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Mullet Fishing 2016: Review

 
 
In previous years, towards the end of the season, there has been a steady realisation that it's coming to a close for another year. That has not been so of 2016, when at some point in November, it suddenly seemed that it had already been 'over' for a couple of weeks. Although it is usual for the mullet to be much less visible, if at all, patience and perseverance have previously led to some catches into December, but none have occurred of late - there has been not so much as a bite. Here's a look back on what has been another excellent year's mullet fishing.

Highs and lows     (in no particular order)

 

 
  • Starting with the usual 'positive', all fish were released safely and successfully, again

  • Spent an excellent few days in Devon, catching up with PhilW after so many years, and for once, the mullet fishing was of secondary importance. Nevertheless, several mullet livened up the fishing sessions, including this 3lb 3oz, and one of the locations fished was totally unique, in my past experience

  • Landed the 249th fish since I restarted mullet fishing in 2011 - a beautiful fish of 2lb 1oz, the last fish of the year, on 22/10/16; the 'milestone' 250th fish will now become the first of 2017

  • This season has been a marked improvement over 2015, with more mullet present and visible, and more opportunities presented

  • The overall number of fish caught was identical to 2015

  • Unusually, there were no five and six pound fish this year, apart from one landed by ScottG; my two largest were both 4lb 14oz, one being the 5th of the year, on 21/05/16, and the second, the 5th from the end, which was captured in the dark on 20/09/16

  • The fish captured on 06/10/16 was possibly the most exquisite mullet I've ever seen - 4lbs 2oz, absolute perfection?

  • The overall 'spread' of fish weights, i.e. the proportion in each weight band, was notably different to most recent years, being more like 2013, with a spike in the 1lb 8oz to 2lb range, and as mentioned previously, a lack of 5lb and 6lb fish. The number and proportion of 4lb fish was almost identical to 2015 (+1), and the same was true of the 3lb fish (+0)

  • Many congratulations to:

    - PhilW, topping off some excellent captures in Devon with several 4lb+ fish
    - ScottG, for an incredible run of almost-exclusively 4lb+ fish during the latter part of 2016
    - MarkS, for his first and subsequent thinlips on the lure, plus a totally unexpected large flounder (!)

  • I was able to start catching mullet earlier in the year than in 2015 - in fact, earlier than any previous year, with the first fish landed on 03/04/16 - only 1lb 5oz, but it was very good to see the 2016 season properly underway

  • Away from the river, it was an extremely difficult year, and so many of the sessions were totally unplanned; visits were initiated largely spontaneously, when time and events permitted. Two particularly productive weeks were missed, in late August and early October, as well as many other potential opportunities at peak times

  • The large golden-greys of 2014 didn't grace my sessions in 2016 (although a superb 3lb 12oz was caught - and released - in the same river that I usually fish, exceeding the UK record by 3.5 ounces) - maybe they will make a welcome appearance in 2017

  • There were still many truly wonderful fishing days to be enjoyed, including some of those inevitable sessions where the mullet absolutely wolfed down everything but the one piece of bread on the hook... One memorable highlight was seeing a whole bread roll being propelled across the surface by 'The Pig Mullet'

  • Despite occasional rain, a few truly horrendous soakings, and one particular day spent as far away from the rods as possible, during a thunderstorm, there were again no real periods where the river water was overly coloured, and so fishing remained uninterrupted

  • Another factor this year was the wind, again, which seemed to appear with considerable force and from any direction, even when the forecasts were favourable

  • Caught my final fish of 2016 on 22/10/16, at 2lb 1oz - I wasn't really expecting that to be the last, at the time, and lost just one more unseen fish on the following day - let's hope it was just a bass

  • My best continuous 'run' of mullet landed without a lost fish continued from 2015 and finally ended after #29, on 11/06/16 - at least there were two other mullet which ended up in the net on the same day

  • Achieved only some of the other objectives set:

  • The 'top 5' weight was the lowest of any year so far, due to the lack of 5lb and 6lb fish

  • The average weight per fish was lower than usual, again closely resembling the stats for 2013

  • The proportion of successful trips was almost identical to 2015

  • Spent time fishing several new venues in 2016, including the productive trip to Devon, and sessions in East and West Sussex

  • I was unable to match the last or best year's monthly catch figures; there was a deficit in three months

          -  Apr +2, May +1, Jun -1, Jul +2, Aug +4, Sep -3, Oct -4, Nov +0

  • Landed a lower percentage of the mullet hooked, and experienced a particularly poor sequence of outcomes late in the season, including three lost fish in a single session

  • I was again engaged in a number of epic fights, most of which ended well; sadly, there were a few occasions where all the 'heavy lifting' had been concluded, but the fish still managed to shake the hook or reach a snag

  • Very narrowly managed to avoid falling in or getting stuck in the mud, and only had to wade in once, this year - there were still a few very nasty moments, nonetheless. On one occasion, I can only say that the laws of physics took a day off when I overbalanced on a wall, overlooking the water, but still remained dry

  • Caught mullet at five new venues, and sadly lost an unseen fish at a sixth, when it shed the hook after just a few seconds

  • Continued again to expand upon knowledge of the most productive states of the tide that can be fished, including several new venues

  • Learned some new techniques and improvements - many sincere thanks to MarkS for his generosity, regarding both venues and tips

  • Idiotic boat owners again generated some misery, plus a couple of irresponsible dog owners, last seen chasing my bread downriver, as it raced away, gripped tightly in the slobbering jaws of their under-supervised and uncontrolled pets...

  • Haven't revisited all of the targeted venues - to be continued in 2017

  • Still haven't caught a single thin lipped mullet, although there was almost a positive result in 2016 - during one session, there were two fish which grabbed the lure hard enough to pull the rod tip round, but the hook failed to gain purchase

 
  Other Notes

This year I've relied upon two rods (but only one at a time); the Drennan Series 7 13' Power Carp Waggler continues to be favourite for most occasions, and I've used the Drennan Series 7 12' Avon / Quiver for sessions where legering is an option or a necessity

I've again used a couple of reels - mainly the Shimano Aero Super Match XT-7, and also the Shimano XT-7 VX. Both have benefited from the regular use of generous amounts of Gibbs Lubricant, which has miraculously avoided the inevitable short holiday in the wheelie bin on more than a few occasions

I replaced my previous pair of waders with some branded 'Vass-Tex'; these have so far proven an outstanding success and I would be happy to recommend them

Right at the end of the season, I also replaced my 30" 'equilateral' triangular landing net head with a (surprisingly) more manageable Korum folding 28" 'isoceles' triangular net; this is much narrower across the lip of the net, whilst still having the length between the lip and spreader to handle a long fish

The numbers of thin lipped mullet visible at some of the venues visited appeared to be back to the levels that would normally be expected

The 'swan situation' continued in line with previous years' experiences, with one particular pair continuing to be a very welcome sight and a pleasure to be around, and all of the others being an absolute nightmare, with many sessions abandoned as 'unfishable', and much fishing time lost

As always, it's with a good deal of sadness that I realise that all opportunities have probably now been exhausted. It seems only a short time ago that I was readying the tackle for the first visits to the river, with high hopes that 2016 would deliver in a manner that 2015 had not, and the year has now passed by in what seems like the blink of an eye. Despite the unavoidable and stressful interruptions, there have been some truly excellent mullet fishing sessions, and I look forward with great enthusiasm to the bright days of spring when the 250th mullet will be powerfully shaking its head at the first pull of the line


 
Last updated 01.12.17