Most people think of those spooky mullet that like to hang around marinas and piers, but have you ever gone walkabout up estuaries and creeks, fished unpleasant sewer pipes, or even been lucky enough to have fished the Channel Island of Alderney in the depths of winter?

I am getting the impression more and more so that whilst mullet used to be some sort of a cult fish, targeted by the few, and actually hooked by even fewer, now more and more anglers are becoming switched on to the fantastic fishing that these grey ghosts have to offer. So much of our UK shore fishing is done at night during horrendous conditions and I am the first to admit that I love this, but mullet are a species that can be seen, caught in good weather, and fished for successfully during the day. I havenít got the space to go into night fishing for them, and indeed I have heard some people say that they do not feed at night, but let me assure you that night time mulleting is another whole fantastic ballgame.

Too much of what I hear and read about mullet fishing is this static image of sitting on some pontoon or estuary bank with a bucket full of smelly groundbait and a 13í match rod; I would strongly advise that to be successful you must banish this image forever. Things are most definitely changing and I really believe that mullet fishing will just become more and more popular; it makes such a dramatic change from standard shore fishing and can appeal to anglers from the sea, coarse and game world.

You would think that match and carp rods are ideally suited to the world of mullet, but I know no successful mullet anglers who use them. Versatility is the key, because you may well be floatfishing, ledgering and surface fishing all at the same mark and with the same rod; I have found no better rod than the Daiwa Porky Pig 12í 1-4oz feeder rod together with a quality fixed spool reel. A smooth drag is absolutely essential, for these fish like to run hard and run fast.

We have hundreds of mullet marks in the South West, whether the be on the open coast or up rivers/estuaries such as the Dart, Kingsbridge, Erme, Avon, Yealm, Fowey, Camel, Fal, Helford, Taw/Torridge, Teign, Plym, Tamar, and the Exe. Everybody has their own favourite and secret locations, but if think a little and open your eyes, then good shoals of mullet are not hard to find. They do love creeks where the sun warms the mud up before the tide floods over it; these are often by virtue the quietest places where you will see nobody except for the resident bird life and shoals of mullet.

If you are new to this game, then you must purchase a pair of polarised sunglasses; they need not be expensive, but they are essential. They serve to cut the glare off the water and enable you to see more clearly down into the water; when you are looking, look in places that seem almost stupid, for I assure you that mullet can turn up almost anywhere and at anytime. The great thing about this type of fishing is that there are no hard and fast rules; think on your feet and you will find success. There is no need to blast some amazing three hooked clipped down techno-rig 200 yards plus on a crowded beach, or heave 3lbs of lead down into a deep water wreck; subtlety is the key.

You will come across anglers who like to sit in one spot and gently introduce morsels of secret groundbait into one particular spot; this will work sometimes, but it is pointless to stay in one spot all the time, especially if you can see fish on the move. That is what is so exciting, the visual side of this game, so follow the fish if you can. By learning more and more you will come to work out where mullet like to be at certain stages of the tide. I fish one river where we generally surface feed floating bread at one mark on low water, move to another mark and ledger at half tide up, and then you can go to another spot for the ebb tide, or even stick it out for the whole tide at another spot! You will generally see fish, but they do not always prove hookable!!

Travel light; I carry my gear in a simple bum bag. In it go some Drennan Boilie hooks in sizes 10 and 8, bubble floats, Buldo floats, self-cocking grayling floats, 3-way and normal swivels, light _-1oz weights and some trace line (6-8lb, dark brown coloured; mullet do not like clear/white line). I like 8lb mainline, but maybe I will go to 10lb in areas of rocky bottom or heavy weed; braid is exciting to fish with, but wait until you have some experience, for you will lose lots of fish otherwise. I can not really tell you actually how to fish, for you will have to gauge how the mullet are actually feeding at the time of fishing, if indeed they are feeding at all!!

You will probably notice the lack of stick floats and split shot that can take an age to set up and this is for the very reason that speed is often vital. Be quick to adapt to conditions and to how the mullet are taking baits; one moment you may be ledgering a bit of bread off a 3-way swivel on the bottom and the next minute you will find some big fish taking bread off the surface right in front of you. Success will now depend on how quickly you can capitalise on the change of methods; just remember to keep things simple. For groundbait, simply break up pieces of sliced white bread so that they either sink or float; donít bother with heavy buckets of magical concoctions.

As for mullet seasons, it just depends on where you fish or live; no more are mullet anglers bound by the warmer months. I was out fishing for mullet at the end of January this year in an estuary not twenty miles from Plymouth and there were some very big, possibly 8lb plus fish around; the most difficult thing was keeping warm and remaining mobile in the still but freezing conditions! I had one memorable session at a secluded, very unknown creek at the end of March where we quickly landed six mullet to 5lb in the space of half an hour. Most people would never think of fishing where we were and I am positive that no more than a handful of anglers ever fish there; I am obviously not going to reveal its whereabouts, but there must be loads of places like it throughout the country.

Mullet generally fight like creatures possessed and think of a 5lb fish as being a good specimen, worthy of anybodyís respect, except that is, on the Channel Island of Alderney. I am going to stick my neck out and say that I truly believe that if the mullet record ever goes (currently over 14lbs), then it will be an Alderney fish that will break it. I and many others have seen fish over there that would easily take the record, but they are not there all the time. It is a magical place, truly a dream for the roving angler; outsize black bream, sole, conger, plaice, wrasse, undulate rays, tope, pollack and mullet reside within casting distance of the shore. The best months for big mullet are November to the end of February, during those hard winter months when you are gambling with the weather and hoping for a settled spell. Step up your mullet gear a fraction to maybe 10lb line straight through and head for the south side of the island; three hours either side of high water is generally preferred at a lot of the marks. Bits of lamb, pork, bacon and beef all catch mullet, but I still reckon bread to be the best bait, whether fished below a bubble float so that it sinks or floats, or hard on the bottom. I do not like to groundbait hard with local "shurvy" mixes as some do, for I think it attracts too many garfish and bream, but maybe you want that! You are usually fishing into big shoals of fish that are easily visible when wearing polaroids; more often than not you will see 10lb plus fish in amongst them, but they are not easy to catch. Bear in mind though that a 6lb plus mullet raises hardly an eyebrow in the pub. Alderney is that kind of place!