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Incredible mullet. Running by the ton

August 6, 2016

mullet 2

By Mic Smith

The mullet fishermen at Kirra can get 30 tonnes of mullet in one good shot, but this year’s mullet run has been relatively quiet thanks to the June rains.

The fresh water flooding out of Tweed and other rivers sent many of the mullet too deep for the Kirra mullet fishermen’s nets.

Instead of heading along the beaches like usual during the winter spawning season a fair part of the annual of mullet run made a b-line across the ocean to North Straddie.

Good news for the Perry family waiting for the mullet run on the North Straddie beaches with their nets, utes and boats.

Ben Markwell, who owns the mullet fishing license between Kirra and Southport, never takes his eyes off the ocean. The season isn’t quite over yet so he scans for mullet in the waves, watching for the tell tale signs of jumping fish and the dark shadows of a shoal among the Kirra surfers.

ben markwell

Like the Perrys on North Stradbroke, the Markwell’s fishing tradition goes back generations alongside their rivals the other big Gold Coast fishing family, the Boyd brothers.

Ben says the mullet run is a very sustainable commercial operation.

  • Even though they can net between 300kg and 30 tonnes in one shot they are only catching less than 1 percent of the fish
  • They follow the mullet closely then run the nets really tight around the shoals so they get very little by-catch.
  • All the fish they catch are big at least three years old because the mullet stay upstream until that age.

During the season Ben watches the ocean at Kirra from dawn to dusk. The fish come out of the rivers and most years will run up the beaches to North Stradbroke Island and beyond before they head out to sea.They spawn out at sea for about week and return to the rivers they left from, along the bottom. So there’s no mullet run on the return migration.

mullet 1

He says sometimes the dolphins cooperate and sometimes they don’t.

“The mullet might head out to sea and the dolphins will bring them back. Or we might just be getting the nets around them close to shore and the dolphins will herd them out to sea. You never know.”

He says sea eagles sometimes sit on every light pole on the road around Kirra Point when there is a feast of fish to have.

And there’s no problem with sharks on the point when the mullet are running.

“There’s too much going on for them. There might be more of a problem on the open beaches.”





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