I few weeks back I was lucky enough to get to do one of my favorite summer-time activities: Mullet snatching.
I realize that if I really wanted to fill the cooler with fish, a cast net is probably the best bet. But there’s just something about actually hooking a mullet on the rod and reel that’s exciting. They fight remarkably hard and the big ones will actually peel out quite a bit of line.
So while on my fishing trip to Port St. Joe, my dad and I got a bit of a late start and missed the early morning bite. After throwing just about everything in the tackle box for trout or reds, I noticed the huge schools of mullet that were balled up in the shallows. From past experiences, I almost always carry at least one snatch hook with me, and I was thankful to have brought one with me that day.
The first time that I ever went mullet snatching, I just used a big treble hook. I managed to hook a few fish, but lost far more than I landed. Even worse, I must have hit 10 times as many fish and only pulled back scales. My casting distance was pretty limited too since I was only throwing a bare treble hook.
After a bit of engineering, my snatch hooks changed a bit. First I solved the casting distance problem by wrapping the shank with lead wire. But, I was still having trouble landing and actually hooking fish. The problem with big treble hooks is that they have very thick points. This makes it harder to actually penetrate scales and get a good hook up. Small enough trebles might have narrow enough points to penetrate, but often lack enough of a gap between the shank and point to actually get a good hook up. Once we noticed this, my dad and I tossed out the treble hooks and started making our own custom hooks.
Using a fly tying vice, we tie three large soft plastic bait hooks back to back. The wraps are secured with liquid cement and if more weight is desired, we add a bit of lead wiring.
A good stiff rod with braid is ideal for mullet snatching. The stiff rod will help you really set the hook and the braid won’t stretch like mono does. The only thing left to do then is actually find the fish. Look for big groups of them and cast beyond the school. Try and judge how close the hook is to the back of the school and once it’s in position, set the hook. I mean -really- set it. A good, near herniating hook set will almost always result in a hook up. If you’ve casted far enough, the best hook set is directly overhead. Point the rod straight at the school and then set the hook toward the sky. Just be sure you aren’t too close when trying this hooking method. If you’re too close, you’ll be wearing the treble hook in the face. For close casts, set the hook sideways and ALWAYS wear glasses. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to Matrix dodge a soaring snatch hook.
Once you’ve got a good hook up, just hold on. They’re a hoot.