Catch and release huge mulloway this season
  |  First Published: June 2016

The good run of fishing has continued with the action set to maintain right through winter. Forget about packing away the fishing gear and get out for some laidback hours of fishing between 8am-4pm and enjoy some sensational winter weather and great fishing.

Lighter line and leader coupled with a slower approach when retrieving lures is the key to getting bites in the dropping water temperatures. Small vibes and blades can be a great asset with the ability to sink a small offering deep where the conditions seem to be more comfortable for most species in the estuaries. Adding scent to unscented baits or using heavily scented lures like Gulps could also be beneficial on the slower days.

Big winter bream are schooled up along the rock walls and deeper reefs like Bar Point and Flint and Steel. Coincide your efforts around the tide change with lures or baits and fish no heavier than 10lb with fluoro leader and you should get some good results.

There’s been a great start to the hairtail season in Broken Bay and Cowan Creek. It seems the season is getting a little earlier each year, and the better fish tend to be present at the very beginning of their run inshore. Suspending pilchard baits or small live yakkas at different depths beneath your boat or under a bobby cork is the best method to get a feed and a picture with one of these deep-water specimens. Wire isn’t necessary and will get you far fewer bites than running a 20lb leader with a set of ganged hooks. Be on the ball and set hooks to alleviate your bait from being swallowed deep and ensure a mouth hook-up, hence no bite off.

Flathead will start to slow down a little, but a feed will still be achievable. I tend to find them sitting at the base of the rock walls when I target bream and mulloway. The last few seasons have seen most flatties hit our lures close to the boat, so whether they sit further out from the structure, or are following our retrieve for a fair distance before biting is anyone’s guess. Make sure you complete your retrieve the whole way back to the boat if you aren’t having much luck finding the flatties where they normally should be. My clients managed quite a few larger specimens this autumn with multiple fish in the 70–90cm category while lure fishing for mulloway. A few other reports of big croc-sized flathead have come from those live baiting with tailor, herring and yakka from Spencer back to Broken Bay.

The river has fished very well for the elusive mulloway with fish found on most trips. Some great-sized fish have been encountered on lures and live baits with no difference as to the better method to employ on a daily basis. The one key factor is if you pick a technique, stick with it and do the best you can. This means if you are live baiting have good quality lively baits in the water at all times rigged on sharp hooks tied on good leaders and make sure your knots are solid.

When lure fishing, you should ensure your soft plastic is straight when rigging it onto your chosen jighead. Have just enough weight to get you into the zone. Every time you bring your lure back in from a retrieve, inspect it to make sure there is no weed on it, and that your tail is still fitted up the jighead and that a chopper tailor hasn’t bitten your tail off!

Mulloway are a great species to catch and release. While they are in a recovery program, I highly recommend you release the models that are in prime condition. Keeping a feed of 40-60cm flathead is far more sustainable and will ensure that mulloway will be here to be caught well into the future and not just for our current generation. We can all do our bit to help this species recover from what was previously a meat and trophy based fishery. Modern technology (smart phones) with unreal camera technology built in, means you can take a quick picture and release them. A great way to capture that memory and fish of a lifetime to share with your friends, family, social media and great mags like this one!

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