White Mullet For many, the white mullet is the definition of a "trash fish" or an undesirable gamefish. This is unfortunate since this species has always given me great sport on light tackle. The problem with most people's opinion of the white mullet arises from its habit of congregating in large schools around boat docks and marina structures where it feeds on algae. Many anglers don't realize that the white mullet is a fast and powerful swimmer capable of great acrobatics, particularly when hooked. One of my fondest memories of fishing for white mullet is the time I hooked a 33-inch female while anchored in about 3 feet of water.
The body is deep and somewhat compressed with five pairs of lateral line scales. The mouth is oblique with no teeth on the jaws or vomer. There are two separate dorsal fins, the anterior one consisting of ten spines and the posterior one having a single spine and 12 to 13 soft rays. The pectoral fin is long with 14 or 15 rays while the anal fin has three spines and nine to 10 rays. There are small scales present on the second dorsal and anal fins, both above and below. The caudal fin is slightly emarginate. The lateral line scales numbers 57 to 67 and all other fins are white in color.
The white mullet is a member of the mullet family. This species has a small gold or yellow-orange blotch behind the eye, which is partially covered by an adipose eyelid. There are scales present on the second dorsal and anal fins, and the anal fin has three spines and between nine and ten rays.
White mullets are typically caught by casting small lures or baits such as jigs, plastic-bodied crankbaits, bucktail jigs with rubber tails, live bait (grass shrimp), and fly fishing (small poppers) to them near shoreline structures such as rocks, piers, and dock pilings. They are also commonly caught by surf casters fishing the lower reaches of the beach or by boat anglers targeting them mid-channel along rocky bottoms. White mullets will occasionally strike artificial lures such as spoons and plugs but these manufactured items need to be worked very slowly to entice a white mullet to strike.
White mullets are gobbled up by almost any predatory gamefish they encounter including sharks, rays, tarpon, red drum, spotted seatrout, and flounder. White mullet will also be eaten by larger members of the same species (shoaling/schooling behavior), hence "schoolies" are an occasional bycatch for anglers targeting larger gamefish.
Habitats include inshore waters around structures such as rocks, piers, jetties, bridge pilings, and other man-made structures that offer refuge from predators. Offshore they prefer the brackish water of estuaries and bays. Juveniles usually will be found in shallow inshore waters such as sea grass beds, turtle grass flats, shorelines with oysters and marsh grasses, and mangroves.