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Mullet present a challenge

April 19, 2013
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

While casting a spoon for redfish, I got a terrific hit and instantly my drag was burning.

This was no ordinary red as my light spinning rod bowed deeply as the solid fish made repeated strong runs before coming boatside. I had caught a large black mullet on a spoon, my third in a decade. All three intended to eat the lure and they weren't snagged in any way, which is unusual behavior for a strict vegetarian to be sure, but it does happen.

The mullet is more than a bad hairstyle. It's the most overlooked light tackle gamefish on the flats. Both black and silver mullet inhabit our waters and the rule is ... eat the black (stripped) and use the silver for bait. Plentiful in our area, the mullet can be caught in a variety of ways. Cast netting works the best with large numbers caught each throw. Fly-fishing is the most exciting with a five-pound mullet putting up an amazing fight.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

If your cast net skills aren't up to par and you're terrible at fly casting then it's time to break out the chicken feed, oats, bread, and other concoctions, and start making some recipes.

I like using equal parts chicken feed and oatmeal. Mix together with water to achieve a dough ball consistency. Not too thin or it will fall apart too quickly, and if too heavy will fall right to the bottom. Next prepare the tackle.

Light spinning tackle works well as does a long cane pole using 10-pound test attached to a four-foot leader with a quality swivel. Tie on 4 to 6, No. 4, Aberdeen (gold) hooks about every 10 inches or so making sure they are evenly spaced along the leader. Leave a six-inch tag end to your leader and attach a few split shot to it. Add tiny pieces of white soft plastic cut from a soft plastic lure like a Mr. Twister to each hook. Add a small cork and your rig is ready. The idea being both the oat flakes and plastic bits look edible.

For fly guys try any tiny white fluffy fly on a fine fluorocarbon leader. This is a highly overlooked fly rod target and can be a fun challenge.

Now, head to the mullet grounds anchor up then take your bait mix and toss a few balls onto the water where it will start to fall apart as it sinks spreading white oat flake throughout the water column. Now cast your rig into this bait cloud and hopefully you'll get bit. Watch your bobber carefully till you get the hang of setting the hook at the proper time.

Savvy mullet hunters will bait an area for a few days to help draw the fish in and condition them to eat their concoction or simply bread.

Now that you have a livewell full of these big live baits what should you do with them?

Freeline one around a bridge structure on an outgoing evening tide for a giant snook or tarpon. Rig two of them on 10/0 circle hooks and slow troll on staggered lines. Put the rods in the holders and pull out 15 feet of line the other 30 feet. Set the trolling motor on slow speed and very slowly pull the pair around structure.

Have patience and let the baits work for you down below always leaving the rods in the holders letting the circle hooks do their job.

When the rod doubles over - only then pick up the rod and start reeling.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or, or



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