Mullet

  

Mullet caught from Stenhouse Bay Jetty during their Autumn run.

Yellow-eye Mullet are regularly caught along almost the entire length of South Australia's coastline.  In Autumn every year, the fish school in numbers along the southern beaches of Yorke Peninsula and this is, for me, the best time and place to target them.

As teenagers, we used to catch quite a few Mullet in the upper reaches of the Port River in the area around the sugar wharves (now demolished).  The creeks around Garden and Torrens Islands were also good.  They were well above legal size (21 cm), but it wasn't until I caught a few of the big Autumn run fish at Butler's Property on Yorke Peninsula that I really appreciated the eating qualities of Mullet.

During Autumn, places to visit for Mullet fishing are Butlers Beach, Salmon Beach, Browns Beach, Chinamans Beach, Jolly's Beach and any of the beaches along the road from Marion Bay to Corny Point.  In fact, almost any beach is worth a try, as long it has a bit of wave action.  

South of Adelaide, Autumn is again the best time.  Waitpinga and Parsons Beaches are reliable spots, along with Sellicks and Aldinga.

Even Adelaide's metropolitan beaches will produce fish if you concentrate on the gutters on high tides.  A walk along these beaches will reveal one or two deeper channels that run parallel to the shore.  Often, they will only hold water at high tide.  When this happens, the Mullet enter to feed before moving back out with the tide. 

In all areas, look for a gutter or hole near the shore.  Mullet will feed in very shallow water, and they are somtimes caught on flat, featureless sand flats, but better fishing is often had by concentrating on the holes and gutters.

Basic fishing gear is all that's needed.  If fishing off a beach, a very light surf fishing rod and reel, with light line (about 8 pound) and size 8 - 10 hooks.  Mullet have small mouths, so anything larger seems to affect the amount of fish hooked.  The two hooks are rigged above a sinker.  Even in the surf, a one ounce or 28 gram sinker will be the maximum.  Half and ounce usually works well.  The waves will move the rig around a bit, but the bites are unmistakable.  They are light, rapid taps on the line.

Berley is essential and I find the easiest way is to use a berley spring.  Squeeze it full of berley every two or three casts and this seems to keep the fish around long enough to catch a few.  Legal minimum length is 21 cm and the bag limit is 60 per person per day (180 boat limit with three or more people aboard).

Mullet will take a variety of baits but the best is mince meat stiffened with a bit of curry powder and breadcrumbs.  I think that most people who target specifically Mullet use or have used this bait.  It works very well and Tommies and small Salmon are also partial to it.  Cockles (Pipis), tube worms and seaweed worms are also good baits, the seaweed worms are right up there with the mince as the best, with added bonus of attracting Yellowfin Whiting.  

The technique is simple.  With your loaded berley spring and baited hooks, cast a few metres out.  Not too far, as Mullet seem to feed in backwash of the shore dump.  You will feel the rip pulling the line tight and then it will stop.  This is when the bites are felt.  They are relatively easy to hook when feeding well and it won't take long to catch what you need.  They should be bled upon capture.

Cooked the same day, without freezing, Mullet are very nice to eat.  The barbeque is the best way enjoy them.

They are great fun to catch, but the atmosphere of the surroundings is generally enough without catching anything.  Kids love going after Mullet, and they fight surprisingly well for a small fish.