If you’ve ever fished off the coast of Florida or the Gulf of Mexico, you’ve probably seen mullet. They’re one of the most common baitfish on the southeast coast and a natural prey for many saltwater sports fish. Tarpon, sailfish, bluefish, mackerel, roosterfish, mangrove snapper, and more all love eating mullet. This means they make a killer live bait if you rig them properly. So how do you hook mullet?
Turns out, there are many different ways to hook mullet depending on your application. In this article, we’ll go over how to hook mullet in various parts of their bodies depending on the type of fishing you’re doing. We’ll also go over what the best size hooks are for mullet, as well as how you can catch mullet on your own. Next time you go fishing off the coast of Florida, you’ll be ready to use mullet for any type of presentation you choose.
Best Ways to Hook Mullet
If you didn’t know this already, there are many “correct” ways to hook mullet. We’ll start with the most common methods and catalog the appropriate use for each. Depending on where you want to fish your bait as well as what kind of fish you’re fishing for, you’ll want to hook your mullet differently.
How to Hook Mullet Through the Jaw
Hooking mullet through the jaw is the most common method of rigging mullet, and gives you the most flexibility in presentation. You can hook mullet through the jaw two different ways. If you’re using a larger mullet, hook it up and out through the upper jaw.
Author Note: This will ensure more hook is exposed and be more effective for hooking larger fish. It also allows the mullet to keep its mouth open and get more oxygen over its gills. This means that it will live longer and swim faster once you cast it out.
If you’re using a smaller mullet, run the hook through the bottom jaw up through the upper jaw – effectively hooking both jaws. This will prevent smaller mullets from ripping free when you cast them or when they’re frantically swimming in the water. If you’re interested more about fish anatomy, check out our fish poop article.
How to Hook Mullet Through the Nose
The second most popular style of hooking mullet is to hook it through the nose. Hooking it through the nose doesn’t restrict swimming movement, allows them to keep their mouth open, and promotes swimming towards the surface. This also tends to work best will smaller mullet, as larger ones may be able to rip free. Hook the mullet through one side to the other directly through the nostrils or directly behind them. This is our favorite technique for tarpon and sharks.
How to Hook Mullet Through the Back
Hooking mullet through the back is a great choice when you aren’t having any trouble getting bites, but for some reason, you aren’t able to set the hook. Hooking mullet through the back or dorsal fin usually fixes this problem, as a majority of the hook is exposed and its in the middle of where most predatory fish strike. It also injures them more and encourages them to swim downward. Large sports fish will find this irresistible.
How to Hook Mullet Through the Throat
Hooking mullet through the throat is your best bet when bottom fishing. Why? Because it encourages the mullet to swim down into the middle of the water column where predators like to hunt. If you truly want it on the bottom, simply add an egg sinker right before your leader. Hook the mullet through the throat just behind the bottom of the gills. Be careful not to hit the gills, otherwise, your mullet will die quickly.
How to Hook Mullet Through the Tail
Lastly, we wanted to cover how to hook mullet through the tail. Hooking mullet through the tail will encourage them to swim down and forward as it tries to escape the hook. Hook the mullet through one side right between the tail and the anal fin. We don’t particularly like hooking mullet through the tail because it tends to hinder hook sets and can injure the fish too quickly.
What Type of Hook Should You Use for Live Mullet?
We recommend using an inline or offset circle hook for mullet. Circle hooks have been around for decades, and are the most effective when fishing with live bait. A circle hook is made so the point is at a 90-degree angle or less to the shank. This causes the hooks to almost always hook the fish in the corner of the jaw and allows live mullet to swim relatively naturally while hooked.
What Size Hooks for Mullet?
The size hook you should use depends on both the kind of sports fish you’re fishing for and the brand of circle hooks. Unfortunately, hook sizes vary by provider. Some brands call a 1/0 the same size as a 1 or 2/0. We recommend using circle hooks sized between 4/0 and 7/0 for most saltwater fish. Use hooks closer to 4/0 when fishing for redfish, bluefish, black drum, mackerel, and snook. For tarpon, sharks, and billfish, we use circle hooks closer to 7/0.
What is the Best Way to Catch Mullet?
If you want to save some money and catch your own mullet, we recommend using either a baitfish trap or jigging for them with a mullet rig. You can often find mullet hiding under piers or near other coastal structures. In order to build a mullet rig, you’ll need a ¼ oz sinker, several #2 hooks, and 6 lb test fishing line.
- Cut a 4-foot long piece of your 4 lb test leader.
- Tie the ¼ sinker onto one end.
- Then tie 6-inch pieces of leader every 4 inches, and tie a #2 hook onto each.
- After you’ve tied on 4 or 5 hooks, tie a barrel swivel onto the end without the sinker.
- Add a piece of corn or PowerBait to each hook, and you’re good to go!
When is the Best Time to Catch Mullet?
We recommend fishing for mullet a day or two before your big fishing outing. With any fish, the best time to catch them is early in the morning or right before sunset. As we mentioned before, underwater structures are a great place to start looking for mullet. If it’s close to their spawning season (late summer through fall), you can often find big schools of mullet just outside the surf.
Author Note: Cast your mullet rig into the schools and you’ll have a few on in no time.
Using live mullet as bait is the gold standard when fishing for saltwater game fish in Florida and many parts of the Gulf of Mexico. If you go fishing during the mullet run in the fall, you’re almost guaranteed to catch something when using a live mullet.
We’ve caught almost every species of sports fish (even sturgeon) using live mullet, and it continues to be our top choice when fishing in the south. We hope you now know how to hook mullet for rigging live bait, and are ready for your next fishing adventure.