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Old 08-25-2008, 09:34 AM
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Default Prey fish becoming predators?

I've found a unique situation where mullet can be caught on a fly, and written about it for a newspaper. Here's the situation: When the mullet are feeding on the floating bodies of dead mussels, the mullet attack the fly on the surface and chase the fly when submerged. The fish are fairly easy to hook because they grab the fly vigorously. These mullet travel in small groups or individually--very un-mullet like behavior.

When the mullet are no longer feeding on the mussel die-off and begin feeding on rock moss and other vegetation, the fish once again form in large schools and will just "lip" the back of a fly without taking it. I.e.: typical mullet behavior.

The question: Could feeding on protein (the mussels) change the behavior of the mullet from acting like prey fish (which they normally do) to behaving like predatory fish (which is what they become when attacking "mussel" flies.

Any thoughts or sites where I can find more on this peculiar behavior would be appreciated.
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Old 08-25-2008, 09:18 PM
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Default Re: Prey fish becoming predators?

First off think about what time of year they are feeding on what. Some fish can and do change from one type of food to another depending on such things as spawning, cold periods of the year, or when it is most available. Now I'm not 100% on Mullet, I know more about the hair cut then the fish but I'll try and make a few comments. Up here in ND I often find fish like bullheads, common carp, buffalo carp, suckers, and other fish that dont feed on fish (or at least what most think of) hitting things suck as crank baits, jigs and minnows and other "uncommon" things. In the spring up here we often get carp to hit live minnows. Carp being kinda like a mullet in that they feed off of stuffs suspended in the water. To date the only fish I know that does not feed on other fish at some point is the grass carp. But there too I'm sure will at some point. The other thing is the fact they are loners or in small groups. Schooling fish will often act differently when they split into smaller groups for such things as spawning or when they go from deep water to shallower water and such. The wildest thing I have ever seen was in MN on a lake I was fishing for Musky on. A bullhead hit a large tandem spinner bait. Talk about and ego. The other thing I would look into on the mullet is what changes between the times that they will hit and chance a fly to when they will just nudge it. Things like temp, time of year, location can and do trigger such action in some fish. Lastly try different flies. When they are feeding on the mussels what kind of fly are you using. Do they hit any type or a specific type? Later when they are not hitting flies what kind are you using there. Think about such things. Often a fish that will look at one lure will slam anther that for some reason looks better to them. Or they may shy away since if they dont like it. One question I have for you is, have you ever tried a small baitfish streamer? Something in a size8 hook thatís as big as the nail on your little finger. It may just be that they like it, but I have a hunch that they would grab it. Like I mentioned above, there are very, very few fish that wont at some point in time eat another fish or even change feeding habits to include animal protein over plant.
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Old 08-26-2008, 06:12 AM
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Default Re: Prey fish becoming predators?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrEsox View Post
When they are feeding on the mussels what kind of fly are you using. Do they hit any type or a specific type? Later when they are not hitting flies what kind are you using there. Think about such things. Often a fish that will look at one lure will slam anther that for some reason looks better to them. Or they may shy away since if they dont like it. One question I have for you is, have you ever tried a small baitfish streamer? .
The mullet, when they are feeding on mussels, only hit a fly that looks something like a dead floating mussel: large egg pattern or short, fluffy semi-zonker.

This is a very time-sensitive fishery. The water temp has to be close to 90; the sun has to be overhead to aid site fishing; dead mussels have to be floating; mullet have to have swum 130 miles upriver miles from the sea.

When we were shooting for a TV outdoor show, we were lucky and everything was in place, so we caught lots of fish and got good footage. Friends and I have been back 3 times since and have caught a total of 3 mullet.

We have tried many other fly patterns. The only ones that work are those that mimic the small cotton-ball size grey/white mussel bodies floating around.

A "mussel" fly created by NightCrawler Patterson:

Click the image to open in full size.

A mullet and the body of a dead mussel:

Click the image to open in full size.

Capt. Robbie Burr (Pee Dee Fishing Adventures - Robbie Burr, fishing guide) with a typical fly-caught mullet:

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 08-27-2008, 09:45 AM
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Default Re: Prey fish becoming predators?

Sounds to me like you're matching the hatch. In this case the hatch is dead mussels.
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