by John Skinner
Northeast winds 15 to 20 knots, gusts to 25. Temperatures dropping to about 50 degrees. That was the forecast as I wrote this on September 8. One word should come to the mind of every surfcaster looking at that data – mullet. It's about a week early for a major blast, but I'll be very surprised if I go to the beach in the morning and don't see some making their tell-tale "V" wakes on the surface of the ocean. Ten years ago, probably even five, I'd be quite confident that there would be at least some bass on them. Probably not a total blitz scene yet, but I could expect some action. I'm not expecting much tomorrow. I'll nevertheless have a token line-up of plugs proven on past mullet runs: a blue 1.5-ounce Super Strike popper, a blue 1-ounce Gibbs Danny metal-lipped swimmer, a blue 6-inch Bomber, a blue Gibbs pencil popper. As expected when targeting a mullet run, blue is heavily favored. I'm not going to weigh the bag down with stuff. Should I be pleasantly surprised, these plugs will collectively do plenty of damage. I'll use my 9-footer because it's a little better suited to working plugs close to the shore where mullet-fueled hits often occur. I'm secretly hoping there will be some bluefish around just so I can go through the motions and bend the rod a bit.
I'm usually not so pessimistic, but that's because I'm usually doing structure oriented fishing on the night tides, and most of those efforts are fruitful. Still, I know there's no way I'll be able to sleep past first light tomorrow morning with the sound of the leaves rustling and a cool breeze blowing through the bedroom window without my brain telling me I need to be on the beach. So I'll go. When I fail to catch any bass of significance, I'll blame it on the calendar, use the excuse that it's still a week early, and go through the whole thing again on the next cold front.
My pessimism comes from a string of years with little or no mullet-induced action. When it happens, it's localized or short in duration. Another thing that has me feeling a little extra pessimism is this summer's lack of good striper boat reports from the eastern inlets. No matter how you feel about people posting reports, it's undeniable that they give some feel for what's going on. Even if no surfcasters are reporting, you can bet that the charters will be quick to advertise their successes in a timely fashion because it's good for business. The only bass being reported out of the inlets the past six weeks ago are a handful of keeperish fish on live baits. Somehow I'm not expecting that bass are suddenly going to materialize on the beaches because there's some mullet swimming around.
If you're reading this on Tuesday or later we'll already know if the wind that I can hear accelerating while I'm typing this will ignite some beach action. I'm hoping my pessimism was off-base and I sounded clueless.