The stars are going to align one of these years and I’m going to get the chance to fish the fall mullet run during a peak in the activity. Then I’ll be able to experience those things I keep talking about with people wanting to find Florida fishing at its best. So far this year I've enjoyed beautiful days on the beach with little success other than a bit of a sun tan and a bit of quality time with my loving wife.
Fingerling mullet congregate at the inlets then exit the intercoastal waterway as they begin their migration south along the Florida coast, headed to locations that provide a warmer climate than our waters once winter settles in. Their numbers are mind boggling in immensity and every predator along the coast will rush into the near-shore waters in search of an easy meal. Sharks, tarpon, snook, redfish, ladyfish, mackerel, bluefish, jacks, and just about anything else you can imagine will form a gauntlet of destruction and mayhem in the shallow coastal water, so swimming through mullet schools in the fall might not be the best idea given what lurks below. But dragging a mullet shaped bait or fly is a ticket to fun when your timing is right.
The mullet concentrations are highest close to the inlets where the ocean schools meet up with those coming out of the Indian River Lagoon System. So Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Matanzas, Ponce, Sebastian, Ft. Pierce, St. Lucie, and all points south will have ever increasing numbers of fish running along the coast. Your task is to find them and their predators. Hopscotch along the coast by checking out the sea conditions at each beach access point and county or city park. Don’t spend too much time in any one location if you don’t see any activity either below or above the surface. Bird activity is a surefire indicator of good things to come.
Live bait, artificial lures, and flies can all be productive as long as they imitate a…..Wait for it…..MULLET. Not much else will work this time of year so don’t bother carrying a whole bunch of shrimp and crab imitations. The big boys are looking for a bite-size meal not some little appetizer. Rapala, MirrOlure, Yo Zuri, Bomber, and others have created very lifelike imitations but even a simple bucktail jig can produce. Flies would be my choice but the conditions have to be right for a fly rod to be an effective tool. Medium to heavy action spinning tackle, and eight through 12 weight fly rods all have their place depending on the intended quarry. Be prepared for anything.
Regardless of your tackle choice, the month of October can be some of the best angling of the year if you have the time to hit the east coast. Keep heading south till you find favorable conditions and signs of activity. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have success the first day. Keep at it and try again next year about the same time. Things will come together for you someday just like they will for me and my wife…… Hopefully!
Brian “Beastman” Eastman
White River Fly Shop