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Old 25-03-2013, 06:34   #1
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Gulf Coast Mullet

Not the hair cut, although there do seem to be a few back here on the country music side of the state.

So I was messing around with the casting net on the dock the other day and a kid tells me there's a bunch of great big mullet down the other end. A few minutes and one throw later I had half a dozen big (15-18") mullet swimming in my livewell while I contemplated their fate.

Lacking a smoker on the boat, and somewhat curious about how they'd clean up conventionally, I broke out the fillet knife and discovered there's not as much meat to them as it would seem. Good thing you net em up in batches. Though a bit thin, the meat looked nice and clear, especially once I got the skin off of it, and I figured I'd fry some up and see if my Dad's liking for fried mullet was justified or just a product of growing up on the redneck riviera.

Down in the galley, I set to a bowl of cornbread mix with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and some weird Med spice blend that smelled like it'd go well in the breading. I wet the meat with water, powdered it up and dropped it in the oil. A few minutes later I tried a bite and I have to say.......

Flats fishers cover your ears cause you're not gonna like this one bit.

Fried mullet is better than Redfish, better than trout, and.......gulp.......I can say this.....it's better than grouper.

You don't get a great big thick fillet, so there's a place for the big guys, but if you just want some fish and chips action, or someting to make a fish hoagie with, fried mullet is the BOMB.

That and all you have to do is find a school of em, go up and throw a net over the bastards.


How are there still any of these left in Florida?
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Old 25-03-2013, 07:05   #2
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Re: Gulf Coast Mullet

Mullet are only good if they're fresh. They do not freeze well at all.

And it also depends on where you get them. Mississippi and eastward are considered edible. In Louisiana, one cast-nets for mullet so one can put them in crab nets or use them for cut bait. Ergo even Cajuns don't eat mullet, or none that I know of, anyway
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Old 25-03-2013, 07:12   #3
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Re: Gulf Coast Mullet

mullet are bait fish most everywhere i have seen em. tried em once--even bubba didnt eat them.
is a weak flavored whitefish with too many bones.
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Old 25-03-2013, 07:34   #4
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Re: Gulf Coast Mullet

In Alexandria - Egypt, Mullets are freshly caught, covered with salt in layers, then sealed in large cans for up to 120 days; ditto for sardines. After the 4 months of being in salt, sardines and mullets are opened up and cleaned then eaten (raw) with local pita bread, onions, green salad and lemons; the smell is not too appetizing, especially for foreigners. Salty mullets are sold in stores everywhere in Egypt, and are called "Fesikh" in Arabic language. I would not recommend eating salty mullets, as they smell rotting fish. On the other hand, salted raw sardines are OK to eat, if you can stomach the sharp smell. Just make sure that they're covered with freshly squeezed lemon/lime juice, in addition to having some onions and pita bread with it. Mauritz
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Old 25-03-2013, 07:50   #5
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Re: Gulf Coast Mullet

That Egyptian deal sounds like the first cousin of asian fish sauce. Repulsive in the making, but probably tasty in its own way.

They layer whatever sea creatures they get with salt and put it out in a kimchee pot in the sun until it liquefies. Then they tap it off in layers. The clear mild flavored stuff on top is most expensive, and the really nutritious sludge is cheap. The VC lived on darned near nothing but rice and number 10 fish sauce for the whole war.

Anyway, as nasty as it is, you eat it (or the regional equivalent) every time you order chinese. MMMMMMMmmmmm Macerated fermented fish!

That said, I don't do preserved seafood. It should still be twitching when it goes on the fire.
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Old 25-03-2013, 07:53   #6
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Re: Gulf Coast Mullet

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Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
mullet are bait fish most everywhere i have seen em. tried em once--even bubba didnt eat them.
is a weak flavored whitefish with too many bones.
That's what I had heard too, but since nobody used to eat lobster or catfish cause they were "trash", I figured I'd give em a try.

Add one more species to the "tasty" list. Trust the fat man. He knows good eats.

And there weren't any bones in the fillets the way I cut em. No Y bones or nuthin.

It was pretty mild, but that's a good thing with fish.
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Old 25-03-2013, 08:00   #7
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Re: Gulf Coast Mullet

i imagine the gulf coast silver mullet tastes a lot better than their bottom feeding muddy river relatives of interior florida.
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Old 25-03-2013, 08:43   #8
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Re: Gulf Coast Mullet

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 too.

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.)
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Old 25-03-2013, 09:05   #9
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Re: Gulf Coast Mullet

I grew up near a canal that often had large schools of mullet in it. Black families would come and fish for mullet with cane poles and white bread for bait. They were nice enough to teach me the technique which involves rolling the bread into small balls and putting it on a tiny hook. I never got as good at keeping the bread on the hook as they were but I caught my share of mullet. It was actually easier to just gig them but not as much fun. The schools were so big you just aimed for the middle of the school and you couldn't miss.
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Old 25-03-2013, 13:16   #10
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Re: Gulf Coast Mullet

In addition to freshly caught and fried, smoked mullet is a gift from the gods. I've been known to go way out of my way down to Cedar Key (Fl.) to find some.
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Old 25-03-2013, 13:17   #11
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Re: Gulf Coast Mullet

mullet are filter feeders... telling someone to pole-fish for mullet is tantamount to going snipe hunting... (although I did later learn there is such a critter as a snipe.)
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Old 25-03-2013, 13:29   #12
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Re: Gulf Coast Mullet

My sons took my cast net down to the salt water creek behind our house one day while I was at work. They caught several mullet and not knowing any better, they filleted & cleaned them just like I taught them with specks and reds. Mom fried them up and we had mullet for supper. I asked the boys how they caught the specks and they then said they weren't specks and described the fish. They were great eating!
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Old 25-03-2013, 13:39   #13
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Re: Gulf Coast Mullet

Biloxi Bacon, hmm, hmmm.
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Old 25-03-2013, 15:17   #14
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Biloxi Bacon, hmm, hmmm.
Yep!

They can be seen leaping out of the water 4-5 times in succession in the Mississippi Sound and its bayous.

Why do the mullet jump?

(It's a philosophical question)
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Old 25-03-2013, 16:20   #15
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Re: Gulf Coast Mullet

Mullets jump when a predator is after them. I was SCUBA shore diving in the evening, at Rangiroa atoll - French Polynesia, when all of the sudden a large school of mullets appeared and started to "dance around". The predators were black-tip sharks; they would scoop the mullets from the center of the school. All I could do was sit tight on the bottom, and watch! It was a spectacular view! Mauritz
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