Make mine a mullet
  |  First Published: June 2014

Social media has certainly changed the way we hear and see what other anglers have caught; it seems to be a big bragging board of who has the biggest fish nowadays. However, we often forget about the simple bread and butter species our waters have to offer.

Not everyone owns a boat or can afford to head out on a fishing charter regularly, so on any given Saturday or Sunday, people around the state hit the shoreline in search of a fish. There is no better feeling than seeing the tip of your rod shake and shudder as a fish chews on the bait. And no matter what the species, catching a fish is just a whole lot of fun!

One species that is an enjoyable target is the yellow eye mullet. They inhabit bays, inlets and estuaries right around the state and are quite a simple species to catch, providing you’re using the right tackle.

Although the majority of mullet that are caught around the state average around 25cm, some fish can exceed that and be up to 50cm. On light tackle, mullet are a fun fish to catch; smaller models may not pull drag but larger ones can rival the fight of whiting. On the plate they are quite delicious and, for the kids, they are very entertaining.


Mullet can be caught in a wide range of places from bays and estuaries to ocean surf beaches. Regardless of where they are caught, they tend to always be in quite shallow water.

Throughout Port Phillip Bay, mullet seem to be confined to the rivers that run into the bay. These include Swan Bay near Queenscliff, Werribee River, Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers, Mordialloc Creek, Patterson River, Balcombe Creek and of course all the smaller streams and rivers.

Western Port is quite different; of course all of the creeks and inlets such as Hastings, Rutherford Inlet, Tooradin and the Bass River produce mullet in abundance, but other areas such as the Tyabb and Quail Banks, Middle Spit, Tortoise Head Bank, Lang Lang, Stony Point and all the shallow flats are also productive.

Having good and easy access around both Port Phillip Bay and Western Port, mullet are an available catch from all of the local surf beaches. Catching mullet in the surf is no different to any other location except that they will be more in abundance on the low tides when the waves aren’t as aggressive. In this case, you’ll find them right in the shore break and can often be seen in vast numbers amongst the waves with the aid of a little berley.


One of the most attractive advantages of fishing for mullet is that anglers can target them with any old rod and reel. They won’t necessarily put a big strain on your tackle, so you won’t have to go out and specifically purchase an entire new setup to catch them.

Ideally though, due to them being quite a small fish, extremely light tackle is recommended. A 7ft rod with small 2500 Series reel will do comfortably and if you’re going to use braid, 4lb is more than enough in all locations. The setup for mullet can differ greatly amongst anglers.

In a river or around the mouth of a river a float setup works very well. Floats can be set up using 3lb leader and a few BB split shot to balance it. There is nothing more exciting than watching a float only to see it disappear under the surface when a fish takes the bait, especially for entertaining the kids.

Aside from float fishing, a simple paternoster rig is also effective. Once again, rig it from very light leader and use the smallest sinker weight the current will allow for. Mullet have quite a small and soft mouth and when hooked, a heavy sinker may cause the hook to pull when striking to set it.

Hooks are another valid talking point. If the wrong hook is used you’ll limit your catch rate. Mullet have a very small mouth mainly used for sucking in small baits, which is were a size 6 or circle hook or size 10 or 12 long shank hook is vital to get the most secure hook set.


I can’t say I have ever met a fussy mullet; in fact they would have to be the least fussy fish, aside from stingray. They are happy to take anything on offer, however they do have a few favourite delights.

Bait choice should be kept to soft fleshy types, such as slithers of pilchard fillet and small pieces of pipi. Mullet will approach a bait with a quick sucking/tearing motion try to tear it into smaller pieces to swallow. While bait presentation can be disregarded, baits do have to be very small so they can swallow them whole without the need to tear at them.


Most mullet fishing tends to be from either a pier or from the bank of a river by land-based anglers. One of the most effective techniques is to use a berley pot loaded with crushed berley pellets. The berley pot can be lowered to the sea floor where the current will disperse the berley thus attracting the fish. Providing you cast your baits into the trail, you will soon see action.

Although Western Port is quite tidal, understanding the tides and fishing during the right times is vital. An example would be when fishing from Stony Point Jetty. Fishing for mullet is very productive from here but this location fishes its best on the first two hours and last two hours of the run-out tide about 50m up from the 6 old wooden posts.

With a berley pot sitting on the bottom, there will be plenty of mullet that will come in when the trail is established.

From the boat, fishing shallow is where you’ll find them in numbers. Usually anglers catch mullet while whiting fishing and tend to toss them back as they are after a more delectable fish. The Middle Spit, Tyabb and Quail banks are the most popular of locations.

There’s no doubting that mullet are fun to catch and if you’re looking for a fish for the kids to tangle with, then look no further. With just a few simple techniques, you too can be entertained to the extreme.

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