Mulloway falling for live bait
  |  First Published: July 2016

The river and its tributaries have turned on some fantastic fishing over the last month or so. Mulloway have been the stand out, with plenty of bream and flathead to keep punters amused in between bites.

Live baiting was the stand out technique with fresh whole and strip squid baits a close second for mulloway, light leaders are the key to getting the crucial bite. Yakkas, herring, tailor and poddy mullet are all great live baits and last for long periods on the hook.

My clients have been getting some great action on school-sized fish and a few over the magic 1m mark when the conditions are favourable and the fish come on the chew.

Soft plastics will take over this month as the live bait gets harder to source with the onset of winter. Colour selection is always debatable, but anything natural looking always gets a run on my boat whenever the water is clear.

I prefer 3-5” lures in a paddle-tail or a stick bait/minnow. The most important thing is to rig it straight on the jighead, if it falls down all the time and is not snug up the lead head, replace it or re-rig it. This month bream will be hugging the deeper rock walls in the lower reaches from sentry box to the headlands. Small vibes and soft plastics have been standout lures. The trick is to get them down to around 8-10m on light leaders and do small lifts and drops to entice a bite.

Vibes from 3.5-10g can be used, as long as they have a small profile for their weight. Small grubs and minnows from 1.5-3” are the go-to for the soft plastics. Baitfishers will do well with a heavy berley mix to get down in the current and present fresh bait of prawns, squid, yakka fillets or some of the bonito you may have caught earlier in the season.

Estuary perch are spread through the lower reaches, and incidental captures are made on just about every outing at this time of year. They take up station on reefs and drop-offs where anglers hunt for mulloway. I can only assume from the teeth marks on some of them that the mulloway don’t want them there either.

It’s illegal to be in possession of estuary perch at this time of year, so take a quick photo, remove the hook and back into the water for these great little fish. There have been a few salmon and tailor on the headlands recently. Troll around the washes and cover the water until you can find where the fish are on the day. Keep your eyes peeled for any bird activity in the river, as the salmon headed upstream last season and several were caught around Spencer.

The hairtail have moved into Cowan Creek and anglers have fared well using whole pilchards, fillets of yakka and small live baits suspended under a float. Waratah Bay, Coal and Candle creeks and Jerusalem Bay are all favourites for hairtail through the cooler months. Reports of daytime captures are common from places like Flint and Steel, Gunya and Box Head with fish to over 1m common.

For a shot at catching a mulloway, try to keep live bait down deep, no more than 1m off the bottom. It’s generally a good idea to run a fair-sized ball sinker to keep this bait in check and not tangle other lines.

Night fishing is rewarding at times, but bloody dangerous most of the time. Remember to wear your life jackets where required, display the correct navigational lights and take lots of warm clothing because when that sun drops below the horizon the temperature goes with it quickly.

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