MULLING OVER THE BEST LURES
Recent advances in the design of large artificial baits aimed at catching the mighty mulloway are proving just as effective as using live bait
MULLOWAY are our biggest and most sought after estuary species but they’re not that easy to catch.
Traditionally, the mulloway specialist uses live bait, which means being able to throw a cast net or wade in waist-deep water dragging a bait net, then keeping it alive in an aerated tank until you use it. This requires a lot of effort and is the reason many anglers choose not to specialise in this species.
But there are alternatives. In recent years large artificial baits designed specifically for mulloway have advanced and, in the hands of a skilled angler, can be just as effective.
Targeting mulloway with artificial baits requires the same approach as an angler using live bait. You need to be fishing where they are, which is not as difficult as it sounds.
Mulloway are predictable – they haunt the same locations, feed at the same times and eat the same foods. Their favourite food is live fish, particularly mullet and tailor, so choose a similar artificial bait.
Anglers have three main options when selecting an artificial bait – large soft plastics, hard bodies and metal blades. Regardless of which style you choose, you need enough weight to be working your lure in the bottom third of the water column – that means if you’re fishing in 18m of water your lure should be somewhere between 12-18m down.
Large soft plastics work best. Some of the most productive are the 18cm Gulp Turtle Back Worms in watermelon colour, Squidgy Fish in black and gold or Whip Bait in white lightning colour. The secret is to use a large lure and keep it moving slowly close to the bottom.
Hard body lures are generally not as successful because it can be difficult to get them down deep where the fish are. However, they work well in shallower estuary waters, particularly around bridges and marinas that are lit up at night.
Any of the Halco, Reidy’s or RMG lures designed for barramundi will work on mulloway.
Metal lures can be very effective, particularly spinner baits or vibes worked slowly just off the bottom.
One of the keys to success is to fish when the fish are feeding. Like many large predator species, mulloway ride the tide, which means they feed on the leading edge of the tide. The minute you notice the water start to move after slack tide is the prime time.
They also love to herd baitfish against a vertical ledge, this cuts off 50 per cent of the baitfish’s escape route.
One of the triggers to mulloway feeding is water temperature, especially a plunge in temperature as a result of a few days of cold westerly winds.
They are also focused on schools of mullet, so find the mullet and the mulloway won’t be too far away.
A few of the better known locations for boaties include the Southport Seaway over the submerged pipeline or off the end of the north wall.
Although difficult to fish from a boat, land-based anglers have a good chance off the end of the Seaway southern wall as well.
At Jumpinpin inside the Bar at Kalinga Bank, the southern tip of North Stradbroke Island or the eastern tip of Short Island are consistent producers.
In Moreton Bay, try the steep drop-offs around the southern side of Goat and Bird islands, eastern side of Mud Island in about 10m of water, any of the ledges in the Rous Channel or along Moreton Island and any wrecks or artificial reefs that hold baitfish.