Fly fishing mullets from a kayak

Mullets are quite abundant in Spain, both on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coasts, They are most often referred to as múgil, llisa or corcón. If you ask the locals, you will notice that very few are interested in fishing them, despite the fact that it is one of the strongest and fiercest fighting fish around. There is a simple reason for this: mullets feed on plankton and other organic matter which they filter from the surface or scrape off underwater rocks. They also often live in the brackish waters of the river estuaries and the water quality of many Spanish rivers, even if not so bad, is still much worse than that of the open seas. Therefore, mullets are treated with disdain and relegated to the role of 'water pigeons' or 'water rats'.

Mind you, mullet caught in the open ocean (around the Canary Islands, for example) is known for its exquisite meat, comparable to that of a sea bass.

Perhaps the low popularity of mullet among the Spanish fishermen explains why it is possible to encounter huge shoals of these fish, with some specimens reaching a size of 70cm.

The way I fish mullet is simple: a fly fishing tackle with a floating line (7 weight is perfect) and a long, 9 feet leader. The long leader is important because mullets are very shy and flee at any suspicious movement or sound. I have seen big shoals of mullets escape in panic just because a tiny swallow descended towards the water surface to catch insects.

An orthodox fly fisherman would only use dry flies but after 2 days of very meagre results, I decided to adopt a 'reformist' approach. Since mullets feed on surface, in principle an imitation of bread crumbs and bread crust should work. Unfortunately, these fish are not that stupid - I can assure that a mullet will choose a piece of real bread over even the best of imitations. These fish rarely grasp a whole bit with their mouths. What they do instead is to grab the bait carefully and suck it in slowly. That's why I sugggest tying a hook size 10/12 and putting a piece of bread crust that will nicely float for at least a minute.

Cast a few metres away (to reach the shoal but close enough to still see the floating bait) and focus on the hook. It will be difficult to spot the right moment but you need to hook them up the very instant the bread disappears in their mouth. One second too early or too late and it won't work.

After a few days' training, I managed to catch around 2 mullets per hour, which I consider quite an achievement!

Enjoy fishing mullets and check out my video below.

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