Mulloway research at Nelson
  |  First Published: November 2008

In Nelson we are still waiting for mulloway madness to really kick in. We had a school of mulloway enter the system late in September, which got everyone’s juices flowing. While they were mainly schoolie size, there was the odd head-thrasher of 60-70cm in the mob.

The top of Taylors Strait was the spot to target them for over a week, then they moved on up towards the Cave area. When I first came to Nelson the locals told me that the schools normally arrive around the end of October. On average has been quite right, with a few exceptions like last year when they arrived a month late, and the year before a month early.

Little is known of the migration, and when and where they move to and from. Over the next few months the Arthur Rylah Institute will be researching the movement of mulloway in the Glenelg River. As this is the longest estuary in Victoria, and probably the system that gets the biggest influx of fish, it was the obvious choice for their studies.

Two hundred mulloway will be weighed and measured, then tagged and released. Of the 200, around 30 will be fitted with an internal acoustic tag before release. Along the river, acoustic receivers (listening stations) have been positioned, which will record the movement of the fish fitted with the acoustic tags. The researchers have also put in salinity and temperature probes at different points along the river, so they can work out the type of water the fish are schooling into. With luck the listening stations already in place along the coast for the study of shark movement will also pick up the acoustically fitted mulloway.

If you catch a tagged fish, take note of the unique identification number on the tag. Record the fish length, date and location of capture. Phone the contact number located on the tag to report details and receive a reward. It is preferred that you release the fish but not mandatory. If you do keep a tagged fish for the table, they would like you to keep the head and, if possible, all the internal organs, then freeze them. Phone the Institute with an accurate length, date and location of capture, and a pick-up will be arranged.

If you keep a fish with an acoustic tag we have the address at the Pub to send the acoustic tag back to. If by chance you hook onto the acoustic receivers and salinity probes, please be gentle and return them the spot you pulled them from. For further information, contact the Arthur Rylah Institute on 03 9450 8600.

I have not one scientific bone in my body but I, along with a few of the locals, will become part of the research team assigned the hard task of catching the fish that we scientific types now call Argyrosomus japonicus (mulloway) for the study. It’s a tough gig but we will battle on.

The best bream fishing is now below Sapling Creek. There has been heaps caught from Hutchessons Landing down to Dry Creek. The bream seem to get blisters in the their mouths at spawning time so softer baits get the chocolates more than the popular black river crab. Try spew worms or scrubworms, or even rabbit flesh.

There have been good reports of estuary perch from Hutchessons right down to Taylors Strait, with most taking the very popular SX-40 lures. Best baits are live gents or shrimps flicked in amongst structure unweighted.

Along the coast, school and gummy sharks have increased in numbers from Piccaninnie Ponds through to Hutt Bay. Good-sized snapper have been caught off Green and Danger points, remembering there is a closed season on snapper there during the month of November.

Garfish have been the number one target in the sheltered bays dotted along the coast. Gerloff, Hutt and Cape Douglas bays are the spots to target with a good supply of live gents. There are also whiting in the same bays.

Any one wanting news or to book accommodation can call us on 08 8738 4011. I have also started a contact list for a brief fishing report that I will try and mail out when there is something worth sharing. Email me on --e-mail address hidden--


There has been at least one run of school mulloway in the Glenelg, but real mulloway madness is yet to take hold (photo: Mark Gercovich).


The best bream fishing in the Glenelg is now below Sapling Creek. This one took an Ecogear SX-40 hardbodied lure (photo: Brent Hodges).

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