Mulloway come out to play
  |  First Published: September 2009

After the 2008 floods, mulloway had one of their most successful spawns in many years and in Spring 2008 we saw huge numbers of baby ‘soapy’ mulloway caught and released in the Clarence.

Fishing with vibration blades or soft plastics, it was common to catch 30 or more in a session.

A year on, hopes of this year being a cracker for school mulloway are now being realised and many lure-tossers are getting amongst them.

About four to five years back I was fixated on catching school jew on lures, From October onwards you’d see me on the water around Maclean on every decent tide in pursuit of them.

The past couple of seasons have been poor and we have devoted very little time to them at all.

However, last month we saw plenty of mulloway of 4kg to 8kg being caught, with the odd 10kg- plus models to keep things interesting. So there’s reason to believe October will be even better.

Mulloway still remain a bit of an enigma to many anglers but if you follow some simple guidelines, results will follow.

One of the biggest fallacies is that they can be caught only after dark – wrong! I have caught only a couple at night on lures in the river, in fact some of my best have come in the middle of the day.

Having said that, the right tide on first light or dusk is certainly a prime time. School mulloway are all about the tides. Slack water is the key and so is knowing whether your chosen spot will fish better on the first of the flooding tide or the turn of the run out. Some spots will work on both.

Another key is patience. We often hear this word used in fishing parlance but rarely understand it! Patience in catching mulloway on lures, especially on the rocky reefs and around bridge pylons and other structure is about knowing when to show the fish what you have, not about sitting still for five hours.

Never turn up to your intended fishing spot and start flogging the water if the tide is not right. School mulloway, as their name implies, will pack together very tightly, almost lockjawed at times, waiting for the run to slacken before feeding.


If the tide is not right, wait until it is. Never show them your hand while they are not feeding because if you do, by the time they start to feed they will already be sick of seeing your lure.

The very first signs of the incoming or out going tide, depending on your chosen spot, are the times to surprise them.

School mulloway can be caught on a variety different lures and methods.

The Prawnstar Junior in natural or honey colour is a must-have for me on the Clarence. Still today my best schoolies have fallen to these simple little lures.

But if I was allowed only one lure it would be the 100mm Squidgy Fish in black and gold. Mount it on a pony-head jig with a chin spinner and your chances increase dramatically.

I often joke to customers that if they took this humble little softie off the market, it would take another lure a decade to overtake its results. I reckon it would be pretty close to the truth, though.

The current crop of vibration blades all weave their magic on schoolies.

Mulloway would have to be up there with the best when it comes to hunting by use of their vibration-sensing lateral line, making them suckers for a blade.

Don't assume you need a big lure, either – match the hatch. I tried for some time without success to catch a mulloway in the Clarence on one of the big Prawnstars, yet caught many on the Junior model. No leader prawns in the Clarence, I guess.

One last tip would be to use flathead as a marker. If we start catching flathead in our chosen spot, we more than likely won't catch a mulloway because they are the alpha hunters and are unlikely to let a humble flattie pinch their tucker. Move to another spot so you don’t waste the tide.


A late run of bream around the Yamba rock walls has produced some quality fish for the lure fishos. The bottom end of the Middle Wall has been firing on the first of the run-in tide.

For some fun and very visual action, try tossing some small diving lures up on top of the sunken rock wall and swimming them over the edge – and hang on!

This month the bream will be looking to the surface, especially when the first termite hatches start, so get ready for some surface lure fun.

It is fair to say that the offshore scene on the Clarence coast has not been memorable for most of the past few months.

The floods that rocked the area over Autumn and early Winter put paid to any real inshore snapper season. All the close reefs are covered in silt and the smallest bump in the ocean turns the water in close to muck. This is also evident in the almost non-existent lobster season.

The wider reefs have certainly seen the most action and this will continue through October.

With several days topping 30° already, you can’t help but think of bass.

A couple of issues back I wrote about the current crop of Daiwa Interline spinning rods and if you thought I was excited then, you should see me now that I have hold of the baitcast model.

I cut my teeth as a kid bass fishing on the Nepean River. To me, snag bashing is best done with a single-handed baitcast outfit and the ability to accurately control the flight of your lures into the intended area will be rewarded.

The Daiwa Tournament-X 661MFB would have to be amongst the sweetest rods I have cast. If you love the feel and speed of IMX Loomis, you will fall in love with this rod.

If you are looking for the perfect Jackall TN rod or for casting lures of 7g to 18g, I think you’ve found it.

Call in to your nearest stockist (or better still, me!) and have a play with one. Best leave the Minister for War and Finance at home, though, as you won't want to leave without one.

For all the latest info call in and see us at Big River Bait & Tackle, 16 River Street, Maclean, phone 02 6645 1834 – country service with city prices.

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