Mullet Fishing 2017: Review

 


 
Despite best efforts over the past few trips, there have been very few opportunities for a hook-up, and activity has now diminished to the point where no mullet appear to be in evidence, the last few fish being seen on 26/11/17. I'm sure there will still be a few around, and maybe an afternoon high tide at a shallow location following a sunny morning and a mild overcast night may still yield a December fish. Here's a look back on what has been an exceptional year of mullet fishing.

Highs and lows     (in no particular order)

 

 
  • Starting with the usual massive 'positive', all of the mullet caught were released safely and successfully, again

  • In terms of fish numbers in the rivers, the year has been a very marked improvement over the massively-enjoyable 2016 season, with the number of mullet present and visible very similar to 2014, which was another truly excellent year

  • The overall number of fish caught has surpassed all past years' totals, reaching more than twice that of 2016, and with 19 additional mullet landed over and above the 2014 total, the previous highest

  • Unlike 2016, when the largest fish landed was 4lbs 14oz, this year has been a pleasing return to 'normal', with two six pound fish - 6lb 2oz on 20/08/17, and the second, 6lb 4oz on 04/10/17. In addition to these, there were three five pound mullet, the first at 5lb 0oz on 15/06/17, the second, 5lb 5oz on 11/09/17, and the last, 5lb 8oz on 09/11/17, which is now likely to be the last mullet of the season? - certainly a very good one to end on

  • The overall 'spread' of fish weights, i.e. the proportion in each weight band, was again different to most recent years, with a distinct spike in the 2 - 3lb range, and unusually, several fish of less than one pound

  • I was unable to start catching mullet earlier in the year than in 2016, with the first fish on 07/04/17, but this was only four days further into the season, and still a very positive start

  • Away from the river, there was a long list of matters requiring attention, and again, many of the sessions were largely unplanned. A good proportion of visits were initiated spontaneously, when time and events permitted. That said, the ability to be more selective about fishing days was a factor in this year's success, being able to choose to fish weekdays instead of weekends, and able to capitalise upon the most advantageous tides and weather

  • There were many truly wonderful fishing days to be enjoyed, especially the capture of the better fish described above, and also a couple of sessions where the number of mullet landed surpassed all previous endeavours

  • Despite occasional downpours of truly biblical proportions and a few horrendous soakings, there were again no real periods where the river water was overly coloured, and so fishing remained uninterrupted

  • As usual, a major factor this year was the wind, which the forecasters never seem to get right - neither the direction, nor more importantly, the wind speed (which is always greater than predicted, and sometimes markedly so)

  • Caught my final fish of 2017 on 09/11/17, at 5lb 8oz - a good one to end on, and one of the most memorable fights of the year

  • My best continuous 'run' of mullet landed without a lost fish was thirteen, during a year when a good number of mullet just didn't 'stay on'. Whilst I was able to land ten fish during the season at one venue, all very well hooked and none lost at all, I managed to land only two of eight mullet hooked at a location only half a mile down the bank. I gave this a lot of thought, and can only guess that the very fast bites at the second location were from cautious fish snatching at the bait - most of the lost fish shed the hook after only a few seconds

  • Achieved only some of the other objectives set:

  • The 'top 5' weight was the third highest, not far behind 2014 and 2015

  • The two six pound fish landed in 2017 both feature in the 'all years' top 10 - the '4th equal' and 5th best weights

  • The average weight per fish was lower than the best years, closely resembling the stats for 2013 and 2016

  • The proportion of successful trips was a significant improvement over 2016, and almost identical to 2014, which was the best year previously

  • The average number of mullet landed per trip was also in keeping with the best previous years, and a worthwhile improvement over 2016

  • Spent time fishing several new venues in 2017, including sessions in East and West Sussex at three new rivers / estuaries

  • I was able to consistently exceed the last and best year's monthly catch figures, and there was a distinct peak in August, exceeding even the 2014 total. Compared to 2016, the results were:

          -  April +3, May +6, June +4, July +2, August +21, September +5, October +7, November +2

  • Landed a slightly lower percentage of the mullet hooked than in 2016, and like last year, experienced a particularly poor sequence of outcomes late in the season, including (again) 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 power of the fish and the proximity of the pontoons and other snags made for an uncomfortable few moments and the inevitable slack line. In addition, there were lost fish where the bites were so lightning fast that I was probably on the verge of missing them completely, and consequently, didn't achieve much of a hook-hold?

  • There were three occasions when my determination not to lose a snagged fish got the better of me, and my reward each time was a pair of waders filled with water - thankfully during the summer months, and to be holding a mullet at the conclusion of the soap opera was adequate reward

  • Caught mullet at eight new venues, two of which I visited regularly, and which proved to be particularly productive

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

  • Learned a good number of new techniques and improvements - many sincere thanks to MarkS for his generosity, regarding both venues and tips, and for his excellent company

  • Idiotic boat owners again generated some misery, usually with the amount of wash generated as they tore haplessly around the river - first prize goes to a jetski, who was chased up and down the river by the harbour master for half an hour of totally unfunny comedy. There was also an unaccompanied dog that disappeared with one of my loaves of bread, which wasn't at all appreciated, but the owner sadly wasn't there to learn from the encounter

  • Haven't revisited all of the targeted venues - to be continued in 2018

  • Still haven't caught a single thin lipped mullet, although there was almost a positive result again in 2017 - during one session, a reasonable-sized fish grabbed the lure hard enough to pull the rod tip round, but the hook failed to gain purchase - a rerun of 2017's closest 'miss'

 
  Other Notes

This year I've again 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. There was a period early in the year during which I used the Drennan Series 7 13' Tench / Specimen Float rod, due to a broken tip on the Power Carp Waggler, caused when I fell over on a slippery bank

I've again used a couple of reels - the Shimano Exage 3000SRC, and also the ABU 706 closed-face reel. Both have benefited from the regular use of generous amounts of Gibbs Lubricant, although the Shimano still experienced some serious corrosion problems; these culminated in a very uncomfortable total lockup with a fish on, during one session - fortunately, the mullet was still landed, somewhat against the odds. A total strip-down and some fairly aggressive cleaning has since got it up and running again

The 'Vass-Tex' waders have continued to be 100% reliable, and I would be happy to recommend them

Not far into the season, I replaced the Korum folding 28" landing net with a lightweight Keenets (?) 24" model, which has been in the cupboard since my last coarse fishing trip in 2010. This has a very fine mesh, which I believe will cause less fin damage and is less prone to dislodging scales

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


So that's pretty much it for 2017, but it's been a heck of a season, and it may be quite difficult to match these successes again in 2018. That said, we won't really know until this time next year, by which time, a very good number of these superb fighting fish will hopefully have put an alarming bend in the rod before gracing the net


 
Last updated 24.07.20