Mullet attracting big fish

  • George Holstrom, Josh Holstrom and Will Blankenship, from left, are pictured with a giant Amelia Island sea trout caught with a minnow-type plug. TERRY LACOSS/SPECIAL
    George Holstrom, Josh Holstrom and Will Blankenship, from left, are pictured with a giant Amelia Island sea trout caught with a minnow-type plug. TERRY LACOSS/SPECIAL

We live on the backwaters of Langsford Creek and get to watch a lot of changes in the tides, waterfowl and fish migrations. During the winter months, I have watched egrets and white pelicans dipping their bills deep down into the mud and shell bottom, seeking to find crabs and other crustaceans.  

There hasn’t been much in the way of fish and bait fish action as the quiet waters of the back-bay where we live have been fishless.

However, within the last few days, a huge transformation has taken place and is welcome. Large numbers of schooling mullet have migrated into the creek along with a variety of game fish.

Just the other night, Glenda Crosby and I watched a three-foot bonnethead shark fin its way to a shallow water blue heron that had corralled a school of mullet in just six inches of water. When the shark became too close for comfort, the blue heron slashed its large bill at the shark, which immediately swam for safety.

Numerous wakes in the shallow edges of the fishy creek indicated redfish had returned to feed in the shallow bay.

During high tide periods, we have witnessed sea trout busting schools of mullet on the surface. And, our favorite water birds, the colorful pink roseate spoonbills, have made their presence in our now fishy bay.

One of my best-ever backwater fishing outings took place in the lower reaches of Boggy Creek, where redfish, sea trout, flounder, stripers and largemouth bass were feeding on the abundant migration of mullet. The entire creek was showcasing numerous schools of mullet making their way on the surface in the middle of the tidal river and along the edges.

During our morning of casting a floating silver and black 11-inch rapala along the edges of the schools of mullet produced big catches of sea trout redfish and black bass. 

During previous trips to these same waters, I had found very little bait fish action, and the catches we had made came while fishing a led head jig and plastic tail combo deep along the bottom.

On a more recent note, the local backwater fishing party of Carter Thrift, Charlie Palmer and James Caddell spent hours after dark flounder gigging and harvested two nice flounder measuring 23 and 22 inches.

“The following morning, we began casting surface plugs during the middle of the falling tide, when there were lots of mullet schooling,” Thrift said. “We managed to coax two big sea trout to our topwater plugs, including a 21- and 22-inch spotted sea trout.”

Kent Poteat and his cousin, Noah Poteat, also enjoyed excellent backcountry fishing recently. Big schools of mullet were working in a shallow Amelia Island bay.

“Noah managed to hook into a huge 30-inch redfish while working a led head jig and brown bucktail slowly in front of that big red,” Kent Poteat said. “The fight that followed was incredible, watching Noah play that big red in the shallow waters of the bay.”

There are also a lot of brackish lagoons located on Amelia Island where mullet make their home. Some of these freshwater mullet can grow quiet large, from 2-3 pounds.

“I had just purchased a 12-foot surf fishing rod and wanted to see how it would cast,” Keith Williams said. “Instead of making that long walk to the beach, I simply walked to a large brackish lake located right in back of my house. There were several large mullet working in the lake, making big jumps and landing on their sides with a big splash.

“I tied a 3/4-ounce Rattle Trap on to the business end of my 20-pound braided fishing line and made one heck of a long cast. During the middle of my retrieve, a huge largemouth bass attacked my minnow-type plug. It was a 10-pound largemouth bass.”

On one of my favorite fishing trips, I was targeting tarpon, shark, kings and cobia at the southern portion of Amelia Island when the mullet are schooling right in the surf and just off the surf. One of the greatest outdoor happenings is watching tarpon bust through a school of mullet in the shallows of the surf.

The current mullet migration has been key to a wide variety of local fishing action, and some of the largest game fish of the year are available to test your fishing skills.