What Does Mullet Eat? Things that You Need to Know as an Angler

If you are an angler like me, you may have asked yourself: What does mullet eat? That is acceptable since I asked that question myself as well. Moreover, the mullet is famous for being energetic and known to have acrobatic leaps out of the water’s surface. 

Also, mullet are surprisingly ‘bottom feeders’, occupying saltwater and freshwater habitats. There are almost 80 species found worldwide residing in both temperate and warmer tropical seas, marshlands, rivers, and creeks. 

Distinctive Features

As a ray-finned fish, mullet are notably most active feeders in the daytime, particularly on a rising tide where algae are easily accessible.

Thicklip grey mullet (Chelon labrosus).

With thick torpedo-shaped bodies, round heads and triangularly shaped mouths, they primarily prefer to dwell closer to the murky shoreline and sandy mud floors of estuaries and river mouths in schools where there is a quick escape from predators and a sufficient supply of renewable vegetation.

Mullet reportedly have a lifespan of 4-16 years in the wild and a weighty maximum mass of up to 8kg, making them a popular target for accomplished anglers willing and patient enough to tackle their feistiness. Pound for pound they are one of the hardest, boisterous fighting fish!

As adept and agile fighters, this is perhaps one of their most enticing attractions for fishermen who enjoy the arm-aching task of the ultimate classic hook, battle, and chase. This aggressive and athletic swimmer provides a considerable challenge for even the most skillful angler!

What Does Mullet Eat?

Nature’s Menu

Mullet have a notorious yet somewhat unappealing reputation as omnivorous scavengers in their wild environment. Although they generally hunt around inshore they can be found at depth levels ranging from 0-120 meters.

The wide variety of locations of mullet, differing water temperatures, and seasonal changes affect their dietary adaptations but usually, these creatures are found in areas with plenty of loose algae, larvae or other treats lurking around inland coves and bays.

Food Sources for Mullet 

Plant Sources

Filamentous green algae, more ordinarily referred to as ‘pond scum’ can be found floating freely above and beneath the surface and serve as a plentiful food source.

Mullet utilize their spade-like jaws to scrape off the nutritious particles attached to rocks and underwater debris. They typically prefer the finer particles of microalgae or sea lettuce but are normally not fussy eaters.

The decomposed organic material, known as detritus, derived from plants and animals gradually gathers on the seabed where mullet can forage and dine contentedly using their gill rakers and close-set rows of teeth.

Meat Sources

Mullet frequently congregate together around fishing ports or alongside shipping vessels where scraps of meat or other discarded edible morsels may be tossed into the water providing an easy meal for the hungry masses.

Harbours are a particularly perfect gathering place at dawn when the morning catch arrives at the docks for unloading, resulting in a giant feeding frenzy.

Mullet are the only fish with gizzards, a specialized organ in their digestive tract which is also found in crocodiles, chickens, and ducks, exclusively used to grind up plants and other food matter.

Culinary experts recommend that mullet captured for consumption should be caught from cleaner expanses or commercially harvested in farms as they are unfortunately prone to absorbing the flavor of their surroundings, rendering them inedible if caught from polluted waters.

Mullet Bait

It is vital to thoroughly consider the mullet’s natural environment and common diet before attempting to lure them with alternative baits.

Proficient mullet fishers suggest various techniques and baits such as maggots, larvae, small insects and mealworms which are closest to mimicking their familiar diet and can provide a useful alternative to the decomposed creatures or algae sediments that they would usually suck up from the muddy seafloor.

Utilizing simple soft textured foods found in any household kitchen such as pieces of sausage, white bread or cheese are useful baits on a light line and hook. Mullet will happily mouth on any refrigerator leftovers providing they are small enough to fit in between their thick lips.

Fresh bread is distinctly appealing and large groups of adult mullet hoard together to gorge their infamous appetites.

Chumming the water is an age-old technique which can profitably exploit the mullet’s greedy disposition and unknowingly trains the fish over several days to gather and feed in a particular location.

Sprinkling tiny pieces of ‘chum’, such as cat food, oats or even chicken mash mixed with water into the fishing area will conveniently groom the fish.

Using a small mesh bag submerged in the water containing bulk solids of chum allows smaller portions to progressively filter through the sides so that eager fish can be efficiently enticed. 

Although ground baiting is the basic technique for attracting mullet from a distance, it is important to not overfill their stomachs so they are still interested to grab the hook bait.

A simple balance of tasty chum with an equally appealing hook bait such as heavily scented mackerel or other DIY homemade recipe combinations, improves the likelihood of a more successful catch.

Additional Food Sources for Mullet 

Artificial Feeding and Farming

Grey mullet have been farmed in ponds, reservoirs, and enclosures as food for human consumption and bait for centuries.

Egypt, the Mediterranean, and some southeast Asian countries continue practicing traditional feeding customs while others are experimenting with newer trial farming methods and manufactured feeds.

In aquaculture ponds, chicken manure or cow dung fertilizers are part of the mullet feeding procedure, supplemented with rice, cornmeal, wheat bran or other by-products of cereal grains to reproduce natural food sources.

In polyculture where mullet are raised among other species such as carp or tilapia, manufactured fish food or chicken pellets are popular substitute feeds. Cereal-based feeds are commonly used at the beginning of the growing season and protein-rich feeds are added later for more fruitful breeding.


Most anglers have their personal recommendations and tales of infuriating mullet fishing attempts and just like me, I want to share to you this information, specially on What Does Mullet Eat.

Studying their feeding preferences, behavior and eating rhythm will help even a seasoned veteran land that much awaited ‘whopper’ accompanied with a satisfied selfie as proof of the final victory! 

If you have some additional things that you would want to share, please feel free to leave a comment below. 

John Morris

Hi, I’m John Morris. I’m an avid outdoorsman and fisherman, blessed with an awesome wife and 2 kids. Fishing is not my passion, it is my lifestyle. I fished before I knew how to walk! I’m obsessed with all things related to fishing, even the fishy smell. I’m always willing to extend a hand to novice anglers looking for fishing tips and tricks thus I created this blog. This blog is a collection of my experiences, knowledge, and also research from other blogs.

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