What's The Mullet Run?

Updated on September 7, 2022

To the uninformed, the mullet run sounds like a race full of people rocking unconventional haircuts, which in retrospect, isn’t too far off. In this case, mullet are a saltwater bait fish that inhabits and migrates along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts from the end of August to November. Mullet live in coastal waters during the warmer months but near the end of August, they start to migrate south and eventually offshore to spawn.

Tarpon in Naples Florida

Mullet form huge schools during their annual migration which invariably kicks off some of the best fishing in the world. For saltwater anglers the mullet run is an event which brings on feverish bites from every game fish in the area. The massive schools of mullet draw in predators from redfish, mackerel, trout, bluefish, jacks, snook, and flounder to the largest apex predators like Tarpon and sharks.

Where do The Mullet Run?

Mullet are common in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico both of which see a “mullet run.” The mullet migration is kicked off by a drop in water temperature. The change causes the mullet to turn south and head for warm waters. The Florida mullet run is the most widely known as the schools of bait fish move south so do the anglers. On the Atlantic Coast, mullet pass through every beach south of Virginia.

The Florida Mullet Run

Depending on when the mullet begin their journey south, the bite at any beach along the migration could be incredible. The Florida mullet run is one of the best times to go fishing with quality chances at bucket list fish like snook and tarpon on the southern end. While timing the mullet run is crucial, structure provides some of the best places to fish. Inlets are one of the best places to find mullet and the game fish that feed on them. Inlets force the large schools of mullet through a choke point which predatory fish use to hunt. Jetties and piers are also great spots with plenty of structure and current to hold giants. The mullet spawning migration in florida takes place in October and November. Once these fish get far enough south they head offshore to spawn but the action doesn’t stop.

The Texas Mullet Run

The mullet run in Texas is less pronounced than the Florida run, but it still provides unbelievable fishing opportunities. The run generally lasts from August through December which overlaps with other bait fish like anchovies. As the mullet stage in the bays for their offshore trip, anchovies move in. When a cold front hits the mullet will pour out of the bays and inlets to go spawn while the anchovies move in to fill the void left behind. As the finger mullet move offshore, the spawning bull reds tend to follow.

Spring Mullet Run

Mullet do not spawn in the spring but they do head back to coastal waters. These springs schools of mullet can be found in Central and South Florida as well as on the South Texas coast. The mullet move along the coastal waterways from March through May. Nearshore and inshore fishing is very productive while the mullet are regrouping after their spawn.

Baits To Use During The Mullet Run

During the fall mullet run predatory fish are dialed in on these baitfish and make throwing a live mullet the obvious choice. If you locate a school of mullet, a single throw with a cast net can secure all the bait you’ll need. When fishing with live mullet, a weightless setup is great for targeting fish near the surface but attaching a weight is perfect for some of the deeper species.

Artificial lures are also effective but the shape and color pattern should closely mimic a mullet. Some of the most popular and effective lures for the mullet run are the DOA Swimming Mullet, Heddon Superspook, Rapala X-Rap, and the trusty Pencil popper. Schools of mullet frequently get pressured near the surface by large predatory fish. This generally results in mullet leaping out of the water trying to escape and makes the water look almost as if it’s boiling. Any topwater bait that creates a disturbance is bound to get smoked in the crossfire.

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