Don't really notice them in the harbour in Winter, not that I look. This mild winter may have kept them there.
Obviously i have seen them in the harbour during the summer but i have not taken any notice during the winter. The question i ask is do they move from the harbour during the winter? If they do then i would say that there is a good turn around with the smaller ones replacing those that are taken. Or are the habour ones resident? Did you see the famous dolphin when that was in the harbour, was it there for the mullet? Sorry for the amount of questions, cheers.
There have always been big catches off Portland during winter when they 'rudd' up(collect together).
The nets might only be used half-a-dozen times a year.
The spotters usually got a share of the catch and would be out every suitable night with torches on the cliff-tops, looking for 'a million candles shining in the water'!
I don't know of total catches, it's always been surrounded in secrecy, but there has been a lot of bad blood over the years connected with 'Mullet Wars'. One of the cranes was smashed up over mullet!
I would suspect that around 5 tons of mullet a winter would be a low estimate, and there's still plenty around.
The Fleet would have probably yielded several tons per summer, and there's still plenty around.