Saltwater fish caught in Nottoway

Published 10:37 am Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wesley Anderson of Courtland caught this striped mullet in the Nottoway River. SUBMITTED

FRANKLIN—It’s unusual to catch a striped mullet — a saltwater fish — in fresh water, but what makes this story even more unusual is that Wesley Anderson caught one with a night crawler.

To add to the story, the 16-inch, 1.6-pound striped mullet caught by the Courtland man is about as big as that type of fish gets, said Bob Greenlee, a district fish biologist with Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in Charles City.

“That’s a large one,” Greenlee said. “They range up to that size.”

Anderson caught the fish near the Hercules Boat Ramp off General Thomas Highway at about 7 p.m. Sunday and couldn’t identify it.

“I didn’t have a clue,” he said. “I called someone who knew saltwater fish and Googled it. The picture matched. It has stripes down the side, a fork tail and huge eyes.”

The 24-year-old, who with his wife, Melissa, caught more than 100 catfish, red throats and blue gill on Saturday and Sunday, said it looked like the striped mullet had been feeding on red throat.

Striped mullet are found in river systems that are open estuaries like the Nottoway, which is part of the Chowan Drainage, Greenlee said.

“Species can move, and salt species can have a tolerance (for fresh water),” he said.

The striped mullet inhabits the lower tributaries of the James River and in the river up to Hopewell, Greenlee said. It’s fairly uncommon to catch a striped mullet, and even more uncommon to catch one with a night crawler. The fish are normally caught with nets.

“That’s a very unique thing that he caught that fish on a night crawler,” he said.

Anderson said the fish gave him a fight; he was using an ultra-light rod.

“It was very exciting watching its tail walking on top of the water,” he said.

Anderson grilled up his catch.

“It was OK,” he said. “I wouldn’t rave about it.”