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The Weedless Mullet

Natural baits work wonders in the grass.

The trick in fishing frozen mullet is to lip hook it on a weedless hook and cast it to sandy potholes in the grass. You then retrieve the bait just like a jerkbait, with a twitch-pause, twitch-pause action. Amazingly, the bait bobs and weaves just like the real deal, and avoids hanging up in the grass. The trout and reds go berserk-and so do snook when you try this tactic in Florida waters.

Unless fishing for trout, the bait can remain motionless for a few seconds, allowing a predator to get a good look at it. As the hungry fish moves in closer for the kill, it will pick up the scent trail.

Since that Texas trip, I’ve been using the weedless mullet regularly, particularly during the summer months when the surface of the Indian River is covered with grass, making the use of just about any lure or bait impossible. The rigged bait is also very effective during periods of low tide or in super shallow water where the grass naturally reaches the surface, but productive potholes or deeper areas are nearby. With the weedless mullet, I can avoid detection by making a long cast to those areas without having to worry about the bait snagging any grass.

It’s always best to match the size of the hook to the length of the bait. In most cases, a 2/0 is the best match for the typical 3- to 4-inch mullet. I like the hooks with the metal weedguards because they’re stiff and won’t expose the point easily when bounced across a hard surface. The drawback to those hooks is that they’re made for fresh water; they tend to rust immediately and are relegated to a single use.

I’ve used the standard weedless J-shaped sproat hooks as well as the weedless wide-gap Kahle hooks with similar success.

Hook the mullet by running the hook through the top and bottom of the bait’s mouth. It’s important that the hook penetrate through the hard part of the forehead as you run the hook upward under the chin and through the top of the head. Hooking the bait strictly through the lips will cause it to cast off easily. This hookup also sometimes pulls out during a strike, leaving the fish well fed and the angler with an empty hook and a missed opportunity.

In extremely shallow water, the weedless mullet will not only zig and zag, but it will also zug and zog. With a fast retrieve or a hard snap of the rodtip, the bait will come to the surface and make an audible splash. A soft or short twitch can make it dive to the bottom and kick up sand.

Docks are another great arena for the weedless mullet, which can be skipped under the planks and twitched back out without concern for the bait catching on a piling. If the water is more than a few feet deep, a weedless leadhead can be used instead of a simple hook, to get the bait to swim down near the bottom where snook, flounder and seatrout like to hold. Bouncing the bait off the bottom will create small puffs in the sand that add speed and motion to the offering in the eyes of a predator.

Finger mullet can be hard to find at certain times, but if you freeze them in times of abundance, like during the fall run, you’ll have plenty when you need them.