• Rob Baker

Barn Swallows shaped like mullet

If you've ever seen "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation" with Jimmy Stewart and Maureen O'Hara, you'll remember the bird watching scene with Jimmy's son-in-law's boss-to-be. The boss-to-be sees lots of exotic species, and Jimmy keeps finding the same old bland "barn swallows."

Well that is the theme of this post, but my version of a barn swallow is mullet.

I decided to try some new areas kayaking out of my usual launch point inside of the Canaveral National Seashore in Volusia County. I headed over to Orange Island, and started fishing as I was paddling "upstream" into this little channel. Water was flowing out as if in response to an ebbing tide but you never know in Mosquito Lagoon where there is always a significant lag in tidal response relative to the main inlet. Mullet were jumping and acting spooked. I decided to beach my kayak and fish toward an area where I saw a LOT of good sized fish. The water was brown and murky enough that I could not tell for sure what fish were in the water. A couple of times the school would become very energetic, and on one occasion I was sure I saw a flash of red, but I couldn't tell anything for certain. I fished with every ounce of my skill for about 2 hours. These fish would swim around my lures in a very annoyed fashion. No strikes at all.

Orange Island in Mosquito Lagoon

In the end my quarry at Orange Island turned out to be just mullet. I floated my GoPro downstream to see if I could get some images. You be the judge.

My next trip ended up re-routed over to the Oak Hill side of the lagoon because the national park was closed due to the shutdown. I made a little circuit in and around Bissette Bay where speckled trout and possibly redfish were supposed to abound. I saw dolphins, lots of flats boats, a few kayaks, racoons, crabs and the ever present mullet. There were a few tiny little tugs on my scented Gulp shad, but no commitments that resulted in a hooked fish. I suspect the tugs were from curious mullet. A puffer did chew up one of those smelly shads that I sent deep and jigged slowly, but that was partly on purpose because I got bored and wanted to see if any of the little guys were around.

Bissette Bay near Oak Hill

The wind was strong in Bissette Bay, so I had the usual difficulty positioning myself in the best spot to fish where I could stay a bit and not be blown out of position. I decided a simple anchoring system for my kayak was overdue.

The next spot to fish was a return visit to Fort Desoto State Park in Tampa Bay. Notice that I went to a state park this time. Smart. Once again the wind was strong, and came out of the west. My favorite area along North Beach was inaccessible because of the wave action, so I launched into Mullet Key Bayou. Guess what I found there.

From the launch point I tried to find sheltered stretches of water where a predator could set up shop without working too hard against the moving surface of the water. I had a black 8-lb mushroom anchor and 25 feet of good line, with a nifty Harken cam cleat to pay out line and lock me into my desired location (all those summers in the late '80's working at Backyard Boats came to good use). The anchor system worked perfectly, and I was able to cast downwind. Better yet, my 6-inch topwater spook was getting hit, repeatedly. Hit hard. Yet even with two treble hooks there was no hookup. One or two times the hits would be associated with lots of splash and I could see fish. Thinking about it now I suspect there was a school of mullet and my spook just spooked them, but they were not trying to actually consume it. Somehow those hits avoided the hooks, so that could not have been a predator intent on a meal.

Out in the bayou open areas the pilings were the best fishing spots. White caps from the wind made things a little too interesting, even in the shallow flats there. I retreated and went home again with no catches.

I'm sticking with inshore saltwater fishing until I find something that works and I catch my first redfish. I have a plan and maybe next time I'll find more than just fishy barn swallows shaped like mullet.

#saltwaterkayakfishing #inshorefishing #fishingtactics #problems #mullet

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