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Lake Mac mulloway
  |  First Published: April 2014



Before the ban on commercial fishing in Lake Macquarie, a mulloway catch in the lake was quite rare. Some people even doubted they were in the lake at all.

Nowadays things are very different, and although any lake jew is one to be proud of they don’t really become brag-worthy until they are about 10kg. They fall to both bait and lures but in this article we will be concentrating on bait. It’s the most common and arguably easiest way to temp a Lake Mac jew.

Gear and Rigs

I run 2 separate outfits when fishing for lake jew. One a 20lb set-up which I usually fish with a small live or fresh squid and the other with 40lb braid which I normally use for larger fish livies and big cut baits. You’d be amazed how many times a big jew opts for the lighter set-up and you end up with a real fight on your hands.

I use 2 snelled 6/0 hooks connected by 50lb leader to a swivel, then an Ezy rig which slides up and down the line. I only use enough lead to keep my bait on the bottom and it usually varies depending on size of bait and current.

Top Baits

I have found some weird things in jewfish’s stomachs at times. They will have a go at anything, from bream to leatherjacket, but if you want to stand a real chance of catching a Lake Mac jew I would stick to the following baits.

Squid

Squid are without a doubt the number one Lake jew bait. Live is best but mulloway will still smash cut and fresh dead baits. Just remember that they have to be fresh – either catch them yourself or buy them from a reliable source. It amazes me the amount of people who sit out all night with a freezer-burnt servo squid and wonder why they don’t catch anything! Fresh bait is just as essential as putting the boat in the water.

Slimy mackerel

Slimies come into the Lake at different times of the year but are most common around summer/autumn. They are best fished live but a butterflied or filleted slimy is a close second.

When you’re fishing cut baits the bream pickers can sometimes drive you mad, but if the mulloway turn up the pickers will usually go.

Yellowtail (yakka)

These fish are a close second to slimies and are best fished using the same methods. Just remember that, due to the spines on these fish, jew have to swallow them head first. As far as a jew is concerned, a big yakka can seem like too much of a chore, so the smaller the better.

Other great baits such as poddy mullet, pike and striped trumpeter can work great at times too.

Best Times

While mulloway can be caught year round in the lake, I have found summer and autumn, when the water is at its warmest, to be the best time of the year. They are caught in daylight hours at times but they are far more active at lowlight periods and into the night.

The tide is extremely important to mulloway fishing, even in Lake Macquarie where there is very little tidal movement. Willyweather.com.au is a great site I use which gives the tides for within the Lake, and it is amazing how many times I will sit out all night but right on the forecast high tide my rod will scream off.

If you can’t get to Willyweather, as a general rule the lake’s tide is about 2-3 hours after the channel. I like to fish about 2 hours either side of the forecast tide and usually get a good bycatch of bream and flathead while waiting.

Berley is not a necessity but I still believe it is very important. It is great just to attract action around the boat from baitfish, flathead and bream, and can provide some lighter entertainment while you wait for the mulloway to show up.

Areas

I know a lot of people reading this article would love for me to list GPS locations for jew hotspots, but if I did that I would have to immediately go into witness protection. What I can tell you is what you should look for in a jew spot, and describe general areas where jew are a common catch.

Steep drop-offs, underwater hills, reefy terrain and other underwater real estate in the lake such as sunken barges and dumped materials are all great things to look for when sussing out a jew spot. For those fortunate enough to own a boat a depth sounder is a necessity, not so much to find the jew but to find the terrain they live in.

Finding bait is also key to finding mulloway. If you can see some baitfish balled up or skittering around the surface there is a fair chance there is something bigger underneath.

Another jew technique for the lake is to fish under tailor schools busting on the surface. The jew will sit under the school and most of the problem is getting a bait or lure past the tailor.

UPS AND DOWNS

When jew fishing, I catch more big bream and flathead than those trips when I specifically target them. The size most of the time is up as well, and lizards around the 70cm size are not uncommon.

However, not every trip turns up fish, jew or otherwise. Even when taking all of the above into account, expecting a jew every trip will leave you very disappointed. She simple equation really is ‘time on the water = fish’. That might mean spending many cold, rainy nights bobbing around on the water, but when that big silver shine pops up on the surface it is worth it.

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