In these days of hi-tech lures, and all the other fishing equipment, who would think that something as simple as a mulberry could catch huge fish? That is exactly what happened when back in 2007 the "Dan’s Fish ‘N’ Tales" TV crew was invited by to fish for carp and catfish, using mulberries on Railroad Lake in West Lake Park.
The first thing is selecting the right berries to pick. There are normally four stages of color — green, red, red/purple and purple. The two best are the red/purple and purple. The red/purple will stay on the hook better because of the firmness, but the purple will milk out into the water more. Be sure to keep the berries cool. Don’t leave them in a metal can that is setting in the sun. This will cook the berries to the point of being too soft, and not holding to the hook. They will also become much messier to put on the hook, which is a problem even with firmer berries.
The technique is so simple that anyone can do it. The only thing to remember is to have heavy enough line. In fact, I had two fish break off, one of which was on 15-pound test braided line. It is suggested to use at least 20-pound test.
The hook used was a number 2 Daiichi bait hook. I would also suggest trying a Daiichi Circle Wide, which will be great for holding the bait, as well as hooking the fish much easier.
Hook the berry in the firmest and largest portion, being sure to get it as close to the center as possible, which is best for holding to the hook.
My guest rigged his berry with a hook only, and flipped to the areas desired. He then allowed the berry to slowly sink before picking it up and making another flip.
I used a hook beneath a Mick Thill float. Since these floats are extremely sensitive, and normally balanced by lightweights, the berry itself will work as a weight. This was rigged on a spinning outfit, so that I could flip, pitch, or use easy casts. Don’t whip the cast, as this will throw off the berry. The berry would slowly fall to the depth of the float’s setting, and when reached, I would pull it a few inches, allow it to fall again, and then retrieve for another cast.
In most cases the strike came shortly after the berry started to sink. With the hook only it would be a line twitch or movement. With a float it would move along the surface or quickly be pulled under.
We caught grass carp, regular carp, channel catfish and bluegill. Anything that would feed on berries will hit.
The best locations, naturally, are where mulberry trees are hanging over the water. When the trees are full of fruit, as they are at this time of the year, there is a constant chumming, which draws fish in to the area. Be sure to target the areas first where fish are seen actively feeding under the trees.
The biggest problem is the berry stain. It can get on your clothing, boat carpeting, and most of all, hands. The purple stain is a perfect indication of what an angler has been using. There is no hiding this bait. However, a good hand cleaner, and brush will remove most of it. As for the clothing, I poured a full cup of Cheer Free and Gentle detergent on the stain, and threw the shirt in with the remainder of the washing.
During the show’s taping we ran into a couple of locations where the catfish were striking on every cast. This type of activity is not uncommon when the trees are in a “full fruit” condition. In fact, a 12.3-pound grass carp on camera. Our biggest never made a television appearance, as they found a way to break the line, or straighten the hook.
If you want bait that will catch several species of fish, is easy to obtain, with no cost, can produce a “tackle busting” fish, and are simple to use — then try mulberries.
In case you don’t catch fish,, the bait can be eaten. Mulberries are good fresh, or in a pie by themselves or with rhubarb.
Because of this unique subject, and the great videography and production work by Brad Mosier, the show won first place in the 2008 AGLOW Awards in the TV Fishing category. This show can be seen on the "Dan’s Fish ‘N’ Tales" website at www.dansfishntales.com, or You Tube channel at www.youtube.com/dansfishntales.