MULLET; SAND, SEA and YELLOW-EYE
Sci: Myxus elongatus, Mugil cephalus and Aldrichetta forsteri

Common names: The sand mullet is also commonly known as the "lano" or "tellegalene" mullet in some areas, while the sea mullet is called "bully" mullet or simply "bully", as well as "hard-gut" mullet and river mullet. The yellow-eye mullet is known as "pilch" in some places, while juveniles of all three species are often called poddy mullet or "poddies".

Description: The sea mullet is a fat, cylindrical fish characterised by a thick, transparent, gelatinous covering over the eyes. Its colouration varies, but is generally dark grey or green on the back with bright-silver flanks and a silvery-white belly. The sand mullet is a much more streamlined fish with a more pointed head and smaller eyes. A small, dark blotch is evident at the base of its pectoral fins. The yellow-eye mullet is characterised by its yellowish eyes and smaller, more easily dislodged scales.

Size: The sea or "bully" mullet is the giant of the mullet clan, although it is possibly rivalled in this regard by the tropical diamond-scaled mullet. Bully mullet commonly weigh from 0.6 to 1.5 kg or more, although those taken commercially in beach-netting operations often weigh between 1.5 and 3 kg, with exceptional giants approaching 5 kg. The sand and yellow-eye mullet are much smaller fish, rarely exceeding 0.7 kg.

Distribution: Sea mullet are found right around Australia, but are more common along the stretch of east coast between central Queensland and southern New South Wales. They are a schooling fish at all sizes, especially when migrating along the coast, which they tend to do in autumn and early winter. The sand mullet is an estuarine and inshore fish of the southern half of the continent, ranging form southern Queensland to southern Western Australia, while the closely related yellow-eye mullet's range is confined to more southerly waters.

Fishing Techniques: Many mullet species are difficult to catch, but both the sand and yellow-eye can be taken on light tackle and small hooks baited with bread, dough, peeled prawn, cockle or pipi, worm pieces or maggots. Yellow-eye mullet are the more willing biters, and will even take flesh baits, squid strips and pieces of pilchard or whitebait. Most of the successful rigs for these species incorporate a light float, such as a quill or small bobby cork, although the fish can be taken on un-weighted or very lightly weighted lines. They respond extremely well to a berley trail of soaked bread. Sea mullet are generally harder to catch, but will bite at times.

Eating Qualities: Sea mullet rate as fair to good table fish, their oily, somewhat fatty flesh being well suited to smoking, while sand mullet are arguably the tastiest of the mullet clan. All mullet should be cleaned promptly if intended for the table.  

By Steve Starling