It’s mulloway time
  |  First Published: February 2003

After the hectic Summer holidays comes a great reduction in the number of boats on our waterways. It's now time to target mulloway.

Top spots to try out your fishing skills on this elusive opponent are Wagonga Inlet, off the beach at Potato Point, the Tuross River system and the stretch of the Moruya River from the highway bridge to the mouth.

The time to try for the fish of a lifetime is at night, just after high tide, when the run-out has just started or from the bottom (slack water) of the tide for two hours of the run-in.

Live bait is the most effective. Poddy mullet or yellowtail of about 10cm to12cm will entice the larger fish. There are several methods of fishing for mulloway. All work for different people at different times and in different situations.

Some anglers like to anchor on the edge of the main channel at 90° to the current. They use one anchor from the bow and the other from the stern of the boat so that the fishing lines run out straight down with the current.

This method is used in the Moruya River, the Tuross River system and in the narrow outlet of the Wagonga Inlet.

In the main body of the Wagonga Inlet, the preferred method is to slowly troll along the second drop-off around the edge of the inlet, preferably using an electric motor. More ground is covered using this method and hopefully, there is more chance of catching a fish.

For those who like to fish off the beaches, again the best time is through darkness on a run-in tide, i.e., half tide in to two hours after the top of the tide. Spring tides (the highest tides of the month) are the best because the larger fish come close inshore to hunt their prey.

The rig

Rigging methods don’t have to vary that much and the following rig can be used in all situations. A sinker heavy enough to keep the live bait near the bottom on the end of a trace of lighter line with a three-way swivel two metres above the sinker. This allows the line to break if the sinker becomes snagged.

The line from the swivel to the hook (from 4/0 to 8/0, depending on bait size) is the same breaking strain as the main line and is only 30cm, to help prevent the live bait from tangling around the main line and to keep the bait well away from the bottom.

Take care to place the point through the bait’s flesh just under the skin behind the head and right in front of the dorsal fin. The hook is in this position because all predator fish attack the baitfish head-on.

When that first fish takes your bait, don’t be too anxious and strike too early. Allow the fish to run for 10 or 20 metres before you strike to allow it time to swallow the bait. You will have a much better chance of a solid hook-up.

A mulloway usually hits hard after hook-up and can take 50 to 80 metres of line in the first run. Just keep the pressure firm so there is no slack line. The fish will tire shortly and can be wound back towards the boat but be ready for another shorter, fast run as the fish nears the boat. Just keep firm pressure on the line again until the fish finally tires and can be wound to the boat.

Have a large net or a gaff ready to assist you in landing the fish, as many a sad and sorry tale has come at this stage about the monster fish that got away. Having now caught your fish, it is time to prepare and cook it. The basic principle to be successful is to keep it simple.

Scale the fish by laying it on the ground, tail towards you, turn the hose on full. put the nozzle on hard stream and hose the scales off from tail to the head. Remove the gut and cut off the head, then wash out the gut cavity, removing all the blood from the backbone.

Cut the fish into steaks about 2cm thick. If you have trouble cutting through the backbone, use a clean hacksaw. Wash the steaks, pat dry with a towel, then sprinkle with rock salt, black pepper and squeeze a liberal amount of lime or lemon juice all over the fish. Place on a medium to hot barbecue plate and cook for five to six minutes on each side. Turn only once and enjoy with a salad of your choice.

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