|Mullet (Mugil chelo (Labrosus)) in the Danish area
The mullet I will be discussing here is commonly known as the grey mullet or the thick-lipped grey mullet.
This fish is normally known as a Mediterranean fish, but has been known to travel to Denmark and the Baltic Sea in spite of the big difference in salt levels. The fish are even known to enter streams and rivers.
What these fish seek first of all seems to be warm water. Some theorize that they come to spawn, and fish caught in nets have been known to be fertile containing eggs or semen. Most people do agree though, that the fish do not spawn here.
The typical thick-lipped mullet slender and almost triangular in cross section.
The mullet is deceptive fish - it is actually more like a coarse fish than any of the well known Danish salt water species. As one of the few marine fish to occur in Denmark it seems to basically be a vegetarian - which makes it a hard quest for the fly fisher.
Mullet grow big and the average size seems to be in the range of 2-4 kilos (4-8 lbs.), but seeing fish that can be estimated to 10 kilos (20 lbs.) is not rare.
The mullet is not only a strong fish, but also sturdily built. It has a small mouth and small teeth, but hard lips - hence the name - and thick hard scales.
An ordinary Danish coastal tackle will be fine for mullet. For the flies and the tippets used an 8 weight might seem overkill, but for the strength of the fish it will be adequate. The mullet can be tamed on a 5 or 6 weight which indeed is more suitable for the small flies.
The reel needs to be strong and contain lots of backing. Mullet are also known as the bonefish of the north, and they will live up to this name. A 3 kilo (6 lbs.) will easily take your whole fly line and more backing than you want to imagine.
Mullet are vegetarians, but add smaller invertebrates to their diet, which makes way for the fly fisher.
A key to success with mullet seems to be small flies. Small will here mean hook size 10 or smaller - which is extremely small for fish that can grow up to 10 kilos (20 lbs.).
The succesful flies are typically quite without character - mostly nymph like dubbed flies in light green or white colors. Many of the flies are weighted to bring them to the bottom, but some Danish fishers prefer to fish for mullet with emerger like floating patterns.
A lot of the well known patterns for stream fishing will probably be well suited for mullet - larvae, nymphs and emergers - even scud patterns.
Mullets are sight fished. When they are feeding they are very active, tailing and sipping the surface and actually making a lot of disturbance. This makes it easy to spot them, especially in calm water. They are mostly seen in broad daylight or in the evening, and are easily scared. Any splash of line, fly not to say fisherman will spook the fish. But they are mostly plentiful, and will often return or stay in the area.
But fish carefully and with stealth as you would a trout in a quiet pond on a chalk stream.
When the fish takes you must be prepared. These are not weak fish! They will run far as soon as they feel the fly, and won't stop before you see your backing. The feeling of that rush is thrilling, but keeping the hard mouthed fish on the small hook is no easy task. These fish have the power to peform several stunning and long runs before they can be landed.
I Denmark we only see mullet in the summer. They will typically appear in June and disappear in august or September. Some fishers report them earlier and later than that, but their presence seem tightly coupled to very warm water and bright sunny days.
So get off your waders and wear your shorts - and go mullet fishing.