In the southeast, and in particular, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina offer excellent inshore and offshore fishing for a wide variety of species. When it comes to choosing bait in the salt environment, anglers have difficulty choosing between shrimp and mullet. Each is widely used, but which live bait is most effective for catching fish, shrimp or mullet?

What Is The Difference Between A Shrimp And A Mullet

Both a mullet and a shrimp are distinctly different. Shrimp belong to the crustacean family, and mullet belong to the fish family. 

Each has a unique appearance; however, they are both a  top food source for hungry predators which lurk inshore and offshore. 

How Do Anglers Buy Shrimp Or Mullet

Live bait shops in the southeastern states are likely to stock live shrimp and mullet in their aerator tanks. In addition to purchasing shrimp and mullet live, the bait is also available frozen at a significantly lower cost. Keep in mind that when purchasing live fish or shrimp, a bait bucket and air pump are necessary to keep them alive. 

However, avoid coming out of pocket to purchase shrimp or mullet for your next fishing trip. A low-cost cast net in combination with a boat or portable livewell is all that is required. 


Mullets come in varying sizes ranges from finger-sized mullets called finger mullets to massive fish that appear to be large enough to eat for dinner. The finger-sized baits are most suitable for inshore fishing waters. 

Keep a sharp eye out for a school of fish swimming in a compact group along the surface of the water. A single throw of the cast net can yield a bucket full of live bait at zero cost. 

However, when live mullet are not available consider purchasing frozen mullet. Buy frozen mullet from local bait shops and use them whole or cut into chunks and placed on the hook. Mullet bait is highly effective both live and dead but we recommend live. We highly recommend fishing live mullet vs. frozen mullet.


Shrimp are a bit more tricky because they are not visually seen in groups. Throw the net near muddy banks at low tide. Low tide is far more effective for bucketing bait for a day of fishing. However, a single throw can be surprising but don’t become discouraged if repeated attempts are required. 

Does Mullet Or Shrimp Stay On The Hook Better

When it comes to live bait, both mullet and shrimp hold on the hook equally when the bait is placed correctly on the point. It is important to know how to hook a mullet for bait. When fishing with live mullet, the hook should be run through the lips or back. With this hook positioning, the mullet is capable of maintaining a natural swimming motion.

Alternatively when fishing with live shrimp run the hook beneath the rostrum of a shrimp with the hooks point running from one side of the shrimp to the opposite. 

Frozen shrimp and mullet are an entirely different story. Shrimp that has been frozen become mushy and are easily picked clean from the hook. Mullet remains firm for more substantial holding power and a less likely chance of being robbed without noticing a bite. 

Are Shrimp Or Mullet More Common In The Southeast

Fortunately, both the shrimp and the mullet are equally as prevalent in the southeastern United States. During the winter months, each becomes more scarce with the lower water temperatures. 

In the fall, the populations decline before becoming nearly non-existent during the winter. As the water temperature warms in the spring, the mullet and the brown shrimp slowly reappear. During the summer, anglers have no issues locating either shrimp or mullet. 

What Kind Of Fish Do Mullet And Shrimp Catch

Shrimp and mullet are effective for both inshore and offshore fishing. Here are the species that most frequently bite each of the two live bait. 

Mullet For Inshore And Offshore Fish

When it comes to offshore fishing, mullet for bait is highly effective to catch both bottom fish and blue water species. The offshore species include wahoo, dolphin, tuna, sailfish, snapper, grouper, sharks, and more. 

Using mullet for bait by inshore anglers is effective for catching redfish, flounder, and sea trout. Live mullet fish bait is fished under a popping cork. When in a pinch to locate live bait place frozen mullet bait on the hook beneath the popping cork.

Shrimp For Inshore And Offshore Fish

Although shrimp is effective for catching fish offshore, it is not as common to drop a live shrimp to the bottom as a live mullet. However, sheepshead, shark,  and snapper will all aggressively bite live shrimp.

Much like mullet, shrimp-fished inshore is equally effective for sea trout, flounder, and redfish. 

Which Bait Will You Try On Your Next Saltwater Fishing Outing

Fortunately, anglers utilizing a cast net for live bait catch mullet and shrimp in a single throw; therefore, you can see what catches you more fish. The majority of live bait shops will stock shrimp compared to mullet because drag nets thousands of live shrimp in a matter of hours. It is important to know how to fish with mullet and shrimp before casting a line. Remember to place the hook properly in the shrimp or mullet. No matter which you use, predator fish will strike the baits when they are lurking in the vicinity.