Robb White has a lot of mullet lore in his book "Flotsam and Jetsam." Here's an excerpt (apologies for the length):
Mullet are wonderful fish. They live together in a complicated social system that is as impossible for us to understand as anything. The doings of lots of species of social animals
like monkeys, birds, and bees have been pretty well figured out but about the only thing we know about mullet is that they are much smarter than it seems like any fish ought to be . . . way too smart for a common man to catch. One of the delights of the longtime residents of Florida (be careful of the use of that word native now; all of y’all don’t qualify) is watching people who don’t know any better throw lures and bait at a school
of high-jumping mullet. Usually the newcomers run around, exclaim excitedly, and put backlashes on their reels as they cast into the mullet school with no more effect than a slight interruption of the business of the fish as they allow the lure and line to pass and some amusement for spectators who think they know something. It looks like the fish examine the lure as it passes through the school. It is as if they think it is funny
Mullet, like porpoises and dolphins
, are too smart to bite silly-looking lures and little pieces of inferior food
with hooks in them and strings attached. I guess it is because they are capable enough to get anything they want anytime they want and they like it just exactly like they like it. Mullet can be caught on a hook and line but only in fresh water
where they go when they get ready and then only by special people who know exactly what they are doing. One lady told me that the fresh water makes them crazy. Crazy or not, no mullets are ever caught by the common fools you see all over the place.
Which, I have been trying all my life. When I was a little boy, my father bet me a new automobile that I couldn’t catch a mullet in salt water
with a fishing
rod on a single
hook. I beat the water of the Gulf of Mexico
into a froth with all sorts of various rigs and never caught a single
one. Just before he died, forty years later, I finally foul-hooked1 one by pure accident
. Wow, what an experience. That mullet fought like a bonefish and jumped like a tarpon . . . tore the line off my reel like he (actually she) weighed fifteen pounds but when I finally got her in, she was only about two and a half. I had to sit down in the bottom of the boat until my knees got strong again. When I wrote my father about it, he gave me joy of my fishing
, but reminded me that foul-hooked fish didn’t qualify for an automobile.
After years of frustration with fooling around, I sort of gave up the project
but only the hook-and-line part. I still itched to catch the elusive fish. Mullet are very good to eat. As a matter of fact, there is no fish that compares to fresh mullet. Sure there are other fish that are just as good, but mullet are something else. They are (I guess) strictly vegetarian. Whatever they are, they have a good fat content in the meat and that fat, while delicious, rapidly changes to the normal, ordinary flavor of mullet that has made them an eagerly anticipated major part of the diet of southerners within range of the Gulf Coast
for no telling how long. But real fresh mullet, killed near the frying pan, before oxygen has worked on the fat or the lysosomes in the cells have had a chance to affect the meat, is another thing entirely. There aren’t too many people who know what I am talking about. Certainly the smugly ignorant people who frequent tourist joints and “mullet tosses” and such have no idea.
Mullet have, probably because of that high fat content, the ability to keep without refrigeration
for a comparatively long time, for southern fish. They can be caught in seines and gill nets by expert people who have worked hard to learn how to outfox the cunning fish and the folks who do that just throw them into a box, without ice, and haul them to the fish house when they get through fishing They know that ice won’t help a bit to delay the change that occurs so rapidly after the fish are dead. Though, after a hard, hard day’s fishing, they might take a few out of the boat box home for supper, normally they sell the whole load and take the casting net to some little secret hole at dusk and get them a few fresh. It’s not an easy thing to do unless you know what you are doing but it sure is worth it. There just ain’t a fish like a mullet that has to be killed so he will hold still to be scaled and then mealed up and fried right then.
A casting net . . . now, that’s another wonderful thing. They are used all over the world and have been since no-telling-how-long . . . surely since biblical times. The fishing disciples of Jesus fished with casting nets. The New Testament says that they “cast their nets upon the water” and the Hebrew word used is the word that means “casting net.” Certainly the round net that is thrown by one person has fed the multitudes for thousands of years. . . .
(there's a lot more.)