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  Fishing Reports

Ben Townsend

Port River Estuary System - Submitted 19/12/2001 by Ben Townsend
It has been a long term goal of mine to snavel a Mulloway in the Port River Estuary system. Having no boat, I had invested countless fruitless hours in a variety of spots, through North Arm, the wreck, the wheat silos, the submarine base and Angas Inlet.

After almost a year of persistence and perseverance, I was ready to give up - the Port River Mulloway just had to be an enigma. Or so most of my fishing mates reckoned.

It was 4pm in the afternoon in early November when I arrived at Angas Inlet, also known as the "Hot Water Outlet", as the basin is used to cool the turbines which drive the Power Station, and discharge bath-warm water back into the inlet.

Usually the warm water is a haven for trumpeters and other bait fish, but that day it took the better part of an hour to bag myself a shitty for bait. A big live bait always maximises your chances.

I noticed that a stiff breeze was blowing almost directly behind me, and the water was somewhat choppy and cloudy. My rig was unorthodox, having blown up a white balloon, and suspended the live bait about two metres below , with a 70 gram sinker.

Two 5/0 hooks were employed, one laced lightly under the fishes backbone, the other dangling free in the throat vicinity. Ninety percent of all Mulloway strikes are at the throat.

The water in the basin is perhaps only a couple of metres deep, but i knew of a channel extending across the center where the depth drops to roughly 4 metres.

My mission was to float the balloon out into the centre of the basin with the assistance of the tail wind. The live bait would hopefully bounce along the debris encrusted floor until it arrived some 200 metres out in the channel, attracting the attention of any stray Mulloway on its way.

As my 30lb monofilament line fed off the spool of my trusty Penn 6000, I tried to calculate the amount of time I had invested in this enigmatic Mulloway. It had to be close to a thousand hours. Hours of crouching in the blinding cold under bridges, perched on wharves and wrecks, battling off mosquitoes, boredom and fatigue.

It occurred to me that if the warm summer currents had not yet arrived, the nearest Mulloway could be kilometers away.

Finally the balloon arrived in its desired location, about 200 metres out, and only about 30 metres from the dense mangroves that surround the basin.I sat back on an uncomfortable boulder and cracked open a diet soda. Two other people were fishing unsuccessfully for bream, using the residential small rock crabs as bait.

Seven hours passed - I refreshed my bait about once an hour, and vowed this would be the last time I would waste tracking this species. It was still light enough to make out the white balloon in the distance.

I was half asleep when I heard a noise like a piano falling out of a plane and landing in the water. Startled, I grabbed my Silstar Powertip, and watched the balloon disappear completely, re-surface, and then take off at pace for Garden Island.

With one almighty heave successfully hooking the predator, I watched it as it continued to effortlessly peel line of my reel which was set on an ultra stiff drag mechanism.

It took two and a half hours to negotiate the fish, which I eventually muscled into shore as it gasped its last breaths, utterly exhausted and almost dead - almost identical to the way I felt.

It was a Mulloway, of course, possibly the largest Mulloway ever landed from the docks or bank in the Port River.

The fish was eventually weighed in at 43.2 kgs, and was unfeasibly large. It looked like it could have inhaled my bait and not even noticed. I could easily fit my head inside his rubbery jaws.

The moral of this story is that if you dream and believe, you will create and succeed, and that power perceived, is power achieved.

Written by
Ben Townsend

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