The Mullet Run
Capt. John Kumiski
The mullet run is a homeless person at an all you can eat buffet table. The
mullet run is a twelve year old with a long line of ice cream sundaes. The
mullet run is an ice cold drink on a scorching hot day. The mullet run is a
beautiful girl in a hot car.
When it's good, anyway. Weather can mess up the fishing, but when it's good
the mullet run is the best fishing of the year, the best we can get along
the central Florida coast. Inshore in the Indian River Lagoon or along the
Atlantic beaches, the mullet run is the year's main event.
In the ocean it's a fly fisher's smorgasbord. Crevalle jacks, ladyfish,
bluefish, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, snook, tarpon, redfish, cobia,
sharks, and more will all show up within a stone's throw of the beach,
looking to cash in on the incredible wealth of protein making its way south.
Fifty fish days are not unusual.
In the lagoon the situation is similar. Predatory fish shadow mullet
schools, exploding through them periodically whenever an easy opportunity
While you can fish the ocean run from the beach, for best success you really
need a boat. At the peak of the run the mullet resemble a black, living
river running south along the beach, about 100 yards wide and as far as you
can see in both directions. The best place to fish is where the mullet are
obviously being eaten by fish. It's not hard to tell where this is, believe
me. The sight and sound of gamefish exploding through bait will lead you to
the right spot.
It's best to carry several rods, rigged with various types of lines-
floating, slow sinking, and fast sinking. Where in the water column the fly
works will sometimes dictate the type of fish you catch. Don't be afraid to
try using a floating deerhair mullet pattern on a sinking line, either.
Effective flies generally imitate mullet, although too close of an imitation
may not be desirable. When the prey is massed, predators home in on the
individuals that look a little different. Chartreuse or red and white mullet
patterns may work better than a more natural imitation. Not surprisingly,
since they demand the attention of the gamefish, poppers can also be very
In the lagoon system the mullet don't usually form the river-like masses
seen along the beaches; rather, they tend to travel in large schools. I hunt
for schools that have gamefish blowing up through them, then pole or
electric motor along with them, repeatedly casting flies into and around the
school. Fly selection is the same as for the beach, and for the same
While the variety of fish in the lagoons is less, the lagoons are usually
fishable even when the ocean is too rough to get out on. And the lagoons are
no slouch, either. Snook, redfish, tarpon, seatrout, crevalle, ladyfish, and
sometimes bluefish and even the occasional snapper will all fall for flies
cast around mullet schools.
In the fall the fish are fattening up, getting ready for winter. When the
mullet are running you'll have the hottest fishing of the year.
Captain John Kuminski is an outdoor writer and fishing guide in Central Florida. He owns and operates Spotted Tail Fishing Charters
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