By Richard E. Noble Mullet has been a staple of life for decades here in Franklin County. Most other places it is considered a bait fish or trash fish and people cringe at the thought of eating one. But Calvin Trillin “the international gourmand of chili dogs and fried pork rinds” wrote that Franklin County, Florida is the best place in America to find smoked mullet. I think you can find this essay in Trillin’s book the Tummy Trilogy. Most people first notice mullet when they are standing on the shore looking out at the horizon. Suddenly they see some kind of fish jump out of the water and sail through the air. And then the same fish does it again and again and again. I watched one mullet jump five times in a row. Everybody’s first question when discovering mullet is - why do mullet jump? The obvious answer is because they are trying to escape something that is trying to eat them, like a Bottle Nosed Dolphin. I’ve also read that they might be jumping to get an extra gulp of oxygen. I’m sure that there are many other answers as to why mullet jump but I have always liked Marion Millender’s the best. He said that he thought mullet jumped because they were happy. Carol and I had our first exposure to mullet not in Franklin County, but in Port Isabel, Texas. We were on our Hobo-ing America adventure when we landed at Padre Island and then went down to Brownsville. There was an old bridge, similar to our Island fishing pier bridge, at Port Isabel that had been turned into a State Park and Carol and I spent some time there fishing and waiting for America to warm up. We were fishing off the rocks at the foot of this bridge when the water offshore began to churn up. There seemed to be miles of some kind of fish out there and they were coming our way. I didn’t know what they were or what they might bite. On another occasion up in New England when I was fishing off the Black Rocks at Salisbury Beach a school of pollack came through and I caught a mess of them with a Dare Devil lure. I had one in my tackle box at the bridge in Port Isabel so I rigged it up. I threw it out in the middle of the churning water but got no bites. Then I remembered techniques that I had developed snagging Salmon up in Michigan. I started jerking the Dare Devil through this school of whatever and whammo. I had a five gallon pail full in no time. People came wandering by peeking into my bucket. Most of them whispered and talked among themselves. Finally this one older fellow said, “No sense in saving those, son. Those fish are mullet. They’re a trash fish - no good for eatin’.” We had heard similar stories about various types of fish but Carol and I were not prone to throwing any variety of fish back into the water. We are “catch and eat” not “catch and release” fishermen. That night we ate fried mullet and we were hooked. For a time here in Franklin County we could catch all the mullet we wanted. We had two cast nets that Carol had constructed by hand and we had a hundred foot of gill net that Mr. Millender gave us. We would ride around inshore and roll that 100 foot off the cull board of our oyster boat or stand on the bow and sail out our cast nets. We never caught enough to sell by these methods but we had plenty to eat. Every oyster shack along 98 in Eastpoint had a smoker and a sign advertising fresh smoked mullet in those days. You could buy a whole smoked mullet for a dollar to a dollar-fifty. We loved smoked mullet, but we were too cheap to buy it. We decided to build our own smokehouse out back. We had a pile of old corrugated tin laying around and we stuck it together and built a full sized smokehouse about six foot high and three foot wide and maybe two or three foot deep. We made metal doors in the lower front section for the wood and built some racks higher up for the fish. We put some doors on the upper section also. For awhile we had all the smoked mullet that we could eat. We smoked chicken, hot dogs, beef and pork. People also like to eat the roe (mullet eggs) which presented a problem as you can imagine. I’ve since heard that you can catch mullet on a cane pole or by hook. Folks use ground worms, oat meal, chicken feed and dough balls made from wadding up some cheap store-bought white bread. We never tried it. Mullet are strange; they have a gizzard. They feed on dead plant matter and detritus - no meat. They’re vegetarians. They spawn in the Gulf and live inshore in the bay or up the river. They live in schools and periodically they come leaping out of the water - because they are happy. I like that answer. Now every time I see a happy mullet leaping out of the water, I smile and find myself a little happier also. Why not?
Books by Richard Edward Noble. Click on covers below for more info and purchasing instructions.
Classic Tragic Novel
Don't Laugh - This Could Have Been Your Life
Funny stories and some strange characters.
Monkey Dishes and Cocktail Fawks
My Harrowing days in the restaurant business. Great Read.
It's a Long Story
Long Short Fiction - Great stories!
Bloggin' Be My Life
"Bloggin' be My Life" contains a selection of some of my more popular Hobo Philosopher blogs.If you enjoy reading this blog, you should love Bloggin' Be My Life.
It's All About Love
It's All About Love is ... all about love. This is the 2nd book of poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford off Arlington. Every poem in this book comes with a prose introduction. If you enjoy poetry this is a simple choice. Have fun!
A Little Something
Traditional poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford Off Arlington with some poignant prose introductions. If you enjoy any type of poetry, you will enjoy this volume. Thanks.
Talking To Myself
This is my third book of poetry.
Bits and Pieces
The Hobo Philosopher - My first book using the Hobo Philosopher brand. Featuring a variety of writing styles and ideas. Look for the Thoughtful Hobo on the cover.
A Baker's Dozen
The Hobo Philosopher: My Second book of Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction and Short Stories. All varieties of short stories - lots of laughs!
Cat Point - and Them Dang Oyster People
Cat Point is the sequel to "The Eastpointer." Both books contain humorous tales about life in a fishing community on the Florida Panhandle. Lots of laughs.
Won 1st Place award for humor in 2007 from Florida Press Association. More wit, wisdom and humor from the yet to be world famous author, R.E. Noble
A Summer with Charlie - Lawrence
Fiction - Salisbury Beach, Lawrence, Mass. Featured in Merrimack Valley Magazine July /Aug. issue 2010
Travel, Humor, Commentary on migrant farm work and illegal immigration still very pertinent today.
"Just Hangin' Out Ma"
Thank God for the Street Corners of Lawrence, Mass. Anecdotes and humorous escapades about growing up in an industrial mill town in the 40s,50s and 60s.
This is the sequel to "Just Hangin' Out, Ma"
That Old Gang of Mine
This is # 3 in my Lawrence Hometown series. The series is about growing up in the 40's, 50's and 60's in an industrial mill town. Sorta like a Huck Finn goes to vist Uncle Ralph, the bus driver, who lives in a big, rundown city. Lots of fun.
Come On-A My House
This is # 4 in my Lawrence Hometown series.The old homested at 32 Chelmsford ST is pictured on the cover..
Down By The Old Mill Stream
# 5 in the Lawrence My Hometown series.
Standing on the Corner is # 6 in the lawrence My Hometown series.
The old Howard Playstead on Lawrence St.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
# 7 in the Lawrence my Hometown series.
Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
Classic tragic novel written from child's perspective. Deals with abuse, poverty, unemployment. Pulls no punches.
Noble Notes on Famous Folks
Humorous, satirical notes on everybody from Constantine to Bill Clinton. Inspiration: Willy Cuppy.
America on Strike
History - documented survey of labor strikes in America
Mein Kampf - An Analysis of Book One
Who are the American Nazis - the Liberals or the Conservatives?
MY NAME IS RICHARD EDWARD NOBLE. I AM A FREELANCE WRITER AND I HAVE PUBLISHED 12 BOOKS:"THE EASTPOINTER" - SELECTIONS FROM AWARD WINNING NEWSPAPER COLUMN - "A LITTLE SOMETHING" - POETRY WITH PROSE -"HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER" - A NOVEL ABOUT GROWING UP IN THE NEW ENGLAND MILL TOWN OF LAWRENCE, MASS, "HOBO-ING AMERICA" - A WORKINGMAN'S TOUR OF THE U.S.A. - "A SUMMER WITH CHARLIE" - THE STORY OF A YOUNG SAILOR'S LAST DAYS AT SALISBURY BEACH, "NOBLE NOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS" - HUMOROUS ANECDOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS IN HISTORY,
"AMERICA ON STRIKE" HISTORY BOOK - A SURVEY OF LABOR STRIKES IN AMERICA; "A BAKER'S DOZEN" A BOOK OF HUMOROUS SHORT STORIES; "JUST HANGIN' OUT, MA" - GROWING UP IN THE 40'S, 50'S AND 60'S IN LAWRENCE, MY HOMETOWN, "TENEMENT DWELLERS" - SEQUEL TO JUST HANGIN OUT, MA; MEIN KAMPF - ANALYSIS OF BOOK ONE - HISTORY. CAT POINT - AND THEM DANG OYSTER PEOPLE - SEQUEL TO THE EASTPOINTER
All 12 BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM, BARNES AND NOBLE AND OTHER INTERNET SOURCES OR FROM NOBLE PUBLISHING. ALL 12 OF MY BOOKS ARE NOW ON KINDLE AT BARGAIN PRICES TOO. IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DISCOUNTS AND SPECIAL OFFERS E-MAIL ME. MY EMAIL IS ON MY PROFILE PAGE.