Mulloway Mania


Bob Fisher's SportfishWorld Copyright © 2003, 2010, 2017 All rights reserved SportfishWorld, LLC. 2016

Dated: 11th February 1973
Location: Australia/Western Australia /Perth Metropolitan Area/Mandurah
The February 1973 Offshore Angling Club Field Day was held at Mandurah in Western Australia. Stories and rumours spread throughout the crowd of attending club members at the 'briefing' - of monster Mulloway being caught late at night from the beaches north of the estuary. Even so, some anglers disregarded this as pure speculation or too risky. After all this was a competition and Herring and Tailor were guarranteed to be caught in numbers at Tim's Thicket and White Hills. As usual, the winner would be decided on the club's scoring system of the greatest number of points - with a point attributed to each fish and an additional point for each pound. Based on that system anybody could figure out that 40 Herring (40 points plus a point per pound) would beat a 40lb Mulloway (41 points)! But I know what I would rather catch! As usual, the rules were read out loud by the Field Day Officer, any questions were clarified and after the whistle was blown people scrambled to their cars and 4WD's and sped off to their favourite fishing spots. A lot of people headed south, some headed north and a few stood around in the car park and said what's the hurry? I wasn't old enough to hold a driver's license at the time and as such I had to convince my Mother to drive me down to Mandurah so that I could compete in that month's club event. We were in the family station wagon, a 1973 Valiant Safari (with the ever reliable 225 slant six) and the top spots at all of the beaches south of Mandurah required a 4WD or a really long walk. However, Lee Townsend and Charlie Cato were still hanging around after everybody had gone and the dust had settled. Both of them had decided to go north of the estuary and fish for Mulloway. Lee said that we should follow him to a spot that was easily accessible and held prospects for that evening while Charlie was going to fish just to the south of us. When we got to our destination, we unloaded all of our gear and as was the usual practice we then staked out our 'section' of the beach with our PVC rod pipes. My preffered rod was a 12 footer that was matched to a wooden spool Alvey 650 C3 loaded with 20lb line. The rig was the basic surf rig that I used for most surf species back then (tailor, salmon and mulloway). It consisted of a heavier leader (to the hooks) than the main line. The mainline and the leader are attached to the opposing sides off a crossline swivel with a short dropper to a 4oz star sinker connected to the side of the swivel. I have always preffered crosslines to 3-way swivels, the direction of force and pull in a straight line means that the swivel won't bend like a 3-way will. With side-cast reels I always use a box swivel 12"-18" above the crossline swivel. The bait was simple, the ever reliable mulie (West Australian Pilchard). There was a strong sea-breeze at sunset that persisted for hours and there was no action other than Tailor. By midnight everyone else on the beach had either left or gone to sleep. It was a dark night (except for the stars) and as I looked around the bay I could see that all of the Tilley Lanterns were out - except for mine and one down south - that was probably Charlie Cato! It was a little chilly, so I collected some drift wood, lit a fire and persevered. In the very early hours of the morning the wind had dropped off completely - it was dead still and then the action started...The first hit saw the rod slam down in the holder and the ratchet on the Alvey scream loudly as 50 yards of line disappeared rapidly off the wooden spool. I locked up the drag and laid into that fish. A loud snap was heard and lesson one was quickly learned. Lee Townsend was sleeping soundly in his car. He was a good friend and after all he had put me on to this spot, so I ran back to the car park and tried to wake him up. "Come back when you actually catch one!" he said grumpily...and before he went back to sleep I'm sure he thought: "It was probably a stingray anyway"..."OK, will do!" I said enthusiastically and quickly ran back down to the beach!... A new rig was tied, another sinker attached, a mulie impaled and the whole thing was tossed way out into the night and into the briny. I stoked the fire with a few more pieces of wood and sat down in the sand watching the light flickering on the rod and reel from a short distance. It wasn't too long before I had another hit. The rod was bouncing up and down and the 20lb line was peeling off the reel. Time to strike and turn the ratchet off. This time I was more careful and took my time, gently applying more pressure when the fish stopped and letting him go (under less pressure) when he wanted to... Fifteen to twenty minutes later 45lb of exhausted Mulloway slowly flapped on the sand above the shorebreak as a wave receded. The gaff went in and he was dragged away from the water and safely up the beach. You know the drill: Run back up to the car park. Bang on Lee's window again..."What do you want now?" he said..."I caught one!" I blurted excitedly... "What is it?" he said..."A BIG Mulloway" I replied.. This time he was awake! By the time he had fumbled around for his waders and scrambled down to the beach, I was into another one. It was the early hours of the morning now. By sunrise I had caught my four biggest Mulloway, had many screaming runs and lost several more fish. Lee managed to get two at 45lb and 50lb. Back at the weigh-in I proudly carried my fish up to the scales. The Mulloway went 42, 42, 43 and 48 pounds respectively. ... Bob Fisher