Cast Net Couture

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There’s a Hole In the Bottom of the Bay (Part One)

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] often kayak mullet fish alone. And anymore, it’s not often that my nearly grown teen son wants to get out on the water with me. Kids are so busy these days. He’s pretty independent, but I was much more so when I was his age, leaving home and striking out on my own at the age of seventeen. I was too hard- headed to know any better. Thankfully, he has a better head on his shoulders and we’ll credit his mom for that. Nevertheless, there isn’t a lot of time left in his busy schedule to kayak mullet fish with dear old dad. When we do manage to find the time, it becomes a day full of memories.

We both noticed about a week in advance that there was set to be a negative .7 tide in Alligator Harbor where we like to fish. We both knew what that meant. A negative .7 literally drains the water out of the bay. Alligator Harbor would be as dry as a bone. So we put in the kayaks early in the day, while the Harbor was still flflooded, and paddled across to the bars and marsh islands on the other side. Soon, we were seeing the telltale swirls of the fifishy protests that mullet like to make when you enter their kingdom. It was a beautiful late May day. ThThe air was warm and the water was still cool.

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We positioned ourselves in one of our favorite places to intercept fifish. It is a pinch point where the fifish are required to scoot by on their way out of the many channels. We would cast on swirls and miss. We would blind cast and miss. It seemed as though Mr. Mullet was going to give his human pursuers a real run for their money that afternoon. In the space of three hours, we had probably only managed to catch three fish. We finally decided to move.

There is a very large creek channel that drains a good portion of that part of the Harbor. The creek empties out into the bay through a series of oyster bars that form a mouth that is two hundred feet wide. Directly between the two bars, the tidal action of the bay scours a fairly deep hole that can be over your head on a medium high tide. But a little further up, the water becomes characteristically shallow again and remains so for the half mile that it courses to the very top end of the marsh. There is an exception – a very large and very deep artificial hole that was dug by dragline years ago against the west bank of the channel. We began to slowly walk up that big creek, casting as we progressed.

The first fish of the day that I caught was a very nice red. I could immediately tell that I had a red in the net from its muscular thrashing. I fish with a pocket net (a.k.a. Spanish braille or “short braille”), and as soon as I yanked the net out of the water, I could see the big fish in the pocket. I took him straight to the hill. Once I had him up on the oyster bar, the fight was over and he was ready for the ice box on the back of the ‘yak. One tug of the string tether, and the kayak glided up to me in the shallow water and red was packed away. Reid, on the other side of the channel, was catching a few mullet. He also had a nice trout. As the sun dropped lower in the sky, the water started barreling out of the bay. Just about dark, the bay would be dry. We worked up the creek, watching and casting. Our primary target, mullet, was hard to come by. It did not seem to be stacking up to be a good day. We kept at it. We’d fished all afternoon, and we were not going to go home with just a handful. Finally, things began to improve just at dusk. It is likely we were becoming less visible to our quarry. As the sun dropped to the horizon, we probably had a total of ten fish in the coolers on the back of the kayaks.

Reid volunteered to drop his boat and go further up the creek investigating some activity in the inches deep water. It appeared that some fish up there might be stranded. I decided to wait with my kayak in the deeper water while he trudged through the muck. He soon had a flounder laid on the hill and hollered for me to bring my kayak to get it. He marked its location with the red visor that he’d worn all day to keep the sun off of his face. There were more mullet laid out next to the flounder when I got there. He had already gone further on up the creek. (Look for the conclusion to this adventure in next month’s edition of Coastal Angler!)

Let’s get casting! Contact me at or click to join me on Facebook at The Wet Net Mullet Fishing Society group page.

Castfully yours…
Jeff Tilley