Winter Mullet

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There was a time just a couple of decades ago when winter mullet were not considered a worthwhile winter target unless you fished the far West of Cornwall or the Channel Islands. Things have changed though and recent seasons have seen North Devon anglers landing mullet throughout the winter months. Just to clarify I am talking about thick lipped grey mullet and not thin lipped mullet  that sometimes shoal up in large numbers in certain locations.

I set out this afternoon in search of an elusive thick lip but my optimism was lower than normal after receiving reports that the mullet were very scarce. On setting up I peered into the clear water hoping to glimpse a mullet but none showed. As the tide pushed in the rod tip trembled a couple of times; if there had been the slightest breeze I would not have seen the indications but on bringing in the baits the fluffy ends of the bread were gone a sure sign that mullet were present?

I followed the tide in and my confidence was boosted when I glimpsed a silver flank turning. Mullet were present! The light faded and I peered into the clear water beneath the street lights a couple of shadows drifted across the rocks. I Lowered a baited rig with two flakes of soft white. A good sized mullet swam up to the bait and proceeded to play with bait. I watched fascinated as the mullet was joined by another fish each nudging the bait that seemed to occasionally disappear from view. Striking too early can often spook the fish better to wait for a positive movement of the tip. After 15 minutes of so I had probably cast to the mullet ten times with the fish removing the fluffy tail of the bait each time leaving a small piece on the hook each time. The mullet were feeding right beneath my position and I could watch them as they moved the bait causing the tip to tremble occasionally pulling round an inch or more causing me to strike in vain. Eventually I hooked the mullet and it splashed on the surface for a second or two before coming off the hook.

It was now almost high water and I thought my chance had gone. I moved down a few yards and flicked my baits out before walking back to the shallows to see how many mullet were present in the beam of my head torch. None could be seen and I thought they had moved out with the ebbing tide. I wonder back to my rod and started to dismantle my net. The tip trembled slightly! I put he net back together and watched the tip. As I put the net on the wall the tip surged over and a fish was on. Ten minutes later I was weighing a pleasing winter mullet of 4lb 2oz.

Fellow CMSAC Members John Avery and John Shapland have been travelling to marks on the Cornish coast to tempt some fine winter mullet John Avery landing a fine specimen of 4lb 14oz and John Shapland a new personal best of 5lb 1oz.

John Avery 4lb 14oz – Thick lipped grey mullet
John Shapland – Thick lipped grey mullet 5lb 1oz




Beating the elements and cheating the chill

(Above) Chill-Cheater Storm Jacket kept the chill out on this bitterly cold day off Penarth.

When I started fishing forty odd years ago fishing garments tended to consist of old clothes and at best outfits bought from the nearest Army Surplus store. Times have fortunately changed and angling clothing has come on a long way with specialist weather resistant clothing available that is both functional and smart.

A couple of years ago my good friend Kevin Legge introduced me to a local North Devon company based in Braunton that provides bespoke clothing for use in demanding environments. Reed Chillcheater Ltd specialise in garments for use in water sports such as kayaking. Kevin’s logic was that this quality equipment would be ideally suited to sea anglers who spend many hours exposed to hostile weather and conditions.

I recently enjoyed a visit to the shop floor where I met up with owner Chris Reed and Dion Hunt who gave me a fascinating tour of the premises and explained the intricacies and complexity’s of the manufacturing process and the properties of the materials used. Chris established the company in 1999 when they got off to a flying start winning the British Plastics Award for Aquatherm Fabric.

(Above) Owner Chris Reed and Dion Hunt


Aquatherm is a modern intelligent Fabric designed using basic practical science as Chris explained to me in layman’s terms. Wind and water is the enemy and are combated effectively using layering with Chillcheater’s Aquatherm providing the outer layer. The smooth outer surface is water resistant and drys quickly reducing wind chill that is caused by evaporation.

The most popular products for anglers have been the Aquatherm outdoor jackets with transpire fleece inner with matching storm trousers. I have had one of these jackets for close to two years and can vouch for its warmth and weather resistance both at home and abroad in Norway.

(Above)Storm Jacket


(Above)Rugged non-corrosive Zip
(Above) Storm Cuffs

Extensive testing and consultation with anglers including North Devon’s local enthusiast Kevin Legge has resulted in a product that ticks many boxes. The Storm Jacket has several useful features including a fleece lined kangaroo pouch pocket to warm the hands, an Aquatherm outer pocket with a drain hole along with Velcro fastening, adjustable wrist straps to prevent water ingress and ¾” length zip that is made from hardwearing saltwater proof plastic. The storm peak is reinforced with wire; reflective strips give high visibility for added safety. All seams are fully heat taped to ensure no leakage.

The storm trousers are made of the same Aquatherm material with adjustable Velcro boot fasteners, shin guard overlay protection for knees, twin cargo pockets with drain holes, double Aquatherm bum patch, inner foam pouch phone pocket, elasticated back fix braces with simple double loop fasteners and elasticated top for close fitting.

Ideally beneath this robust outer layer can be worn transpire fleece inners. These are made using single filament yarns made from polyester and spandex. This ensures a tangled array of soft filaments that cling to the body matching the body’s contours trapping a warm layer to the skin. These fleeces can be purchased in either single layer suitable for the British Climate or in double layer for extreme climates like Norway and Iceland in winter!

Other items in the transpire fleece range include socks, long trousers, short trousers, long sleeve tops, zipped or unzipped tops, beanies and balaclavas.

(Above)Balaclava and beanie


Dion also showed me a Pertex jacket that can be worn over the inner layers or as an outer garment to repel wind and light rain. This amazingly lightweight material folds up into a bag no bigger than an apple!

Testament to the quality of the clothing produced at Chillcheater is the fact that renowned adventurer and long distance Kayaker Justine Curgenven has chosen the products for several of her expeditions in some very harsh climates.

I found the tour of Reeds fascinating and was very impressed with the attention to detail and the state of the art production techniques ensuring a top quality product. The venture into clothing aimed at anglers is a relatively new venture for the company that has for years focused primarily on providing robust, light weight and warm clothing for extreme water sports enthusiasts.

(Above)Leonie Isaac-Pike – Works on a Reed’s garment

(Above) The factory floor


I discussed breathability and overheating with Chris who gave some sound advice regarding maintaining comfort whilst out fishing. Angling tends to be a rather sedentary pastime. I explained that one issue with fishing is that reaching the venue can require a considerable degree of excursion that can result in perspiration. This can then lead to the angler feeling cold as the session unfolds. Chris suggested that in many cases venting whilst in transit could significantly reduce this. So remove your hat and undo the zip. During long expeditions explorers cover ground slowly to reduce overheating. Plodding slowly to your chosen mark and taking five minutes longer to get there can significantly reduce perspiration and subsequent chilling. When you arrive at the mark you can of course zip up and put on the hat to keep the warmth in!

Chillcheater gear isn’t cheap but it is certainly quality gear that will outlast the majority of weather gear sold by other companies for anglers. For more information on Chillcheater visit their website or give them a ring on 01271 815828.



Spurdog Reward

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16603044_289044128179203_8870885651022767830_nTarrant Wotton set out on a bitterly cold evening and was rewarded with a fine specimen spurdog scaling 10lb 8oz. With the winds expected to via away from the North East this coming week there is every chance of enjoying some late winter sport before thoughts turn to spring.

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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.




Another year has almost ended as we approach the Winter solstice on December 21st and whilst we have only just entered winter this date signals the journey towards the spring and rebirth. As an angler my thoughts are tempered far more by the changing environment than the man made calendar.

Much of my angling effort at this time of year is beside the sea casting baits into the darkness from the local rock marks. The mystery of the sea entrances and entices vigils beside the water in hope of spurdog, bull huss, ray, conger and perhaps cod. The changing climate is influencing what we catch and this provides an exciting ever evolving challenge.

As I grow older I know that my days clambering around the rocks are numbered. I have had a few near misses and grow increasingly aware of the risks. But I just love being beside the water the anticipation and the feeling of being out there in the elements.

Whilst the salmon and sea trout fishing is months away I still take an interest in their life’s journey and try to glimpse the fish spawning on the redds high on the moors. I peered over a bridge on Exmoor a few days ago, a salmons wasted carcass lay upon the gravels. I wondered if it had succeeded on its journey and contributed to the next generation?


How has the weather impacted upon this years spawning a big spate in mid November had helped the fish to forge to their spawning grounds but since then the rivers have shrunk back after a period of little rain. What happens this year will affect the fishing season around 2021.

Stillwater trout provide a temporary connection with fish of an adipose nature. Hard fighting rainbow trout in cold clear waters with the thrill of the take and a great excuse to be out enjoying the great winter outdoors.


I read of carp and plan to cast more for these fish next year if I can find the time. There are so many waters that hold carp these days but which water suits my style of fishing. Commercial fisheries offer the chance of a personal best and I am tempted to chase a thirty pounder. Yet a neglected overgrown pond that is seldom fished appeals more to my carp fishing soul.

If I find time I will target perch and pike over the coming months. Pike is surely the essence of winter coarse fishing. A red tipped float optimistically poised upon dark waters that reflect the skeletal trees and dead reeds of winter.


A foray after grayling in cold clear waters trotting a float or casting an upstream nymph. Perhaps a session after silver flanked roach with crimson fins. As I list the joys of winter fishing I no longer struggle with the melancholic atmosphere of the season for I know that I cannot hope to fit in all that I wish to do before the spring arrives full of promise. All too soon we will meet in a riverside Inn and discuss past seasons and enthusiastically embrace the start of new salmon season. Trout fishing will commence on rivers and reservoirs. In the words of Jethro Tull; “Life’s a long song,
But the tune ends too soon for us all”.


Rising Sun