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LOOKING FOR A MULLET RUN

It's often short, but always sweet, that immediate blast of action that comes as finger mullet pour out of the bays and estuaries on their southern migration, with bass, blues and weakfish on their tails.
By Fred Golofaro
LOOKING FOR A MULLET RUN
As Doc Muller shows, look for mullet runs to develop near inlet mouths and along beaches adjacent to inlets and breachways.

Mullet runs might not be what they once were, what with striped bass stocks currently down, but the possibility of encountering stripers feeding on mullet as they depart our bays and harbors is still a real possibility, and now is the time.

Look for that first good temperature drop, or better yet, that drop in temperature accompanied by a northeast blow. Those factors are sure to get the mullet moving, and if there are bass in the area, you can count on them feasting on the hapless baitfish.

I still yearn for that change in weather on a cool September morning with scud racing across the sky on the tail of a northeast breeze. You awaken and there is a scent and feel to the air that alerts your senses to the need to be on a beach – a beach somewhere where mullet should be departing the cooling waters of the bays. When stripers are in abundance, the potential for action is great. Not so much these days but still enough to create a sense of urgency to be on a beach where mullet and stripers might meet.

Mullet are hard to mistake. Hundreds of tiny V-wakes moving tight to the shoreline are a sure giveaway to their identity. For those with a good nose, their musty scent betrays them even when they are not visible on the surface or in a rough surf.

One of the highlights of this fishing is that stripers on mullet are usually suckers for top water plugs like poppers and metal lips. Poppers can be especially effective when you have some white water to work with. They work best when you swim them slowly on the surface with intermittent pops. Minnow shaped swimmers like Bombers and SP Minnows are also very effective but lack the dramatic surface strike. Blue always seems to be the favored color when mullet are around, but white seems to draw its share of strikes most days. Casting and working these plugs parallel to the beach can be especially effective since the baitfish and bass are often within yards of the shoreline.

For those who think color is a non-factor, let me relate a mullet run blitz on Long Island’s Cedar Bar at the mouth of Fire Island Inlet some years back. If you had a blue popper, you were into fish on virtually every cast – stripers from 10 to 30 pounds. Any other color and you spent most of your time watching others beaching fish. I always carried several cans of spray paint in my truck for just such occasions, and spent a considerable amount of my time spraying other anglers’ plugs. Unfortunately, the blitz atmosphere did not allow time for the paint to dry on most of the plugs and stripers were being landed with streaks of blue paint running down their gill covers and flanks.

Every September, I cross my fingers that we will see a solid mullet run, meaning lots of mullet with stripers feeding on them. Too often in recent years we have had the mullet but not the stripers. When it does happen, it is usually of short duration – maybe a couple or a few days. But if you get in on it, it could be the best action you will have all fall, so make the most of it.

I still stir as the nights turn cool and the weather map reveals the prospect of an approaching northeast blow. The odds may be against it, but I know I will be somewhere where the possibility exists of broad shouldered stripers cruising the curls of a wave as they feast on harried schools of mullet - mostly because if it happens, I won’t want to miss it.

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