covers and traps finger mullet. The thrower pulls up the cast net and opens it. Cast nets are easy to find and comes at an affordable price.
How do Cast Nets Work
Throw the net with force and it will make the lead line open flat. The lead weights will bring the cast to the bottom. The brail line is then pulled to allow the lead line to close like a pouch within the net. The “pouch” will hold and trap the finger mullet. Pull the cast net out of the water. Open the lead line to release the catch.
How to Choose a Cast Net
Choose a cast net that is the correct size and material for finger mullet. An ideal cast net for finger mullet would be a ½ inch mesh with a diameter of about 8 or 10 inches. If you do a lot of fishing with different fish and would want to have only 1 cash net, a 3/8 square is versatile cash net.
Remember that the bigger the opening and the thinner the diameter of the cast net the faster it will sink. The more weight it has in a short compact and round shape, the faster it will sink, too.
How to Catch Mullet with a Fishing Pole
This is the most common way of catching mullet. All you need are a fishing pole and bait. A small line and an equally small hook are perfectly fine. The best baits for mullet when using a fishing pole are bread, algae and flies.
When using a fishing pole you can either throw the fishing pole then wait for a mullet to bite the bait or wait for mullet to appear and throw the pole. As you throw the bait, a lot of mullet will fight to get to the hook. Of course only one mullet will eventually win and it will be your catch.
Despite being difficult to catch, it is thrilling to catch them. You just need to load yourself with a lot of patience and practice. One surefire way of catching a mullet is through a mullet trap and here is how to make one.
- Get hold of a container with cover big enough to hold at least 10 mullets of average size.
- Cut a hole in the center of the cover big enough for the mullet to fit.
- Place some weight into the container. Small rocks would be ideal.
- Place some bread crumbs into the container. These will be your bait.
- Position the trap in an area you have discovered to have an abundance of mullet. Since you are working with a container trap, knee deep water would be a convenient spot.
- Position the trap making sure it will not float to the surface. The base of the trap should be buried deep enough, at least about 4 inches.
- In about 5 to 10 minutes, mullet will start entering your trap.
This is a simple, easy and convenient way to catch a lot of mullet at a time.
What Does Mullet Taste Like? Can You Eat Mullet Fish
A mullet has a firm texture. It has a distinct and strong taste with an oily and moist flesh. The oil content of mullet varies depending on the season it was caught. During migration season up to the time of spawning, their oil content is at its highest. For a milder flavor, remove its skin to trim off some of its oil content.
Is Eating Mullet Fish Healthy?
Mullet has been a source of nutrients in Europe dating back to the Roman period. A lot of health benefits can be derived from eating mullet.
· Daily Nutritional Requirement
Mullet makes a nutritious and delicious dish. Its nutritional content can help meet your daily nutritional requirement. When eaten as a side dish, it can give you more appetite.
· Carbohydrate Content
Carbohydrates aid in the metabolic process of the body. The carbohydrate content of mullet can help provide the power your body needs. So does their fat and protein contents.
· Protein Content
The protein content in mullet can help enhance the healing of wounds. Protein has the ability to regenerate dead cells in the body to facilitate fast healing.
· Fatty Acids Content
Mullet contain a lot of fatty acids which can be good to maintain healthy hair and skin. Sufficient fatty acids in your diet can prevent skin flaking and drying.
The nutritional value of every 4 ounces of edible and raw portions of mullet is as follows (Source: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services):
- Calories : 130
- Calories from Fat : 35
- Total Fats : 4 g
- Saturated Fats : 1.5 g
- Cholesterol : 55 mg.
- Sodium : 85 mg
- Protein : 21 g
How to Clean and Eat Mullet Fish
Seldom do people talk about mullet as a gastronomic delight. However, in as far as coastal dwellers are concerned; they are savored for their firm, slightly fat flesh and roe.
Mullet come in a variety of colors and sizes. Notwithstanding, they still have the same anatomy, thus they all can be cleaned in pretty much the same way.
· Mullet Fillet
Although mullet can be cooked whole, the simplest way of cooking it is to make them into fillets. It is simple to fillet mullet.
- Position mullet in a cutting board and hold its tail.
- With a knife blade, scale the fish starting from the tail all the way to the head on both sides.
- Wipe off any loose scales. You can forego of this step if you plan to skin the mullet.
- Firmly hold the mullet on its middle body.
- Vertically cut along the gill plate all the way down to its spine.
- Horizontally cut the mullet’s back up to its tail. The fillet is now free from the ribs.
- Work on the ribs and pin bones until the neck as you did with the gill plate. The fillet will be free from its backbone.
- Work on the reverse side of the mullet for the second fillet.
- Remove the skeleton and head.
- Position knife on the fillet and slide it below the membrane and ribs.
- Skin the fillet if desired.
- Mullet fillet that is not over ½ thick cook both sides at the same time without the need for turning them.
Mullet fillet that is not over ½ thick cook both sides at the same time without the need for turning them.
· Smoked Mullet
Smoked mullet is one of the most favorite mullet dish. Here is how to get the fish ready for smoking.
- Remove the head.
- Do not remove the scales and skin of the mullet.
- Cut through the top fin side from the head all the way to the tail passing through the side ribs.
- The mullet will now be entirely open. The belly skin will keep it in one piece.
- Discard all internal organs and all membranes in the abdominal cavity.
- Rinse away the fat content.
- If to be eaten after smoking keep the tail intact otherwise cut off the tail for easy packing in storage bags.
- Mullet is now ready for smoking. Soaked mullet in brine solution of water and salt, refrigerate for about 30 minutes and grill with skin side down on a greased griller with cover. Grill at 1750 for about an hour.
For anglers who are out on the sea for days, smoking mullet is always their top choice.
Mullet can be smoked, grilled, baked, steamed, or broiled to get the best out of its rich flavors. Mullet cook fast so make sure not to overcook them. Here are some serving suggestions”
- Marinate mullet with salad dressing and bake, steam, or fry.
- Marinate mullet with lime-butter, season with salt and grill or broil.
- Steam, bake, broil or microwave cubeb mullet and add to your pasta or salad greens.
- Bake whole mullet with stuffing (vegetables, ground meat, shrimps or crabs would be great).
- Leftover cooked mullet can cubed or minced and added to soups, salads or sauces.
- The healthy and natural oils in mullet make it an easy match to any white wine.
Tips and trick
· Whole Mullet Rig -Finger Mullet Fish as Bait
Bait fishing is a technique that has been successfully used for ages and up until today it remains as the most productive type of fishing. With bait fishing an angler can sit back, relax and enjoy the entire experience while waiting for a fish to come and eat up the bait. A successful bait fishing needs to have the right bait (live is the best) and the right rig. Both are dependent on the kind of fish being targeted.
When you are preparing for a fishing trip, remember that as important as choosing the right bait (finger mullet is best) is getting the right kind of rig to present your bait. Tailor fit your rig to the area you are fishing, the bait used and the time of year.
With the right bait you will not only get a good quality catch, you will be getting the numbers, too. Use a fishing rig that works on the bottom when using finger mullet as bait. Go for a 2/0 hook for finger mullet between three to four inches long.
A whole mullet rig is widely used by anglers when catching large bluefish within the surf. It has a Styrofoam float that allows the bait to float even at the bottom. Floating bait will make it easier for the fish to find the bait.
There are a lot of live baits that appeal to fish in the offshore. No bait though comes close to rigged and live finger mullet bait. There is magic in a well-rigged finger mullet that makes them the hottest bait in town.
· How to hook live mullet?
The right placement of the hook is the secret to the success of live bait fishing. Being knowledgeable on the different places to hook the bait for different circumstances is highly essential. Keepingyour bait alive is also depends on where you place the hook. Should your bait be poorly hooked and the current drags it, your bait will drown and will be deemed useless.
A fish may refuse a bait when it finds something wrong with it, more so when they have other food choices. This can be frustrating.
So, how do you hook a live mullet? Detach the double hook. Pin the wire to the center of the mullet bait, all the way out of the vent. Re-connect the hook. The finger mullet can also be hooked through its lips or eyes. Hooking live mullet on its mouth will get it exposed and appealing to most fish. The technique is to have the mullet remain alive so it can naturally move.