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Fly trip is hijacked by mullet

November 13, 2015
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

I recently hosted a group of English anglers on their annual Florida trip. These dedicated club members travel the world with their goal being to catch as many species as possible, mostly on a fly rod.

This year's trip was dedicated to redfish and snook on the fly, but the whole trip got side tracked by a single Matlacha bonefish. Sort of.

If obvious schools of reds aren't visible and or feeding and there's no water under the bushes but, there are large schools of mullet doing their thing on the open flats, a lure cast along the edges of the school may produce a huge red, snook, or the biggest spotted sea trout of your life.

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Capt. George Tunison

These predators mix in with the mullet schools that are happily flopping around the shallows feeding on the hiding shrimp and prey fish disturbed by the mullet.

While fishing in four boats the group casted to mullet schools catching reds and trout and the first mullet of the trip. As they say, that was all she wrote.

In England, where carp, northern pike, suckers and salmon are prized sport fish, these London based anglers were in hog heaven.

The next three days were fully dedicated to mullet on the fly with 500 Euros to the top bull mullet and a handsome reward to the captain as well.

Spinning rods were allowed, but the fish had to be hooked on a fly. No bait.

To those that have never caught a bull mullet five pounds or better on a light spinning rod, or better yet a fly rod, by all means try it.

These Matlacha bonefish shaped mullet eat a fly like a bonefish, tail in the shallows like bonefish, and take off on serious powerful runs. No, not 200 yards, but as powerful pound for pound as any redfish I've ever caught.

Every year my redfish spoons get attacked by a crazed plankton eating "only" mullet or two. Hooked in the lips with all three hooks of the treble I'm not sure of their purpose other than to have a meat meal for a change.

Typically, folks fish with a line full of multiple tiny hooks covered in chicken feed and oatmeal dough balls. But no bait allowed in our tourney, so aboard my boat we went with my little mullet fly creation which is basically a very tiny, round trimmed, furry white or off-white fly, on a 4-pound tippet (leader).

For the spinning rod clients I used the old clear plastic casting bubble float, then a four-foot leader attached to the fly. These streamlined clear bubbles can be used as a casting/float to be able to get a fly on the water without the long rod.

Get that fly in the water and let it drift through the school. Be a line watcher and be ready for anything from a greedy pig redfish take or a delicate almost imperceptible flick of the line signaling the "eat"

Once the steel is felt it's off to the races and the beginning of a fine light tackle fight which probably will see you coming back for more. Some fish seem to panic more than others when hooked.

To me, nothing goes absolutely berserk faster and more violently than a freshly hooked tarpon, or for that matter a lowly ladyfish. A big mullet gets instantly unhappy and in full flight panic mode in a split second.

For fly duties I'll choose a 5-6 weight rod. A 5 with a big mullet is a hoot and definitely will get into your backing.

Any light spinning rod will get the job done. As with any species, over tackling kills the fun.

Need free fishing advice, tackle, boating, boat buying (be careful!) or maintenance questions, as well as charter or fly fishing school info just email or call.

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



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