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Dated: 30th November 2004
Location: Australia/Western Australia /Pilbara Region/Port Hedland
Ok, let’s get down to business. Mulloway are an awesome fish to catch and one of the most sought after species on the West Coast. The thrill of landing one of these marvellous creatures is one that most anglers aspire to but unfortunately for some the opportunity seems to elude them no matter what they try.

I have tried just about every method conceivable including suggestions from local fishing magazines, fellow anglers and even some new ideas of my own. After literally hundreds of hours of experimentation I have come up with the tricks that produce the best results and penned them here for you to try. This article will be written with Port Hedland in mind but these methods can be adopted anywhere with similar results.

Most anglers that I have spoken to say the best time to target Mulloway is during the full moon period. As a rule I always fish during the first quarter of the moon phase but any time leading up to the full moon seems to produce well. Reasons why this happens are varied and frankly who cares! At the end of the day you want to catch what some people consider to be a ‘once in a lifetime fish’ and if it works for others it is a good place to start.

WHEN: Night time has produced the most fish for me but I have also caught a few fish during the day. My biggest Mulloway was landed at about 10pm so I would suggest arriving at or near sunset and planning to stay until at least then.

TIDES: As a rule fish tend to feed on the first movement of the incoming tide so it makes sense to target them during this period. Be in position about an hour or so before low tide so you are well prepared. Too much water movement may limit the feeding time to a shorter period because fish find it harder to hunt for food when the water is turbulent. Think about It, if you were a fish wouldn’t you hunt when it was easier to find your favourite food. Speaking of food…

BAIT: Most fishing articles I have read all agree on the type of bait. Mulies or Pilchards are at the top of the list followed by Squid or even a combination of the above. Some successful anglers have also used live bait adopting the ‘fresh live and local’ sentiment with Mullet, Herring and even Trumpeter proving popular choices. I had the opportunity to spend some time with a professional fisherman in Darwin NT and this is where I stumbled on the best kept secret yet, SHARK. Not so secret when this article goes to print. Shark has a strong pungent smell that can be detected easily by potential diners and this seems to be the key reason for its success as Mulloway bait. Take a fresh fillet, remove the skin, cut into small pieces (roughly 50mm by 20mm), and weave it onto a hook as you would a piece of squid. Shark flesh has the added advantage of being quite firm and this serves to keep the ‘pickers’ at bay for longer allowing Mulloway to track down your bait. Fresh bait is always best so try to catch a Shark when you first arrive. A Mulie floated out on a set of 5/0 gangs (don’t forget a steel trace) should do the trick. Bait choice is quite possibly the most important aspect of successful fishing so pay special attention to this and you are half way there.

TACKLE: Your choice of tackle is up to you but as a rule go heavy. I suggest you start with a 100lb hand line or medium game fishing rod loaded with 20 to 30lb line. Recently in Hedland a woman landed a 15kg Mulloway on a rod with a 4kg. This may turn out to be a state record for that line class but the lighter the line the more chance you have of being busted off or spooled. If you are fishing a rocky bottom I would suggest tying a sinker to the bottom of your rig with the hook/s about 250mm above, otherwise employ a running sinker with hook/s tied to the end. See examples pictured.

TACTICS: Set your lines as quietly as possible. After about 10 mins check your bait. If you still have all your bait leave your lines for longer waiting up to an hour between checks. If baits are being smashed by pickers check more regularly to ensure you always have a substantial morsel on your hooks to attract attention.

LOCATION: Always try to fish in the deepest water in the area. It may be difficult to find a good spot but the locals are very friendly and if you ask you are bound to come across someone who will help. For those of you planning to fish in Port Hedland three places that have produced fish for me are the 51 marker, boat ramp and 46 marker at Hunt Point. To get to 51 marker and 46 marker you need a 4wd or boat but anyone can access the boat ramp.

51 MARKER: By far the best spot I have tried in Port Hedland. By boat, launch at the boat ramp in town and head upstream until you can see the Nelson Point BHP ship loading facility to your left ( town side ) and look right. You should be able to see a channel marker with the number 51 clearly marked near the top. Anchor level with the marker about 20-30 meters out. If you have an echo sounder look for a 10ft drop off and drop your pick there. By 4wd take the Finucane road until your almost at the Finucane Island BHP security gate. You will come across a road to your left which leads under a conveyor and over a set of railway tracks. Stop here and turn RIGHT. Follow the dirt road down to the end. Now you will be looking across the harbour to Nelson Point to your right a few hundred meters is the 51 marker. Now turn right down onto the beach and follow it through a small dry creek. Keep going until you come to a very rocky track which will eventually lead to the marker. Cast your lines out at least 20-30 meters on the left side of the marker. Be careful not to retrieve your lines too slowly or you may get snagged on the rocks below. A tip for this spot don’t stay here more than a few hours because at high tide the track out is under water. As a rule once the water reaches the top of the rock ledge its time to go.

47 MARKER: 47 marker A little harder to get to by 4wd but worth the rewards.
By boat, launch at the town ramp and turn right. Just a few hundred meters away on the left is 47 marker. Anchor on the channel side of the marker to avoid the shallow rocky bank on the land side. By 4wd take the Finucane road until you come to the rail crossing under the conveyor. Turn left and follow the bitumen until you notice a gate on the road. Turn left before you get to the gate and follow the track to the right along the coast. The sand is very soft in places so be sure to let your tyres down to about 20psi to prevent bogging. The track will eventually lead to a reef which is exposed most of the time. Drive down onto the rock platform to the right of the reef and head straight out to the marker. Watch out for rock pools some of them are quite deep and driving into one could do some serious damage. As the tide rises the rock platform will become completely submerged so access is limited to a few hours either side of low tide. Set your lines anywhere near the marker at least 10meters out. Watch out for submerged rocks in front of the marker, this area is particularly snaggy.

BOAT RAMP: The easiest way to have a stab at landing your very own prize Mulloway with the least amount of effort is here. Park at the boat ramp car park and walk down to the rock platform to the right of the ramp. This platform is only exposed for a few hours during low tide so plan your trip. Walk down to the edge of the drop off and set your lines near the channel marker. From here you can cast directly into the shipping channel. Deep water!!

No one can guarantee that you will catch that elusive prize you seek but if you put into play the tips I have given, you reduce the chance factor and turn it into odds in your favour. The key is persistence and patience coupled with correct method. If at first you don’t succeed try and try again.

Happy fishing. ... Shane Baker