- Special Sections
- Public Notices
As the water temperature has been cooling, the sounds and inlets of Brunswick County have been flooded with huge schools of mullet accompanying the fall winds in what is annually known as the mullet blow.
Bluefish, speckled trout, redfish and flounder follow those schools closely, picking off strays and gorging themselves on tasty mullet.
Fall is the best time to use finger mullet as live bait for inshore or surf saltwater fish, and fresh cut mullet is a solid second choice. You can gather live finger mullet in the sounds, waterways and creeks using a cast net. The schools are easy to spot as they skim the surface, with mullet jumping out of the water and always skittish due to all the predators that eat them including birds, fish and crabs.
A live finger mullet is a popular first option. You want to present the frisky little mullet in the most natural way, so use a fishfinder rig as your leader. Use monofilament or fluorocarbon leader; never use wire as it spooks fish like speckled trout and flounder. Wire is only a necessary choice if you are exclusively fishing for larger bluefish or sharks.
A fishfinder rig will allow the finger mullet to roam around and attract fish while letting you have a direct feel for what is going on at the end of your rig. To start the rig, add an egg sinker on your running line from your. Then tie on a black swivel. Don’t use shiny swivel because bluefish might bite it off.
Attach a length of 14 to 22 inches of 25-pound monofilament line or whatever strength fluorocarbon you want. Then tie on a number 1/0 or 3/0 Kahle-style hook or a circle hook. Remember, if you use a circle hook you won’t have to jerk the rod, the fish will hook itself.
Finger mullet live longer if you hook them through the eyes or just above the eye sockets. You can hook them through the lips if you want but they won’t live as long or be as lively on the hook. If bluefish are biting your finger mullet in half you may need to try hooking them just behind the little spiny ridge on the back.
You should cast your finger mullet into likely big fish spots: around pilings, rocks, under big mullet schools or around points and creek mouths. Don’t jerk the rig around too much. Give it a little hop up off the bottom so the finger mullet flashes to attract bites. Don’t be reluctant to pause in likely areas and let the finger mullet do the work.
Most anglers are familiar with the idea of fishing for red drum in the surf with cut mullet. What they may not know is that it is just as effective (if not more) to target red drum with live finger mullet. Red drum in the fall are cruising the surf and the waterways looking for roaming mullet schools, and if you can cast net yourself some frisky finger mullet you have a great chance of drawing a bite from a red drum.
If you are catching bluefish, speckled trout or redfish, then the fish will likely try to yank the rod from your hand on the hit. But if you are in flounder territory, be aware the flounder will hit your bait and then just hold a finger mullet in their mouths while they scale it with their teeth. That means if you jerk on the first hit, you’ll pull it out of the flounder’s mouth and just get back a mangled mullet.
Instead, if you feel a flounder hit (like a quick bump or striking a rock), give it some time and don’t do anything. Count to 30 if you can wait that long. Let the flounder get the finger mullet in its mouth properly and then strike the fish.
The redfish and flounder bites are strong now and there have been some speckled trout runs. Those fish are keying on the mullet. The piers have seen occasional spot runs and have decked some kings. Black drum and sheepshead are inshore around bridges and docks. Fall is here and it is a great time to go fishing in Brunswick County.