Published On: Mon, Dec 1st, 2014

Yellow-eyed Mullet – Aldrichetta forsteri – found in harbours, estuaries, tidal rivers

Yellow-eyed mullet.

A smallish yellow-eyed mullet caught in the Waimakariri River. They seem to school by size. Sometimes you can catch quite a few big ones at the same time. They will readily take small flies as well as baited hooks.

Yellow-eyed Mullet

Yellow-eyed mullet are often incorrectly called herrings

Yellow-eyed Mullet – Aldrichetta forsteri are a small inshore fish. A big one can reach 40cm. They like to feed from algae on rocks and will eat other small creatures that happen their way.

Yellow-eyed mullet have small mouths so it is essential to fish for them with small size 8 hooks. If you find they are taking your bait without getting hooked try smaller hooks. Also, try lifting your rod tip when you feel them nibble the bait. I have found Kamasan size 10 Grubber hooks work really well.

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Yellow-eyed mullet shoal by size. Smaller fish like this one just 60mm in length can be found in huge shoals over the summer around river mouths and along the coast.

Yellow-eyed mullet shoal by size. Smaller fish like this one just 60mm in length can be found in huge shoals over the summer around river mouths and along the coast.

They will take just about any sort of bait. Saltwater shrimp, or yabbie, is the best bait of all. But they will take small cut fish baits, bits of worm, squid or even small rolled-up balls of bread.

Yellow-eyed mullet.

A bigger yellow-eyed mullet taken on a small bait fly.

Fishing for mullet is greatly improved if you can toss berley on the water every few minutes to hold them in the area. Good berley can be made for mullet in a 20-litre bucket by mixing bread, blood and bone, fish scarps and the like together with water and stirring with a stick. Toss on the water a cupful at a time. You can fish for yellow-eyed mullet from riverbanks, wharves, bridges and rocks in the tidal zone of rivers. I have caught them in the Kaiapoi River at the motorway bridge at least 5km from the sea.

Yellow-eyed mullet move around quite a bit feeding mostly on algae. They can be found in the surf zone on ocean beaches, at river-mouths, coastal lagoons and they will travel quite some distance upstream within the tidal influence of coastal rivers.

Yellow-eyed mullet taken on a sabiki rig.

Six yellow eyed mullet caught at once on a sabiki rig from a launch in the Marlborough Sounds. If you cast berley on the water you can often attract a whole school of mullet to your fishing position.

Yellow-eyed Mullet – Aldrichetta forsteri

Yellow-eyed Mullet – Aldrichetta forsteri

This species is known as herring by many people. This is incorrect; they are not herrings at all. Fresh yellow-eyed mullet make excellent surfcasting bait, particularly for red cod. It also freezes well to be used later as bait. Big ones are very good butterflied open and cooked in the hot smoker. See catching yabbies to use for yellow-eyed mullet bait.

Yellow-eyed mullet will readily take a small fly. They are great fun to catch on light gear.

Yellow-eyed mullet will readily take a small fly. They are great fun to catch on light gear.

Yellow-eyed mullet are sight feeders so it is important that the water is clear when you target them.

About the Author

- Fishingmag.co.nz website editor.