Catch Fish with
For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).
Having fished for mullet on the Dorset coast for well over fifty years I'm well aware that they can be incredibly frustrating fish. The number of mullet I've landed is now well into the thousands but when it comes to understanding these fish I've still a long way to go. Of course the main problem is the fact that most mullet are essentially grazers on small particles of algae and detritus which are much too tiny to put on a hook. To consistently catch them you generally need to capitalise on the situations where they are weaned off their normal diet onto something big enough to use as bait.
Of course you can try to attract them and stimulate them to feed by using groundbait or shirvy in the form of mashed bread with or without the addition of fishy or meaty components. Normal float fishing or legering with relatively fine line and small hooks may then tempt them. Semi-natural forms of groundbait such as the contents of sewage effluents or waste from fish processing activity can do the job of 'getting them going' for you and even more productive can be their preoccupation with seaweed fly maggots or marine 'woodlice'. At times they can be tempted to take a ragworm baited spinner and even less frequent but equally interesting are the rare occasions when mullet actually feed on small fish and can be induced to take lures more suitable for the predatory bass. At times preoccupied fish can be relatively easy to catch but only if you've sussed out the techniques needed.
Over the years I've tried most of the known methods of catching thicklips and at times my failure to induce bites in the presence of huge feeding shoals has left me in despair. Most of my fishing pals would own up to having encountered the same problems and such a case occurred quite recently. My good pal Bill Fagg rang to ask whether I fancied an hour at the coast. It was a high spring tide in the evening just before dusk. Neither of us had been to the coast for a while due to the awful weather conditions so we were both 'rarin to go'. Although it's still a bit early in the year our objective was to spin for bass and with the sea temperature having risen to about 9 degrees C at least we felt we had at least a slim chance.
Both armed with spinning gear and soft plastic lures we set off along the shore. Almost at once we saw one or two nice fish jumping reasonably close to the shore. The leaping fish were clearly mullet but since bass and mullet often swim together we were encouraged. The sea was pretty calm and the sun was shining so everything looked promising for a pleasant session. After a while we noticed a few fish rolling and jumping quite close to where we stood and in fact we'd had one or two tentative plucks at the lures without hooking anything.
I suppose we'd been fishing for perhaps twenty minutes when Bill, who'd lagged behind me a bit, came along to tell me that there were a LOT of mullet feeding in the margin. I walked back with him and sure enough there were literally hundreds of mullet in tight shoals grubbing algae from the flat rocks in the breaking waves in water only a few inches deep. We spun through them, we spun beyond them, we spun past them, we switched lures - NOTHING! The sole result was a three pound plus mullet which I hooked in a tail-fin ray on a small Mepps. Not very satisfactory. I decided to give it a go the following morning with a light leger baited with little bits of fish.
I was on the shore at the crack of dawn with my leger gear at the ready. Although the fish were not as thick on the ground as the previous evening there were still plenty there - NOT A SNIFF. Now I was becoming irritated by my failure. I bought a few ragworm and that evening I went again. Just as on the previous evening tide the fish were there in vast numbers. I tried bits of ragworm on leger gear - NOTHING. I tried baited spinners but apart from a couple of followers and a good fish of about six pounds which wriggled off the spinner after being slid ashore - again NOTHING! The latter fish was hooked in the mouth but I wasn't convinced that it had taken the bait so as far as I was concerned it was a dismal failure.
The following evening I decided to try one last throw of the dice. My pals Nigel and Martyn came with me and I took the fly rod armed with a wet fly. Typically the tide was now too late and fish failed to come in come in - buggeration! Ah well, there's always the next set of springs isn't there?
Bill's picture of me desperately spinning with no result.
An accidental but chubby thicklip.
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"Fishing for Ghosts - Successful Mullet Angling"written with David Rigden IT'S AVAILABLE FROM -
ALSO THE NEW BOOK
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