How to Catch Mullet

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You can catch mullet using a cast net, a hook & a line (rod and reel), or adding chum bait to your hook and line. However, despite the large number of mullet species in the waters, they are challenging to catch. Mullets do not bite baits in a conventional way; hence you have to perfect some techniques and rigs to catch them.

To help you understand better and perfect the art of mullet fishing, below are three methods of catching them. Read to the end.

how to catch mullet
Striped mullet by helti

Step-by-Step Instructions for Catching Mullet

Mullet fishing is easy and fun if you follow the correct process. Here are some of the safest and most effective methods for use in mullet fishing.

Method 1: Using a Cast Net

Mullets often congregate in large schools close to the water surface. For this reason, many anglers prefer to catch them with cast nets.

Cast nets also come in handy during the autumn migration when large shoals of millet are moving along the shore. They are also ideal if you are targeting finger mullets for bait.

While this method is simpler and more efficient than a hook and a fishing line, keep in mind that mullets have excellent eyesight. They can see a net being cast and dart away quickly.

So, what should you do? Here are some tips to help you become a good mullet net caster:

  • Choose a high-quality net that adheres to the permitted mesh size of your locality. The recommended cast net for finger mullet should have a diameter of 8 to 10 inches and a ½-inch mesh.
  • Wait until the mullet school moves in the opposite direction of the cast net.
  • Throw dissolving chum to gather the mullet in one spot.

If you are a beginner, try practicing how to cast nets at home before heading into the water. You can use a ball or an old tire as a target and try catching it in the net.

When you’re ready to catch mullet, ensure you find a perfect spot. These include off piers, shady canals, streams, near sea walls, and inshore from boats.

After finding the right spot, look for a cruising mullet in the water. Mullets are pretty active in the water, often leaping in and out.

You can also find mullets in places where there are disturbances in the water, sometimes characterized by patches of bubbles. If you see seagulls or shadows pass overhead, mullets are probably beneath the waters and are not feeding intently. 

Once the mullet is within reach, go ahead and cast your net.

Method 2: Using a Hook and Line (Rod and Reel)

The most important thing to remember when doing bait fishing is that mullets have extremely delicate lips. So, when you feel them bite, do not flick too hard. Doing so can inflict wounds on the mullet or lip off its mouth.

Here are key mullet rig tips to adhere to when using a hook and line:

  • Since a mullet has a small mouth, they use considerably tiny hooks. Preferably, go for sizes 2 to 4.
  • Avoid stiff, powerful fishing rods, as they can cause the light lines to break and hooks to pull out.
  • Use a multi-hook mullet rig with about 5 to 7 hooks tied 8 to 10 inches apart. Such a hook increases your chances of catching multiple mullets at once and provides solid hookups.
  • Mullets have sharp eyes, so consider using a virtually invisible underwater fishing line.
  • Wear polarized glasses to help spot mullet easily.
  • Use wading, padding, or electric trolling motors instead of loud gasoline engines to approach your target.
  • Tie a swivel at the rod tip.
  • Add a regular lead or a split shot at the bottom end.

When using a hook and line method, first find a prime habitat for mullet. Spots with lots of green algae are a good habitat for mullet as they love to eat that. Other places you can cast your rod and catch fish include:

  • Tidal rivers
  • Jetty Supports
  • Sandy Bottoms
  • Shady Canals
  • Piers
  • Submerged Logs
  • Inshore Way from Boats
  • Marinas
  • Bays
  • Harbors
  • Coves
  • Dock
  • Creeks
  • Rocky Outcrops

Once you spot a school of mullet, have your treble hook and light rod ready. Ensure that you use long readers.

Then, prepare bait for the mullets. Some of the best baits to use include the following:

  • Rag worms
  • Earthworms
  • Bloodworms
  • Peeled prawn
  • Dough balls or white bread
  • Sandfleas
  • Nematode worms
  • Harbour rag (a great bait for mullet fishing)

Once you feel a bite, reel them in carefully. Never pull a mullet in too quickly. You can even use a landing net to hold your final catch. Be careful when landing them, as they can easily jump off.

Method 3: Using Chum Bait with Your Hook and Line

Using a regular hook to catch mullet can be tricky at times. However, you can ease the process of mullet fishing if you use chum bait.

A chum bait attracts huge numbers of mullet who come to feed. Once you have the chum bait, cast into it, and this will increase your chances of catching mullet.

When choosing the best hook to catch mullet, remember that they have small mouths. As such, small hooks are most appropriate. Moreover, you need to cover the hook’s point with the bait.

You have several options that you can use for mullet chumming, including:

  • Fish pond pellets
  • Dog food
  • Rabbit and cattle pellets
  • Laying mash (chicken feed)
  • Household crackers
  • Artificial baits

To make it more enticing to the mullet, create a paste with oatmeal, then drop it into the water. The chum should be thick enough to sink to the bottom before dissipating. If you make it too thin, it quickly dissipates away and may not achieve its objective.

Laying mash is common in mullet fishing. It sends them into a feeding frenzy and dissolves fast, leaving mullet eager for something more to nibble.

Here are a few simple steps to make a mullet chum:

  • You can opt to cook the oatmeal so that it can have its natural aroma
  • Mix the oatmeal and chicken feed in equal parts
  • Add water to the mixture until you get the consistency of a dough ball
  • Optional: Instead of water, you can use fish attractant oil such as ghost shrimp smell or crab.

Once you have prepared the mullet chum bait, toss it on a spot where you believe there is mullet activity.

When it begins to dissolve, cast into the chum.

You will be more effective if you leave the baited hook and leader line in the chum bucket for a while. The chum sticks to your hook and gives it an additional attraction.

You can also throw in some small chunks of ragworm or mashed-up mackerel bits to the chum recipe for more effective results.

Where to Catch a Mullet

You can find striped mullets anywhere in the world, especially in tropical and marine waters. They love to feed and swim in surprisingly shallow waters as they enjoy the light breeze.

Striped mullet are also the most common fish in the coastal streams and Connecticut, especially during summer.

Thick-lipped mullet is the largest and most common in British shallow waters. They are commonly found in several regions, such as the Mediterranean Sea, Spain, France, and Portugal. They are also found on the Eastern side of the North Sea and on the North African coast.

You can get thin-lipped mullet in the South of the Bay of Biscay or the Mediterranean Sea. You can also find it in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean from Senegal, Cape Verde, and North of the Baltic sea.

However, keep in mind that mullets migrate southwards when the average sea temperatures in the northern waters begin to drop. They remain South until May or early June when they start to return North.

Mullets’ main diet is algae and grass, which flourish in warm waters. This explains their movement to where there are warm waters.

Important Tips When Catching Mullet

  • The tide rises during dawn and daybreak. These two timings are ideal for catching grey mullet.
  • Mullet shoals move into rivers with the flood, then withdraw on the ebb tide.
  • Always crouch, remain silent, and hide to avoid scaring the shoals away since they are shy.
  • Mullet sucks its food. As such, if you sense any bite or your bobbing float indicates one, tighten your line to avoid the bait being sucked.
  • Mullets have soft lips; therefore, avoid tightening your line too much so it doesn’t tear out.
  • Mullets watch a bait before going for it, so you need to watch the drop speed.
  • Mullets are depth specific. Use a light sinker to allow the bait to dip slightly to about 6 inches.

Best Weather Conditions for Mullet Fishing

A light breeze and an overcast sky make ideal conditions if you are targeting mullet. Under such conditions, the mullet feel secure and ready to feed.

Surprisingly, shallow water also provides a conducive environment for other species that love relatively calm weather. However, mullet fish hate acidic and salt water.


Although catching mullet is not easy, it’s a fascinating activity. All you need is to identify the best method for you from the three we’ve discussed earlier.

A cast net is the most common and is considered more effective than hook and line. However, remember that mullets have great eyesight and can sense and dart away quickly.

Diana Nadim
Fishing Expert
Diana began fishing at the age of seven, as it has been a long-time family tradition. From catching small bullheads to catching strippers on the backwaters of Bighorn, she loves to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water. Her dad was an expert angler, and he taught her fishing along with her two siblings. They used to go to the Bighorn River in Montana and Henry’s fork, Idaho. As a pragmatic person, she is obsessed with creating well-researched and practical guides and reviews of the best fishing methods and gear.
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