Can You Freeze Mullet For Bait? Follow These Tips!

Few baits are as effective as fresh live finger mullet or cobb mullet for large predatory fish.

But let’s face it, sometimes getting live bait is more challenging than we like to admit…

So can you freeze mullet for bait to use at another time?

Mullet are great bait, whether they are live, freshly dead, or frozen. The key to having a good day fishing with frozen mullet is to properly prepare them so that they are still fresh and have not gotten soft or rancid.

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Is Frozen Mullet Good Bait?

Generally speaking, live bait is better than dead bait, and freshly dead is better than old and frozen.

However, you may find that frozen bait is your best option in many situations…let me explain:

At certain times of the year, there may not be many mullet to catch in the wild. Or, you might be limited in the time you have and may not want to spend some of it catching some finger mullet or stopping at a bait shop.

Also, if you don’t have a live well, bait pen or floating bait bucket, mullet aren’t the easiest bait to keep alive.

A bag or two of frozen mullet in a small cooler are your perfect solution in these situations. You just have to prepare them properly so that they look good and don’t get too soft and mushy.

Prepared correctly, frozen mullet is a great bait choice, especially for cut bait fishing for reef fish, or fishing along the surf.

Best Way To Freeze Mullet For Bait

While On The Water

The preparation of mullet starts right when you catch them.

To keep your bait mullet fresh and firm you want to avoid any decay before you get them bagged and to the freezer.

Can You Freeze Mullet For Bait? Follow These Tips!

One way to do this is to throw them in a cooler full of ice. This isn’t bad, but there’s a better way.

Take your cooler and put an inch or so of salt on the bottom. Some people swear by kosher salt because it has no impurities, but any salt that doesn’t have additives should do. After you’ve put in the salt, fill the cooler completely with ice and add water. You are trying for a slushy consistency.

What this does is create an extremely cold slurry. Because of the chemical action of the salt on the ice, this slurry gets much colder than just plain ice and water would.

It’s actually painful to put your hand in the mix because it’s so cold!

As you get your bait mullet, toss them in this mix. The mix will flash-freeze them in a matter of minutes.

When you get home and take them out, they’ll already be frozen solid with no chance for any decomposition! Also, the salt will already be in their tissues and this will help keep them fresh once they’re frozen.

It’s the same reason why local fish markets use salt to keep their fish fresh for customers!

Once You Get Home

When you get your mullet home, pull them out of the slurry (being careful of your cold hands), give them a quick rinse, and set them out on something absorbent.

You can dry them on paper or cloth towels, but a great option is the pads that are sold for house training puppies.

Pat them dry with a paper towel and put them in your storage bag. You want as little water as possible because too much ice can damage the mullet’s tissues and make it soft when it thaws out.

Make this drying process fast, because you are still trying to avoid any chance of decay.

If you have a vacuum sealer, this is your best option. Make sure they are dry, put them in the vacuum bag, and seal them up. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, you can still get the job done.

Use a Ziploc style bag and put the mullet in the bag and get all the air out of. One good way is to zip the bag almost completely, then submerge it in water with just the top sticking out. The pressure of the water will force most of the air out and you can close the bag.

Voila, homemade vacuum sealer!

The bags should now go directly in the freezer until the next time you’re ready to fish!

How To Keep Frozen Mullet Fresh

If you haven’t let them start to decay and have frozen them properly, your mullet will stay fresh in the freezer for months, even up to a year.

A Mangrove Snapper caught on frozen mullet

Since you’ve flash-frozen them, the decay process never starts and the salt will help preserve them.

You can put them away in the fall and be fishing with them the next spring!

Will Frozen Mullet Fall Apart?

Mullet can be mushy when they thaw, which makes them hard to keep on a hook. However, this isn’t an issue if they’re frozen properly.

By flash-freezing them right out of the water, you’ve prevented any decay.

The salt acts as a preservative and toughens the flesh somewhat. Also, since you removed the excess water, there will be minimal tissue damage from ice crystals.

When you let the bait thaw, you should open the bag slightly to release pressure. The pressure changes caused by thawing can damage your bait if it stays in the vacuum of a sealed bag.


If I am specifically fishing for bottom fish, such as redfish, black drum, snapper or sharks…I almost always use frozen mullet.

Many bait shops sell frozen mullet, and anytime I have extra leftovers from a day of fishing I follow the tips in this article to freeze them for the next time I go fishing.

It really does make a difference! Tight lines and good luck!

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