Monthly Archives: October 2016

October bass and mullet

Mike Ladle’s contribution to today’s blog shows how a change of tactic can make all the difference when the chips are down. Enjoy!

How much longer it will be worth going bass and mullet fishing this season is yet to be seen.  Even though, of course, you CAN continue right through the winter and in years gone by I have done just that. However, in the colder months everything tends to slow down and I prefer to go to the river or to my local ponds where results are more predictable.  Anyway, the number of tides when the fish will come close in to feed on maggots is now reducing so I take every chance that I get.

The other day I met my pals Bill and Nigel in the cliff top car park, to fish the first spring tide of the series which was big enough to reach the maggoty weed.  By the time we arrived at our chosen spot, about an hour before high water, the fish were already showing on the surface.  I stopped at the first mound of weed and my pals walked on another hundred metres or so to the next spot.  Nigel had brought his fly rod in hopes of mullet while Bill and I both chose to spin.  I started off with a big Slandra and Bill was using a weedless Evo Stix lure modelled on his home-made Slug-gills.  Neither of our lures seemed to interest the fish, even though we could see that there were bass among the surface skimming mullet.  Every so often small shoals of fry would spray out of the water, presumably disturbed by the bass or mullet beneath them.

None of us were catching anything so I stopped fishing and rooted about in my lure box.  At the back end of the season, mullet will sometimes feed, almost as aggressively as bass, on small fry, so I put on a size 2, silver Mepps to try and imitate the little baitfish.  It worked.  With the braided line I could cast beyond the shoals of surface feeding fish and by keeping the rod up and winding steadily the tiny spinner flickered along just under the surface.  After just a few casts there was a fierce pull and I was in.  Of course I expected a bass and it was a couple of minutes before I saw that it I was playing a good mullet.  For five minutes the fish ran and kited about repeatedly before I could beach it on a breaking wave.  All three points of the treble hook were inside the mouth of the mullet so I carefully eased them out before taking its picture. The fish was 62 centimetres long which on my length/weight graph is about six-and-a-quarter pounds although it probably weighed a bit more as they are in mint condition at this time of the year.

Well over 6lb of fighting fit mullet

Well over 6lb of fighting fit mullet

Encouraged, I returned the mullet and started fishing again.  The next bite proved to be a titchy little bass which I quickly returned.  For a few minutes I had no more bites so I walked along to see how my pals were doing.  At this point neither of them had caught anything but as I watched Nigel’s fly rod arched over and he hooked a cracking mullet.

Nigel play's a spirited fish on the fly rod

Nigel play’s a spirited fish on the fly rod

After he’d beached his fish I decided to pack in and leave them to it. There were still some fish moving as I walked back so I HAD to have another cast with my Mepps.  It wasn’t long before I had a bite and landed a bass of about two-and-a-half pounds but that was my last fish of the session.

Note the tiny Mepps lure

Note the tiny Mepps lure

Bill emailed later to say that although he’d blanked Nigel had caught two smallish bass.

The following day I couldn’t go but, understandably,  Bill and Nigel went again.  The conditions were excellent with lots of surface feeding fish.  Unlike the previous night the bass were keen to feed and Bill’s plastic eel caught him nine fish including a few three pound plus ones.  Nigel, again fishing a dry fly or a tiny Delta on his fly rod also had nine bass, including one of four-and-a-half pounds and once more he landed a chunky mullet.  All in all it was a wonderful couple of hours’ fishing.  Pity I couldn’t join them because the following day it blew strongly from the south and the weed piles were all washed away.

Mastering the mullet

Many anglers struggle when it comes to mullet fishing. It’s so far removed from general shore fishing that unless you come from a coarse fishing background, you may struggle to get your head around the basics. Today light line enthusiast Zak Lia gives us his view on a simple approach

After a slow morning targeting flounder, we decided to switch tactics and rig up our mullet rods. Before even casting out, we chummed up the swim (ground-bait) with finely blended bread in an onion sack which immediately aroused attention from the smaller mullet.
To my mainline I attached one float stop about 17 inches from the bottom, I then threaded on a 3aaa insert waggler float followed by 2 size 8 trebles in a pennel fashion. To cock the float, I attached 3 aaa split shot. The positioning of these shot is vital as the weight they provide offers some resistance that enables a positive hook up. Braces bread has always been a favourite for me when mulleting as it has a very doughy texture which allows it to remain on the hook a lot longer. After grabbing a piece of bread about the size of a 50p I squeeze the top of the bread onto the mainline and leave a bit of flake at the bottom with the hooks protruding. This seems very important as the mullet appear to only ever bite when the flake is still there. As soon as it washes off or is removed by a fish, the bites dry up.

Back to the session and after a short wait, the first bite came, the float rose upwards and then dived down allowing me to gain pressure on the fish and get a good hook hold. The fight was immense and the fish was simply not tiring as it continued to dive and strip line. The LRF rod at this point was doubled over but its backbone allowed me to gain line on the fish.  After an intense fight my friend netted the fish and got it onto the grass.

A handsome mullet for Zak

A handsome mullet for Zak


After removing the hooks, we quickly got it back into the water. It’s important not to just throw mullet back in but if you can it’s best to cradle them facing into the flow to allow oxygen to pass back through their gills.
Mullet fishing is great fun (once you hook one) and it is thrilling to hook them on light tackle. I usually use a 2-12g sonic rock champ LRF rod paired with a 1000 size SPR0 micro addiction reel. I find 10lb braid to work very well with a short fluorocarbon leader, however 15lb mono or fluorocarbon is perfect for targeting these weary fish.

Rod, reel and fish!

Rod, reel and fish!

Always bring a landing net with you; an extendable handle net is perfect when fishing alone and easily allows you to quickly and safely land the fish. A drop net is practical when fishing off a high harbour wall.
There are also a wide variety of ways that you can make up a chum which really does increase your chances. When fishing into a non-tidal dock or basin I use bread either stale or fresh and blend it into a fine powder. This is easily moulded and compressed into a ball and thrown directly next to your float. When fishing a tidal mark, I usually use a much thicker mixture. I put a loaf of bread into a bucket add water and mix. I then throw this paste onto the rocks and in the sea weed so that when the tide floods, the mullet are draw in to feed off the rocks close in.

Ben goes fishing again!

Bass fishing guru, Mike Ladle, is back guesting on the VMO blog- we hope you enjoy this inspiring tale of a late summer’s evening when everything goes to plan!

My grandson Ben (now 19 years old and 6’2″ in height) used to go fishing with me quite often when he was younger.  He’s caught quite a few fish from pike to pollack and rudd to wrasse so he knows how to cast and how to play fish. 

A young Ben, spinning rod in hand

A young Ben, spinning rod in hand

Ben's biggest fish to date. What a pike!

Ben’s biggest fish to date. What a pike!

As he grew up the opportunities for fishing with me diminished, as studies, girlfriends etc. took over, but clearly the ‘bug’ is still with him because recently he’s been asking me when we could go fishing.  The other day, we were over at Ben’s so  I asked him if he fancied an evening at the beach and he jumped at the chance.  We drove back to our place, had a quick bite to eat, grabbed a couple of my rods and reels, took a pair of mackerel fillets out of the freezer and set off.

We were restricted to somewhere we could fish in wellies.  Fortunately the sea had fallen calm and there was little wind so I decided it would be worth trying freelined baits.  Time was pressing so long walks were out of the question and we opted to try close to where we parked the car.  He’d never used the free-lining tactics before so I showed him how to bait up the 6/0 circle hook with a flank fillet of mackerel and as we stood two rod lengths apart the baits were flicked two or three meters out to sea.

Hair rigged mackerel flank ready to go

Hair rigged mackerel flank ready to go

Rods were held, bale arms were kept open and the line was gripped gently between the fingers and thumbs of our free hands.  As I commented “It’s a bit like carp fishing!”

As we began it was still bright, the sun was in the sky and there were quite a few holidaymakers on the beach, taking pictures, looking for fossils, skimming stones and generally acting in a manner calculated to scare fish.  There was still half-an-hour before sunset and I thought it was unlikely that we’d get a bite before the light began to fade.  We stood chatting about fishing related topics and I said to Ben that, if he had a bite, he should simply let the fish run freely with the bait for a while before dropping the rod tip to give a bit of slack, gently closing the bale arm and then NOT striking (a hard lesson to learn).

The sun sank slowly towards the western cliffs and as the air chilled the stone throwers, barbecuers and fossil hunters gradually wandered away. Now we were alone on the shore with only the gentle slopping of the water to break the silence.  Ben said – “I’ve got a bite!”,  I moved towards him and I could see the line running out through his fingers at high speed.  He followed my instructions to the letter, the braid tightened and then fell slack as the fish dropped the bait. Bugger!  He reeled in to find the fillet still in mint condition so I told him to lob it out as before.  Again we waited.  Another five or ten minutes passed and of course we were all keyed up in anticipation of another bite then Ben’s line twitched and began to run out again.  This time it was going even faster and he waited a little longer before closing the bale.  The rod bowed round to his left and the fish was on.  At first it didn’t pull very hard and he began to lift the rod and turn the handle of the reel but suddenly it was wrenched down as the bass realised it was hooked.  There was a huge boil in the water right in the margin.  Clearly the fish had run parallel to the shore and stayed really close in, as they sometimes do.
Ben walked towards the thrashing fish, reeling to keep a tight line as he went and I watched as, after a bit of a tussle, he slid a fine bass ashore and picked it up.


A fine bass to end the evening

The fish was round about the six-pound mark and since my fellow angler hadn’t been fishing for years I said he could keep it to eat.  We fished on for a few more minutes but it was now becoming distinctly chilly so we trudged back to the car and drove home well pleased with our hour’s fishing.  Must go with him again before long.