[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Wet Net Mullet Fishing Society in the Big Bend area of North Florida sponsored a Mullet Fishing Rodeo for members and guests back in the spring of 2014. We invited young and old to participate, and encouraged all types of mullet fishermen: those who wade, those who kayak and those who use a small boat. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperative for the event. But, despite a 25 to 30 mph onshore breeze and ominous skies, between 25 and 30 participants came out to enjoy the day.
Mullet fishing in North Florida does not really start heating up until around Memorial Day. Prior to that, there are fish to be caught, but they are not yet showing in our estuaries in the prodigious numbers that will come later in the summer. And, curiously, they are not inclined to give any indication that they are in the neighborhood: no jumping and few swirls of protest when the intrepid mullet fisherman comes near. When the water (and the fifishing) heats up in June, the fifish start to show their presence.
One of the goals of athering a big group for an event like our Rodeo, is to try to get as many people into the water as possible. Most of the recreational mullet fishermen who came out for the event brought along a son, a daughter, or a friend. Some of the younger men brought their girlfriends to walk with them as they cast. My own son brought his Sopchoppy girlfriend who knows well how to tote the fish bag. One of the other young men brought his girlfriend, and she actually managed to catch a full-sized mullet with her bare hands as it swam by – Amazing!
As a recreational net caster, I possess several passions. At the top of the list is my desire to show others the skills required to partake of this pastime. I am gratified that so many young people came out to the Wet Net Rodeo. There seems to be a healthy number of youngsters to whom we in Wakulla County will be leaving a legacy of net-casting knowledge. I would encourage fishing communities everywhere to be alert for the opportunity to pass down their skills to those coming behind. I also believe that coastal communities should be educated about local, sustainable, renewable resources that are available with a little effort and a bit of skill. Further, speaking strictly of mullet, I champion a focus on this under-appreciated resource. I believe that the lowly mullet is the most under-promoted of all major Florida seafood resources. I am amazed that there is not a sustained State-sponsored effort to raise its profile.
I am also passionate about encouraging people to do whatever it takes to use local
resources and their own ingenuity to support and sustain themselves. Our forbearers knew how to keep food on the table without the benefit of an EBT card and a nearby grocery store. They did it by harvesting local resources. We should find sustainable ways to do likewise. Oh, I understand that there are those in need of help from the government, but I would want that to be a last resort, not a first.
Just like a big mullet net, I want to spread my fishing knowledge around. I will never forget the day, some years ago, when a group of us men had some boys out in the water with us. A young man in his mid-to late-teens happened to be nearby when I was retrieving a fish after a cast. I asked him to hold that rather large bull mullet while I readied the fish bag. He hesitated grasping the fish when I handed it to him. He told me that he had never held a fish before. I asked him to clarify for me that he’d never held a mullet that size. He restated that he had never held ANY fish. How sad, I thought, that this young man, standing in knee deep water in Alligator Harbor with me, had never before had a chance to hold a muscular, writhing, determined fish. On the other hand, what a grand moment that was for the two of us. I have rarely in my entire life, felt so important!
Let’s get casting! Contact me at email@example.com or click to join me on Facebook at The Wet Net Mullet Fishing Society group page. You can access the page and request to be added to the group by typing “https://www.facebook.com/ groups/696693627012335/” into your search engine. E-mail if you have problems.