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.