How To Fish For Mullet

Mullet is a group of ray-finned fish found in coastal temperate and tropical waters worldwide, with some species favoring freshwater environments. These fish are known for their distinctive silvery appearance, small mouths, and robust bodies. They are primarily herbivorous, feeding on algae, detritus, and other small organic particles. Mullet is often recognized for its strong swimming abilities and unique behavior of jumping out of the water, which is thought to help them avoid predators or remove parasites.

Fishing for mullet can be unique compared to other types of fishing because mullet primarily feed on algae and detritus, making them less likely to bite traditional baits. Anglers often target mullet for their fighting spirit and the challenge they present, as well as for their value as bait fish for larger predators. This guide will cover the effective techniques for catching mullet, including the appropriate gear setup, bait and lure strategies, and insights into their habits and habitats.

Mullet Fishing Setup

The most common tackle for catching mullet includes a light to medium-light action rod, paired with a spinning reel that can handle 6-10 pound test line. This setup offers the sensitivity needed to detect the soft bite of a mullet and the strength to reel them in effectively. The ideal rod length is between 7 to 9 feet, which provides ample casting distance and control, especially important when fishing from shorelines or piers.

For the best mullet fishing setup, anglers often opt for a simple, yet effective rig known as the float rig. This rig consists of a small, clear float or bobber attached to the line, a 2-4 foot leader of 4-8 pound test fluorocarbon to reduce visibility, and a small hook, typically in the size range of #6 to #10. The light line and small hook are crucial, as mullet have keen eyesight and can be deterred by anything that appears unnatural in their environment.

Best Bait For Mullet

Mullet primarily feed on algae, detritus, and small organic particles in the water. Their diet is predominantly herbivorous, focusing on microscopic organisms and plant matter. However, they will occasionally consume small invertebrates, making them adaptable to various bait types when fishing.

The best live bait for mullet includes small pieces of bread, dough balls, or algae-based baits. These items closely mimic the natural food sources of mullet, making them highly effective. Anglers often use a small hook hidden within these baits to trick the mullet into biting. Since mullet have small mouths, the bait must be appropriately sized to ensure it is both enticing and hookable for the fish.

Mullet Fishing Techniques

Bread Bait Fishing

Bread bait fishing is a highly effective method for catching mullet, especially in areas where these fish feed on surface materials. The setup involves using small hooks, light line, and floating bread as bait. This technique is most effective in calm, clear waters where mullet are visible at the surface, such as marinas, piers, and along riverbanks. Anglers often soften the bread to mold it around the hook, making it less noticeable. Chumming the water with small bread pieces can significantly increase your catch rate by attracting more mullet to the area.

Fly Fishing

Fly fishing for mullet is an artful technique that appeals to anglers looking for a challenge. This method requires a fly rod, a floating line, and flies that mimic the small insects or algae mullet feed on. It’s most effective in shallow, clear waters where anglers can spot mullet and cast directly to them. Precision in casting and the ability to mimic the natural movement of mullet prey with the fly are crucial for success. This technique shines during the warmer months when mullet are more active and feeding at the surface.

Cast Netting

Cast netting is arguably the most efficient technique for catching large numbers of mullet, especially during their spawning season. This method involves throwing a circular net over a school of mullet and then pulling it back in. The setup requires a well-made cast net with weights evenly distributed along the edges. It’s most effective in shallow waters where mullet schools are visible, such as estuaries, flats, and near beaches. Timing is essential, with dawn and dusk being the prime times for cast netting, as mullet tend to feed more actively during these periods.

Best Time To Catch Mullet

  • When do Mullet spawn? Mullet spawn in late fall to early winter.
  • Best time of day to catch Mullet? Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to catch Mullet because they are more active and feed near the surface during these times.
  • Best time of year to catch Mullet? Late summer to early winter is the best time to catch Mullet, especially during their spawning season when they are in large schools and more aggressive.


In spring, the best time to catch Mullet is during the early morning hours. As the water temperatures begin to warm, mullet become more active and start feeding more aggressively. Float fishing with light tackle and baits like bread or dough can be very effective during this season. This technique allows for precise placement of the bait in areas where mullet are feeding, often in shallow waters or near the surface.


During summer, early morning and late afternoon are prime times for Mullet fishing, as the fish seek cooler waters and are more likely to feed actively. Fly fishing becomes particularly effective in summer, as mullet often feed on the surface on small invertebrates. Targeting estuaries, coastal lagoons, and areas where fresh water meets the sea can yield good results, using flies that mimic the natural prey of mullet.


Fall is the peak season for Mullet fishing, coinciding with their spawning season. Large schools of mullet can be found moving towards the open sea, making it an excellent time for both float fishing and bottom fishing. Early morning continues to be the best time for fishing, but during the spawning season, mullet can be caught throughout the day. Using techniques that can target groups of fish, such as cast netting (where legal), can also be highly effective.


In winter, mullet fishing can be challenging due to colder water temperatures and less active fish. However, on warmer days, especially in the late morning when the sun has warmed the shallow waters, mullet can still be caught. Bottom fishing with bait such as bread or algae can be effective, as mullet may feed closer to the bottom in search of warmer conditions.

Where To Catch Mullet

The best locations for catching Mullet include the coastal waters of Florida, the Gulf Coast, and the southern Atlantic states. These areas offer abundant estuaries, coastal lagoons, and river mouths where Mullet thrive, feeding on the rich organic material found in these environments.


Florida is renowned for its exceptional Mullet fishing, especially in the Indian River Lagoon, Tampa Bay, and the Florida Keys. The shallow, warm waters of these areas provide ideal conditions for Mullet. The most effective technique here is cast netting, which allows anglers to catch mullet in large numbers, especially during their spawning season in the fall.

Gulf Coast

The Gulf Coast, stretching from Florida to Texas, boasts prolific mullet populations. Regions such as the Mississippi Delta and Mobile Bay are renowned for their mullet fishing opportunities. In these locations, cast netting again proves to be the superior method, particularly in shallow waters where schools of mullet congregate. For anglers preferring rod and reel, bread bait or dough balls can be effective, especially when fishing from piers or along the shoreline.

Southern Atlantic States

The southern Atlantic states, including Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, feature vast marshes and estuaries that are ideal for Mullet fishing. In these areas, fly fishing comes into its own, especially in the clear, shallow waters where Mullet can be seen feeding. A fly rod with a floating line and flies designed to imitate small crustaceans or algae can be very effective. Precision casting to feeding schools and a subtle retrieval that mimics natural prey movements can be highly rewarding in these locations.

Tips To Catch Mullet On Rod And Reel

  • Start with a light to medium-light action rod, around 7 to 9 feet in length, paired with a spinning reel. This setup offers a good balance of sensitivity and casting ability.
  • Spool the reel with light line, preferably 4 to 8-pound test, to ensure stealth and to match the subtle biting nature of Mullet.
  • Use a small hook, sizes 10 to 14, as Mullet have small mouths. This size hook is perfect for the types of bait you’ll be using.
  • For bait, bread, dough balls, or small pieces of algae are ideal for beginners. These baits mimic the natural diet of Mullet and are easy to prepare and use.
  • To set up the hook, flatten a small piece of bread or form a dough ball around the hook, making sure the hook point is slightly exposed. For algae, hook it just once through the end to keep it natural and appealing.
  • Consider using a float or bobber rig. Attach the float to your line, then tie a 2 to 4-foot leader under the float, ending in your hook. This setup allows you to adjust the depth at which your bait is presented, keeping it in the strike zone.
  • Cast your bait into areas where you see Mullet jumping or feeding. These fish often feed on the surface or just below, so adjust your float to keep the bait at the right depth.
  • Be patient and watch the float for any movements or dips that indicate a bite. Mullet bites can be subtle, so a quick and gentle hook set is necessary.

Using Mullet As Bait

Using mullet as bait can be highly effective for targeting a wide range of predatory fish, especially in saltwater environments. Here are some of the fish species you can catch with mullet as bait:


Snook are ambush predators that feed on smaller fish, including mullet, especially around structures like piers, bridges, and mangrove roots. Snook fishing with live mullet on a free line or under a float is an effective technique as snook like to attack baitfish from cover.

Redfish (Red Drum)

Redfish are commonly found in shallow waters and prey on mullet in shallow waters, flats, and estuaries. Anglers find success using cut mullet or live mullet on the bottom, as the scent and movement attract redfish looking for an easy meal. This redfish fishing technique is effective in both clear and murky waters.

Striped Bass

Striped bass feed on mullet in estuarine and coastal environments. Live mullet trolled or drifted near the bottom can be very effective for striper fishing, especially in areas with strong tidal currents.


Tarpon are known for their incredible size and fighting ability. They are attracted to mullet due to their oily flesh, which releases a strong scent in the water. Anglers often use live mullet to catch Tarpon, hooking them through the lips or back to keep them swimming naturally. This technique is particularly effective when fishing in channels, around bridges, or near the mouths of rivers where tarpon feed.

Kingfish (King Mackerel)

Kingfish are pelagic predators that hunt for mullet in open water. Trolling with live mullet near the surface or using rigged dead mullet can attract the attention of kingfish. The key is to mimic the swimming patterns of mullet, making the bait appear as a natural part of the kingfish’s diet.