Now the weather has become unfavourable for the pursuit of mullet, it is worth looking back at the 2014 season, which hugely exceeded all
expectations for a number of important reasons.
Highs and lows (in no particular order)
First and foremost, a special mention is deserved for ScottG,
who has been a totally excellent and more than capable fishing companion throughout the year. Good knowledge, technique, opportunism and extreme
determination have meant that he has landed mullet on most occasions that we have fished, and I should thank him sincerely for all of the quality
'intel' that he's generously shared with me. By the end of the season, he had achieved some impressive catches comprising a long list of very good
fish, including his new personal best of 7lb 8oz plus a very impressive 6lb 11oz mullet - very nicely done.
All fish were released safely and successfully
Of the many highlights this year, I was very lucky to land three surprisingly large golden-grey mullet. The first, on
17/05/14, weighed in at 3lb 8oz, a new personal best and National Mullet Club
record, and only 0.5oz below the UK record for this species, which stands at 3lbs 8oz 8dr. Unbelievably, a second came on 03/08/14, this time only
one ounce less, at 3lb 7oz. The last of the three came on 11/09/14, at
Managed to catch two 6lb+ mullet - the first on 23/08/14, 6lb 8oz, the best fish since 2011, and the
largest mullet caught during the NMC's 'National Rover' competition, which ran over the Bank Holiday weekend of Sat 23rd / Sun 24th / Mon 25th
August. The second came on 09/09/14, at 6lb 5oz
Landed a few more fish over 5lb - 5lb 5oz on 11/08/14,
5lb 10oz on 21/09/14, and
5lb 2oz on 15/11/14, plus a good number of 4lb+ mullet, and a very satisfying number of '3s'
I was able to start catching mullet earlier in the year than in 2013, on 12/04/14 - up and running with a very welcome
4lb 1oz mullet
I was again able to spend much more time fishing this year
There were many wonderfully calm days to be enjoyed
Despite occasional rain, there were no real periods where the river water was coloured, and so fishing was not interrupted in
the manner we had seen a few years ago, during 2012
Caught my final fish of 2014 on 06/12/14, my first ever December mullet
Caught many more mullet than in 2013, by a very good margin
The best 'run' was 16 consecutive mullet hooked without a lost fish, or 10 consecutive successful trips
Achieved only some of the key objectives set
Improved upon past years' top 5 / top 10 total weights
Improved upon the last two years' average weight per fish
The proportional number of successful trips was an increase over that achieved in 2013
Caught more fish at each venue than in 2013, except at one past-favourite venue which I rarely visited
Caught more mullet per month during several (but not all) months than in 2013, with a spectacular peak of 28 mullet in total during August:
- Apr +3, May -1, Jun -1, Jul +4, Aug +16, Sept +0, Oct -2, Nov +3, Dec +1
Improved upon the ratio of trips to fish caught by a small percentage
Landed a higher percentage of the mullet hooked
Finally managed to catch a mullet at Fareham, where I first started off in 2011
I was again engaged in a number of truly epic fights, most of which ended well
Fell in only once - thanks to a stupidly irresponsible bait digger who left a large hole that was covered by the tide
Didn't get stuck in the mud at all, thankfully - a very welcome improvement over 2013
There were only two incidents where I had to wade in to free snagged fish, but on both occasions, I was in the river up to my shoulders -
although I finished up very soggy, things ended well each time
Caught mullet at seven new venues, some of which produced four of the five largest fish of the year
Was catching consistently at several of this year's primary venues
Continued to develop knowledge of the most productive states of the tide that can be fished
With increased knowledge, was able to catch fish during states of the tide which were previously unproductive, also in areas that
have not yielded fish in the past
Still haven't revisited all of the targeted venues - to be continued in 2015
This year I've used two rods (but only one at a time); the Drennan Power Carp Waggler continues to be favourite for most occasions, and I've added a
Drennan Series 7 Avon / Quiver for venues where legering is an option / necessity. There have been very few hook pulls this year, although I'm concerned
that some fish have been lost to weeds, boats, ropes and pontoons. As a consequence, I've recently changed my main-line for one offering better abrasion
resistance - there have been a few occasions where this has already paid off.
I've used just one reel almost exclusively this year - the Shimano Aero Super Match XT-7,
which has coped well with all sorts of unintentional abuse - this has been greatly aided by the regular use of
Gibbs Lubricant, which has miraculously brought the reel back from the dead
more than a few times.
Difficulty in catching fish at a couple of venues has meant some modifications to last years' methods for those particular circumstances,
and this has eventually resulted in some fish being caught that otherwise would not have been. I would say that the catalogue of techniques and the
understanding regarding when to apply these has significantly increased this year, also knowledge of the tidal states and optimal feeding periods etc.
- there are some locations where the appearance of a fish can be predicted with almost unbelievable accuracy.
Like previous years, there were a good number of thin lipped mullet very visible at some of the venues early in the season, although I've
seen fewer signs of them as the year progressed. I attempted to catch a thin-lip on a few occasions, and with modified techniques again, I
attracted far more 'follows' and some serious interest in the lures, whilst still totally failing to coax an actual 'take' from any of them.
There are a couple of venues where the swans have been more than co-operative, which has led to no stress at all and vastly increased enjoyment - a
particular pair have been an absolute joy to be around, surprisingly. That said, there is one 'family' that has consistently trashed session after
session, appearing with an eerie regularity just as the fish have been coaxed to feed. On every occasion, this has meant disaster, and it is depressing
to consider how many more fish might have been hooked were it not for this pair and their totally idiotic and suicidal cygnet...
I suspect that by now, at 14/12/14, many of the mullet will be gone again - I will be more than content to stay indoors and ignore the cold, wind
and rain, and spend some time thinking about the many, many totally superb days spent mullet fishing in 2014.