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 presents itself.

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 effective.

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 reasons.

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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