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Mullet Fishing: Background


As a teenager in the south west of England, in Cornwall, I spent a lot of time fishing, firstly for trout, then some sea angling, before becoming an enthusiastic and regular coarse angler. I quickly came to realise that there was nothing that I enjoyed more than float fishing, particularly using light tackle and delicate presentation.

At Lostwithiel one day, at low tide, I was watching a large shoal of sizeable thick-lipped grey mullet moving over the river bed in a long, shallow run parallel to the railway line. I could see their white lips picking at the stones, and it looked like they were feeding. Inevitably, they ignored every offering that I drifted down to them, but the intense feeling of anticipation that they would take the bait was instantly addictive.

Later in the day, I saw another angler catch one of them, close to high water as the tide was running upstream. I couldn't believe the fight that the fish put up and the trouble that he had getting it into the landing net.

A few days after that, I fished a nearby spot at high tide, and caught my first mullet. Again, I couldn't believe the fight that I put up whilst it was playing me, and I was very relieved when it finally surrendered to the net - the fine-wire size 12 hook was a lot straighter than it had been when I put the bread flake onto it. That fish was 2lbs 12oz, and from that point I was truly hooked - mullet fishing became an obsession from that day.

Since then, I've enjoyed catching mullet from various piers, river estuaries and rocky coastal spots whilst I still lived in Cornwall, and in subsequent years, watched them at many places in absolute misery (rodless) whilst on family holidays in England and abroad.

Until recently, the last time I actually fished for mullet was again in Cornwall, whilst holidaying there in the early 1990s - I can remember landing a hard-fighting 3lb fish in the river at Lerryn, which was competing with the feeding ducks for bread thrown in by the other holidaymakers. I also caught a good few from the rocks at Charlestown, in the days before the sewage outfall 'problem' was addressed. Since then I've lived in parts of England which are away from the coast, and there hasn't really been enough time available for angling pursuits.

In late 2010, when the opportunity presented itself, I was keen to start spending time fishing again, and in August through to November of that year, I enjoyed 30 or 40 sessions at local inland waters. Using light tackle to catch a variety of coarse fish, I was also landing quite a few carp in the 3lb to 5lb band, probably over 40 in total. The first of these came as a total surprise on a single maggot, 1.5lb line and a size 22 barbless hook, and weighed in at 4lb 12oz. Aside from the times when I 'heavied up a bit' and fished specifically for carp, there were some other uneasy moments on the light gear. The last fish of 2010, in November, was a 7lb 14oz mirror carp on double maggot and a barbless size 16 hook.

Although this was excellent sport, more than anything, it served to remind me of the exceptional fight to be expected of the grey mullet - I couldn't help thinking that if some of these fish had been mullet, I would have been deep in some righteous s**t trying to land them - it was then that I decided that I needed to get back to the 'real stuff'.

Next steps, in 2011 >>>

Last updated 01.08.20