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Keeping It Local – Part one

Well it has been a while since I put up a blog post and apologies for that. A combination of laptop failures and other matters has seen me somewhat neglectful on the blog front. I have however managed to sort a new computer and have plenty of stories to write about, so expect a lot of content over the coming weeks.

My fishing during the latter part of the summer had to take a bit of a back foot due to time constraints which was a shame as I had a couple of targets I wanted to try and reach. However since September I have been able to get some time on the bank again and although my autumn plans do differ somewhat, I have been successful in some of my fishing endeavours.

Due to my limited hours available for fishing, I had to have a think about how I approached things and how best to utilise my short time on the bank. Looking at the fishing I have closer to home was one thing I did and I made a plan to target a couple of species that I know are quite abundant in the area.

The first fish I decided to go after were the mullet which I had seen swimming around the local bay and harbour. With a bit of planning I could head out and be fishing within minutes. The first thing to do was to make sure I was fishing the optimum times which would vastly help my chances of hitting these hard fighting, shy biting torpedoes.

locating mullet

I marked a couple of spots on the map and decided to investigate where these fish were visiting at the different stages of the tide. My first mark was just outside the town and not where they seemed to go at full tide to feed. The area was more of an interception point for travelling fish. In doing this I felt I could have a chance of catching them whilst they were both moving in and out of the river, thus giving me a chance to fish for them when it was not full tide.

I then decided on a spot where some of the shoals actually halted their progress up the river at high tide, an area where they seemed to stop for an hour or so to play and feed.

mullet location

Tackle was simplicity itself and kept to a minimum. The rod was a 14 foot Abu Conolon im8 match rod which I had gotten for tench fishing. The rings have a decent diameter so any floating weed getting caught on the line didn’t cause too much of a problem. The extra length also helped me mend the line when trotting it down the small stream at one mark and help control the float presentation.

The reel was one of my trusty Spro Red Arcs spooled with some prototype 8lb.  A crystal waggler which took 4aaa was enough to get the decent cast needed in one of the spots. A size 10 and 12 Pallatrax ‘hook’ finished the set up and with a loaf of bread in my tackle bag I was sorted.

Anyone who has fished for mullet will know how shy biting and easily spooked they are, and even though some of the shoals are vast, getting them to take your bait is another story altogether. The first couple of trips ended up fairly fruitless and apart from a couple of missed bites and some stunning sunsets, I couldn’t seem to hook into them.

sligo sunset mullet

I am not a seasoned mullet angler by any stretch of the imagination, so I decided to do a bit of research on them and see if I could glean some tips which would help put the odds in my favour. One thing I did was look at the best way of presenting the bread on the hook. Whenever I have fished bread for coarse species, I have always pinched it around the eye of the hook and left the bottom part fluffy with the hook exposed slightly.

From the information I looked at from various places, there seemed to be a lot of conflicting ideas and varieties with how mullet fishermen presented their bait. I decided on the ‘pasty’ approach which basically meant encasing the hook completely. The idea was the mullet did take more confidently when no hook was showing and who I am I to argue with the experts. Moulding the bread around the hook and crimping the sides to make it look like a Cornish pasty gave really good presentation, but also let the hook ease through the bread on the strike.

hooklink mullet1

My normal hook presentation on the left, and the ‘pasty’ on the right

Another thing I wanted to improve on was how I ground baited for them. I had tried various concoctions from the fishing shed which I don’t think helped my fishing, but after some trial and error I came up with a messy solution which to my mind helped  get the fish feeding on the bread more confidently.

The simple mix was a loaf of sliced pan mashed up in a bucket into a glue-like consistency, but with a few bits of larger bread kept to mimic the free offerings. To this I added some tinned tuna which would also give some added feed and attraction. The final part was some mackerel oil I use for my winter piking.  I felt this would send a bit of the scent trail down the tide and hopefully draw the fish onto the feed.

I tried two different approaches with how I applied the ground bait to the spots. The first was to add some gravel to the mix to try and get it down deep in the ‘interception swim’ as just lobbing the feed in saw it disperse relatively quickly and take it out of casting range. This seemed to work well and I could see the fish genuinely interested in the bait on the bottom.

On the second mark I went for the onion bag approach. This saw me mix the ground bait into an old onion sack which I then tied to a bank stick. I then dug the bank stick into the stream bed on the second mark at low water and this meant I had a tight feeding patch exactly where I wanted it once the water rose with the tide. The bag would continuously give off a stream of small particles and slick and the mullet really seemed to home in on it.

My next evening out for them saw me adopt this subtle difference to my fishing and sure enough I managed to land two lovely conditioned fish. The other satisfying part of the trip as that I managed to land a mullet from both my chosen spots, one on the rising tide and another at their high tide feeding ground.

mullet 1

Although I didn’t latch into any monsters, I did manage quite a few over the coming weeks in the 3-4lb bracket and they all fought like tigers.  As I am writing this at the start of October the mullet have in the past few days moved out from their usual feeding grounds and maybe sport will have finished for the year. I think next year I will aim to single out the larger fish as god knows what a 6 or 7lber would go like on light tackle. I also think trying for them on the fly rod would be something interesting and over the winter I will take a look at some of the mullet fly patterns that I am sure are out there.

mullet final

In the coming days I will be posting part two and three of my ‘Keeping it local’ blogs to try and get everything up to date. Many thanks for reading.