Wednesday, 14 August 2013

MULLET MADNESS - 2013



Peaceful dawn on Grimbury Bay

They live in such a beautiful place and fight so hard that it’s difficult to believe a creature can have so much energy and endurance.

fully engaged in battle
No wonder my friends and I have got mullet swimming through our veins and nagging at our brains when we aren’t out there. Those who’ve tried it know they drive you mad.

mind the anchor rope!
Good friend Steve Derby used to come down south several times every year to fish for barbel in the Avon but since I took him out to try mullet fishing he has hardly cast for barbel ever again.

heading out into heaven
Instead he has bought himself a rig, found a mooring and is out in his boat at every opportunity, introducing several friends to the madness of mullet fishing.


happy Steve - he's going mullet fishing
a fresh breeze greets us
My best mate Trevor Harrop of Avon Roach Project fame was taken out there by friends and like Steve, it wasn’t long before he too bought a rig and is out there weekly, well he'd like to be. 

 Trevor soaking up the rays in the Clay Pool, dreaming of big roach
I often join him or borrow his boat to take our friends out, like Norfolk convert Brian Naylor.
Brian with a nice one

top guide Graham with proof he is
I was first introduced to the life changing sport by old hand Graham Peplar of Davis tackle fame. I wanted to film a sequence for our series “Catching the Impossible” so Graham kindly showed me the ropes and introduced me to one or two spots … and at the first we tried I caught a roach almost first cast so I was happy, especially when we each caught a mullet or two as well.

Martin and Bernard with a small one
Then I had to buy a rig as well, big enough for both Bernard Cribbins and Martin Bowler to fish from while I filmed. We had such a good time out there, so full of laughs, especially when Martin was driven mad by mullet escaping from his hook just when he thought he had them beat. [A clip of the cursing can be seen in Prog 9 of the series, the ‘making of’ bit that I tagged onto the TV series for the DVD sales. It can be viewed on a previous mullet post, Angling Adventures 3]. He got one in the end though.

Martin with a splendid fighter
Our most recent convert has been Pete Reading. He was first taken out by Trevor but sadly he blanked … though we don’t feel any sympathy for him any more because when Steve took him out the following week Pete’s first ever mullet weighed 7lbs1oz … so we’re not talking to him any more!

Pete with his 7/1 - blinding skill or beginners luck?
Though mullet occur all round our shores in summer, our adventures all take place in Christchurch Harbour, either in among the boats in the lower end of the River Stour and Avon or out in the wonderful wide open spaces of the mud flats and sand bars that are ever changing with the wind and tides. 

anticipation at dawn
Wherever you cast, it’s a beautiful place to be, the wildlife decorated water sliding past before rushing out into the Solent at Mudeford.

a birders paradise
There are three types of mullet, the small golden grey, one of which I caught when first out with Graham though I haven’t seen one since, the thin-lipped which are the most numerous and tend to weigh about 2-3lbs and the thick-lipped which can weigh up to 12 lbs, though a good one is anything from five pounds or so and a ceiling on rod and line seems to be about 8lbs. Mind you, size doesn’t matter when a three pounder fights so hard you think you have a monster on the end.

nearly six pounds if I remember correctly
Their appeal is widespread, for as mentioned in a previous post, when asked, the legendary Terry Lampard said that if he could only fish for one species for the rest of his life it would be mullet. He caught three eight pounders in his all too short time on our planet.
Terry with one of his biggies, tho' not 8lbs.

The fishing is simple : a strongish float rod, a centre-pin reel, 4-5lb line, an Avon type rod and float, then trotting or stret-pegging bread flake, with bread mash sloshed in to attract a fish that never eats bread. 

Steve bombing it in
It’s like roach fishing for something that resembles a tropical bonefish when hooked, though mullet are almost as fast and have more stamina. They are awesome.

ten minutes already

getting tense now, he's standing up
result - 5/15 of beautiful feisty mullet
What’s more there are hundreds of them in the harbour this summer, the shoals so thick that you could walk across their backs without getting your feet wet. And it’s such a pleasant change to dangle a bait in a place where there are so many fish, even if catching them is impossible!

dozens of mullet in the Clay Pool before sunrise
But that is all part of the appeal. Everything is changing all the time, the flow, the depth, the fish, the wind, the tides … and by the end of the day you sometimes come off the water feeling you have been in a tumbler dryer filled with water … and it seems however hard you try, you can’t understand why they took the bait, or more often, why they didn’t!

a real biggie - 27inches of muscle
About a month ago I was out there three days running, taking advantage of this wonderful summer, and caught seven mullet the first day, four mullet the second and seven mullet the third and each day they were accompanied by a few bass, sea trout, bream and dace, even a dab, all taken on bread.
tasty bass but they all go back

even tastier sea trout - if only it could be poached!


good bream - notice the cormorant slash on it's belly - greedy sods

a dab/ I'm told it's a flounder - on bread - ridiculous  
I thought I had it cracked but the last two times I’ve been out I failed to catch a single mullet … but that’s why we love it so much, especially when the wildlife is so rich, my blanks more than compensated for by the appearance of two very special birds, bearded tits. I never knew they ever visited Christchurch Harbour.
what an amazing picture of a bearded tit © Edwin Kats
even the small ones battle like monsters
 
not ready yet
not yet either


Mullet fishing has that essential ingredient that all good fishing should have and that’s mystery. Fishing for them is a journey into the unknown, one that drives you out there time after time to try to find all the pieces of the puzzle to complete the picture … but fortunately, most of the pieces are missing.

relief that the war has been won

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