In South Australia, every Autumn (usually starting mid March and extending until mid May), schools of Yellow-eye Mullet school on the southern ocean beaches. They are not a big fish, growing to a maximum of about 40 centimeters (about 16 inches), but they are excellent eating if eaten fresh and are prolific enough to be caught relatively easily.
Although also present along the metropolitan coast, the fish here are not as big and don't have that clean, silver look that those from the surf have. The beaches around the southern coastal town of Victor Harbor, and those at the bottom of both Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas produce the best results and the biggest fish. The extra traveling time is certainly worth the effort.
Locations to look for are popular surf beaches with well defined inshore gutters and channels, semi-protected beaches with relatively deep water in close, shallow tidal beaches with definable gutters and holes at high tide. Clean, clear water with a sandy bottom around headlands at the end of beaches can also hold schools.
Burley is essential if you would like to catch them in any numbers. The best way to distribute this to keep the fish hanging around without over feeding them is to use a burley spring above the sinker. Squeeze the burley into the spring so it sits firm. It will slowly disperse around your baits as it sits on the bottom.
The easiest and most effective rig to use is two hooks above a sinker. The hooks should be size 8 - 10. The mullet have small mouths and anything larger will result in far less hook ups. The size of the sinker will depend on the location. On the surf beaches, a one ounce sinker usually does the job. In quiet, calmer waters a half ounce would suffice.
You will find, if fishing in the surf, that the wave action will pull your line taut on the way out and then leave it slack as it comes back in. In this situation, you will nearly always feel the mullet bite as the line goes slack. They seem to respond to a moving bait and will jump on it as soon as it stops.
In the quieter waters, their bite is quite easy to feel and is a single sharp tug. During this time of the year when they are schooling they are generally not hard to hook and double headers are frequent.
When considering burley, use a brand that has tuna oil as an ingredient. You can mix your own by soaking some rabbit or chicken pellets in a bucket of water until they go soft, then add copious amounts of tuna oil. Mix it until it sticks together when you squeeze it. This will ensure it doesn't all fall out of the burley spring on the first cast.
Mullet can be fussy feeders. The best bait by far is, believe it or not, red meat. They love kangaroo meat. Good quality mince meat is good and works even better when mixed with curry powder and semolina. (The semolina helps bind the mince and keep it on the hook). Small pieces of the meat or the mince molded onto the hook work extremely well. As a back up, cockles (or pipis) are good, along with tube worms. Seaweed worms are also an excellent bait, but they are not always available.
When caught, bleed the fish and let the blood drain. Fillet them and then skin the fillets. The skin taints the flesh with a strong fishy taste. If the skin is removed however, the flesh is white and lightly flavored. Barbecued soon after capture, mullet fillets are superb eating. Only take as much as you can eat immediately. After they been frozen for even a short time, the flesh becomes soft and the strong fishy taste becomes apparent. This can be reduced by adding salt and pepper and any number of other spices, but nothing beats eating them fresh.
Mullet are an underrated fish here, but they are great fun to catch (the kids love it) and the environment in which they are caught is often spectacular and secluded. If camping or visiting South Australia's beaches in Autumn remember the fishing rod.