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Golden grey mullet

Written by Ted Mange

Mullet seem to inspire alliteration more than any other fish, that's no surprise really considering the wealth of adjectives English supplies any author who succumbs to the temptation. Mythical, mysterious, marvellous, magical the list is almost endless. Mythical is apt because as I've learned in my first season fishing for them, mullet are the subject of many myths.

My first fish was a solitary capture in a Dorset tidal location a thin lipped that fell to an improvised spoon baited with rag worm. Quite small, less than 2lb, but playing the fish was a revelation, their reputation as powerful fighters is well deserved.

 grey mulletI was left determined to learn more about these impressive, mysterious fish. Previously on Bass expeditions to a sheltered sandy beach David and I had spotted mullet on numerous occasions and just prior to my capture David had taken a mullet on bread. So we resolved to switch our attention to mullet there. Success did not come easily but we did start to catch albeit fitfully. My first capture there was a fine fish that took bread fished just below the surface, course fishing had taught me that fish feeding high in the water may take more positively when presented with a bait in such a manner. This seemed to be true for mullet too but there was a problem, I was getting a lot of bites registering on my float but unless I had sight of a fish taking a bait I couldn't pull the hook into the fish.

The reason for this became apparent after observing mullet taking bread, rather than the deliberate, feeding of course fish like bream tench or carp which suck the bait in while expelling water through their gills. Mullet tend pull or pluck the bait with their mouths while moving relatively quickly, which is why indication on float tackle is dramatic but often fruitless. The drag of the float and line cause the fish to eject the bait or the force of this drag will pull the hook form the mouth of the fish.

So how do you solve the problem of fishing a bait below the surface reducing drag and get good indication of bite that you can hit? Free-lining a bait would allow it to sink quickly out of the sub-surface feeding zone. How about a pole that would allow you to hold it exactly where you want it? No the incongruity of using a roach-pole on a beach was just too much, besides you need to be in a position to give line to mullet making a powerful dive. The answer I decided was a small piece of foam or similar buoyant material, the Sugar-Puff, that could be slid along the line to adjust the depth of the bait in conjunction with a light line and a swivel headed carp float stopped a few inches up. This would allow line to run eliminating drag caused by a moving float and giving indication on the Sugar Puff as it moved across the surface.

That's the theory, in practice, yes drag is reduced dramatically and those swipes at the bait are much easier to hit. The foam Sugar Puff also works well when a bait is fished on the surface and when baits is fished just below the surface the bait is more easily visible so it's easier to see a fish take the bait. One significant flaw did manifest however, initially I was confident that the Puff's resemblance to a piece of bread on the surface wouldn't cause a problem, after all, "Mullet don't take artificials!" Well last September after spending a day fruitlessly trying to track down fish and get them onto bread I finally get lucky and there’s a shoal of Mullet mopping up my bread as it floats over their heads. I cast a discreet distance up tide of the feeding fish, the rig drifts through the shoal on the slow current, a fish rises and takes positively, success! Er no, actually it’s taken the foam and did so constantly ignoring the hooked offering in favour of the ‘artificial’ every time. As I said Mullet are the subject of many myths.

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