Mullet on Fly - It's a StartThe Derwent Estuary on Hobart's doorstep has many opportunities for the keen fly enthusiast.
To begin fly fishing, the Derwent is perfect and there always being a sheltered bay or corner that can potentially produce some top quality sport fish. Common catches are made up of small Australian salmon; barracouta; bream; flathead; cod and, of course, the humble mullet.
I found the Derwent to be a perfect playground with the calm, tranquil and most importantly close waters often being a better option than the lakes. The Derwent contains very large numbers of yellow eye mullet all year round with reliable catches.
The same as most species, when they're on, they're on, but when they're not, they're really not. More often than not mullet are easy with them readily taking the fly, especially small wet patterns, but also quite surprisingly large wets. Although sometimes when fishing is difficult, a small well-presented shrimp pattern may be their only downfall.
Where to Fish
Tasmania has mullet scattered throughout with the East Coast estuaries and the Derwent providing the most reliable sport. In particular the Derwent is my little hot spot, the river holding good fish throughout, especially from South Arm up to the Bridgewater Bridge. Mullet like structures and wherever there is an old jetty, wharf or wreck, or even better a large reef system, there will be mullet nearby.
Mullet are not a deepwater species with the fish often cruising the shallows in search of food. This is where polaroiding for mullet is quite enjoyable. When fishing more open water around beaches etc., fishing the edges of drop-offs and channels will improve your chances. Locations to try are Sandy Bay Beach; Bellerive Bluff; directly under the Tasman Bridge; Bowen Bridge; Otago Bay and Granton.
When to Fish
Tidal movement is the key - no run, no fun being the saying. The more the tide moves the more the mullet move. Personally, I like the last hour of the outgoing tide. A Bushy's Horror quickly retrieved through the mussel-covered rocks will often entice a mullet, hopefully for a solid hook-up. The most reliable catches are taken of a very early morning or late in the afternoon.
Mullet will often feed well into the dark, this being one of the best times to catch them. In the moonlight is when they to be at their most active. This is when some of the larger fish start to move. Quick, accurate casting is the key to success. Sight fishing is the way to go with these fish, being easily seen just under the surface or doing the opposite and leaping from the water as they move in the current.
How to Fish
The gear is simple. Your standard trout gear will suffice. Suitable fly rods should be of 9 ft in length simply because the length will assist in power when you need to cast into that occasional bit of breeze.
Suggested weights are anything from #5 through to #8. The reel is not important, although make sure it has a reasonable line capacity with plenty of backing, a necessity whenever you fish anywhere in saltwater.
I am a big fan of weight forward fly lines and only use double tapers in the lakes where presentation is crucial. When chasing mullet, presentation is not of huge importance. Weight forward lines make for easy casting.
Headers and tippets are totally up to the individual angler. I recommend a 9 ft leader with approximately a 6 lb tippet. These days with so much gear on the market fluorocarbon is the way to go - Black Magic being my preference. Note that it is good to be cautious and not to go light because amongst the mussels and oysters there are also other fast-moving predators such as salmon, sea trout, bream et cetera. Light tippets may not be enough to hold these fish in such an environment.
More often than not the pattern you use is not really relevant. Patterns which often produce the goods are: Bushy's Horror; Derwent Whitebait; Wooly Bugger; Grey Ghost; Olive Matuka; nymphs and shrimp patterns.
Mullet are a species that can truly help expand our fishing knowledge, being open to suggestions. Try some of your own patterns and see if they will do the trick.