Mullet Fishing all year – a challenge!

Many thanks to Combe Martin SAC member Daniel Welch who sent me this excellent article about his challenge to land a mullet in every month of the year.

5lb 2oz mullet October 2016

In October last year I had a great session on the mullet some of the best mullet fishing I have ever had for quantity and quality including one over the magic 5lb mark. Shortly after this I set myself a challenge to catch a reasonable sized mullet from the same location every month of the year. A challenge that I have now completed it in style. It started with a 5lb fish in October and ended with one just over the 5lb mark on the 16th of September.


5lb 1oz September 16th

Seeing the way a location changes through out the year has been enlightening and very enjoyable. From -6 crisp frosty mornings with not a person insight to +25 degrees in dazzling sunshine surrounded by holiday makers and dogs. Water ranging from gin clear and glassy calm to what could only be described as a torrent of frothy coffee coloured by the silt of the seven estuary and the tannins off the moor.

Some months there was no weed and bare rocks, other times the water was full of leaves and dislodged weed and kelp torn up by winter storms but by far he worst time of year was early summer when a thick carpet of dense vibrant green weed covered everything in the water including rigs, hooks and the mainline which made the fishing almost impossible.


Mullet have got to be the most frustrating species to target in the sea and there is no surprised that some people refer to them as being the grey ghost’s. I cannot recall the amount of people that have stood next to me searching for a sight of what I’m fishing for only to be shocked and surprised when you hand them some Polaroid glasses and they see a shoal of good size mullet just under the surface. They watch mesmerised as the fish just appear from the shadows and disappear just as quickly.

I have found it fascinating to watch the fish, some days the fish swim past the bait without showing the slightest interest, and other times they swim straight up to the bait swallow it and start ripping line off the reel. The most exiting and frustrating times are when fish and quite often the big ones suck in the bait and spit it straight back out without even registering on the rod tip. Its even worse when you have big fish feeding and just before they circle back around to the bait a smaller faster fish beats it to the bait gets hooked and spooks the shoal. It’s always great to hook one but you can’t help being disappointed when you were so close to hooking that big one it’s even worse when you land the small one and it weighs over three pounds!


Over the 12months I have caught two fish over the magic 5lb mark and lot of 3lb and 4lb fish.
I have also seen some truly monstrous mullet that look like tanks. I actually thought I managed to hook one of these monsters last year. The water was like chocolate and there was quite a bit of surf running so it was impossible to see any fish and difficult to see bites but the drag suddenly started to sing and I knew I had hooked into a big fish as it charged back out to sea. After a long fight it finally surfaced and disappointment set in as it turned out to be a bass. I landed it a little bit later and it weighed 7lb 13oz. A good fish and quite an achievement on bread flake 6lb line and a Size 8 hook but it wasn’t the tank of a mullet I thought it was when I hooked it! Shortly after weighing it, it was returned unharmed.

The fishing has been pretty consistent right the way through the year but the hardest time of year was April and the best fishing was September right through to the end of December.

I have seen some amazing sunrises and sunsets ones that turned the cliffs bright orange as if they are on fire. I have also seen some rarer British wildlife some of the most memorable have been seals, otters, and kingfishers. I quite often found myself observing these amazing sites whilst surrounded by large numbers of people completely oblivious to what is right under their noses because they have been too busy consuming large amounts of ice cream, chips and fudge. I enjoyed every minute and have been fortunate enough to share some of these with my family. I just wish I took more photos throughout the year. One great photo was when I captured the take on my left hand rod of the 5lb plus mullet i caught in October last year.

Grey Mullet on the feed

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September is one of the best months of the year to target hard fighting grey mullet. We enjoyed an evening session on the coast this evening with John Avery landing six mullet to 3lb 3oz and James Thomas a good fish of 3lb 13oz.

Combe Martin SAC Summer Rover

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Thirteen club members fished all along the North Devon and Somerset Coast Line in this Summer Rover and it was thin lipped mullet that dominated the prize table at the Rising Sun Lynmouth. James Hunter took the top two places in the event with thin Lipped grey mullet of 4lb 1oz and 3lb 12oz. In third place was John Shapland with a thin-lipped mullet of 3lb 11/2oz.

Daniel Welch tempted a thick lipped grey mullet of 3lb 7oz and a colourful wrasse.

Kevin Legge landed a brace of small eyed ray the best scaling 8lb 2oz and Rob Scoines a brace of small eyed each weighing 7lb 11oz.

The roving competition as with all Combe Martin SAC competitions was a catch and release event. Far better than the old days when the carcasses of fish were brought back to the scales. Fortunately we are still managing to meet up for a chat and pint afterwards. Many thanks to the Rising Sun for a delicious spread of sandwiches and hot chips. Much appreciated after a hard days fishing.

Spring mullet on the coast

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Several thick lipped grey mullet have been caught along the coast and have also been seen in local estuary’s. Combe Martin SAC member Graham Snow landed a fine specimen of 4lb 13.5 oz and I landed a hard fighting of fish of 3lb 4oz.

Grey mullet were once considered to be fish of the summer months but recent seasons have seen local anglers land mullet throughout the year.

Winter Mullet

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Grey mullet were once thought of as a fish of the warmer months though recent seasons have seen mullet caught from some venues all year round. Most of these mullet are thick lipped grey mullet that frequent some harbours for twelve months of the year. Several local anglers myself included have landed the species in every month of the year a feat that would have seemed improbable twenty years ago. The above fish was tempted by George Stavrakopoulos using a paternoster rig and small hooks. In addition to the mullet George tempted several other species including small pollock and gobies. I believe the above mullet is thin lipped mullet that can often be tempted during the summer months using baited spinners. Their arrival along the North Devon Coast in late winter is probably linked to spawning which could explain their reluctance to feed extensively?

I have just completed reading a book on mullet fishing entitled ‘Fishing for Ghosts’ – Successful Mullet Angling ‘ By Mike Ladle and David Ridgen. The book gives a fascinating insight into mullet fishing’ one fact is obvious in that for thick lipped mullet bread is the number one bait. I cannot help but feel that there is still much to learn about catching the wily grey mullet which is why they are a worthy target for any serious angler.

Thick Lipped Grey Mullet caught from a North Devon harbour during mid February

Winter Mullet

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There was a time when the mullet fishing season started in the late spring and finished in the late autumn. Times have changed with these fish now caught all through the year. Time and experimentation could well reveal far more marks to catch these hard fighting silver ghosts during the colder months?

Daniel Welch set out after winter mullet and landed a near specimen of 3lb 14oz.

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COMBE MARTIN SAC _ CHRISTMAS COMPETITION

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Eighteen club members fished in Combe Martin SAC’s Christmas Rover and it was a grey mullet caught by Daniel Welch that took top spot.

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A few years ago few would have considered fishing for grey mullet at the end of December but times are changing and five members targetted the species. Dan’s mullet of 3lb 7oz was the only one landed though despite several bites.

dscn5001The local rock marks produced a variety of species including whiting, pollock, dogfish, huss and conger. Larger species were hard to find though and it was Rob Scoines who took runner up spot with a rockling of 1lb 6oz. In third was Dan Spearman with a bull huss of 7lb 10oz and in forth Rob Scoines with a bass of 3lb 15oz.15778406_1310685032336877_2067850220_obanner

COMBE MARTIN SAC LYN FISH 2016

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The annual Lyn Fish open competition attracted twenty local anglers competing for cash prizes and an impressive prize table from sponsors Sakuma Tackle and Braunton Baits. The event is a catch and release specimen match with fishing from boat and shore.

Anglers fished a wide variety of marks between the boundaries Minehead Harbour wall and Clovelly Harbour. Most of the winning fish coming from marks in the Lynmouth to Ilfracombe area.

Day one was blighted by a strong westerly wind that made boat fishing impossible and shore fishing a bit of a trial. Grey mullet were a popular target species with several competitors and it was these hard fighting fish that were being targeted by Daniel Welch on Saturday night when he hooked a hard fighting fish that took off on several long runs before eventually being netted. The fish turned out to be fine conditioned bass of 7lb 13oz tempted on bread-flake and size 8 hook!

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On the Saturday evening tide James Fradgely- Gubb and Rob Scoines fished a rock mark buffeted by the strong wind. A couple of good fish were lost but James eventually managed to land a specimen bull huss of 10lb 1oz.

In the early hours of Sunday morning Kevin Legge and Dave Brooke fished a rough ground mark where Kevin landed a couple of huss the best scaling 9lb 6oz. Kevin also landed a blonde ray of around 7lb that was a surprise on the rough ground they were fishing.

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John Avery and myself targeted grey mullet and at 6.00am on the Sunday morning I cast out a two hook rig baited with bread flake. Seconds later I noticed the rod tip rattle and grabbed the rod as the butt lifted from the ground. A powerful fish surged away and battle commenced. A few minutes later John expertly wielded the net and a very pleasing mullet was secured. At 5lb 2oz it was a great start to the day! img_3583

After a couple of quiet hours fishing we moved to another mark and found the mullet in a feeding frenzy landing half a dozen with John and Callum Gove landing the majority with Johns best scaling 2lb 9oz.

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Louis Rooke and John Shapland paid a visit to the estuary in search of grey mullet and flounder. Louis managed the only weigh-able fish of note a plump flounder of 1lb 6oz.

The calm weather on Sunday enabled the boats to get afloat and Rob Scoines boated the best boat caught specimen of the day a small eyed ray of 9lb 13oz. Ross Stanway boated the biggest fish of the weekend; a tope of 30lb.

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The weigh in and prize giving was held at the Rising Sun Lynmouth where platefuls of scrumptious sandwiches and hot chips were provided for the hungry anglers who had fished hard over the two days. Raffle tickets were sold for an array of impressive prizes donated by local businesses with the proceeds going to West Exmoor Federation.

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The raffle and fishing competition helped to raise £400 for the West Exmoor Federation of schools.

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Full Results:-

1st – Wayne Thomas – Grey Mullet – Shore – 5lb 2oz – 128%

2nd – James Gugg-Fradgely – bull huss – Shore – 10lb 1oz – 101%

3rd – Rob Scoines – Boat – small eyed ray – 9lb 13oz – 98%

4th– Daniel Welch – Shore – bass – 7lb 13oz – 97%

5th – Kevin Legge –Shore – bull huss – 9lb 6oz– 93%

6th – Ross Stanway – Boat- tope – 30lb -75%

7th – Louise Rooke –Shore – Flounder – 1lb 6oz – 68%

8th – John Avery – Shore – Grey Mullet – 2lb 9oz – 64%

Combe Martin SAC give special thanks to all who participated and supported the event, to Sakuma and Braunton Baits for donating some excellent prizes. Thanks also to Tony Vickery and all at the Rising Sun for providing delicious food and making all welcome.

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