|I have been chasing Mulloway since I was a lad I first started visiting Salt Creek when I was 17 I used to tow trailer behind my HT Holden Kingswood with a motorbike in the tray, camp on the Coorong side of the of the 42 mile crossing and travel across to the beach with a 12 ft rod sticking out from a backpack I was as keen as mustard.
The first Mulloway I caught was about 5 kilos and I have been hooked since that first fish. That was at 38 mile crossing on the ocean beach on the Coorong and was 26 years ago.
Over the years I have chased them from Nelson to the Nullabor and quite a few spots in between. I have caught a few good fish in the 10-15kg range but until now I have never caught what I call a big Mulloway.
But it has finally happened!!! I traveled across to Yalata recently and scored a big Mulloway.
When I arrived at the campsite at about 10.00 am the first bloke I spoke to told me he was leaving as he had been there for 4 days and not caught anything, I also spoke to two other groups who had been for a week and caught bugger all.
Everyone who I spoke to reckoned it was dead quite and was ready to give it away, I thought to myself just my luck I lob at Yalata and the fish are on holidays.
Anyway I thought if nothing has been caught for a few days then the law of averages says it must be closer to the time when the next good fish is caught and hopefully by yours truly.
With much excitement and anticipation I gathered my gear together, headed down to sand dune to the beach from the day car park.
I had spotted a beautiful deep gutter that extended for approximately 100m to the west and swung out to sea with a small patch of reef running onto the beach as far as I was concerned if ever I saw a beach that looked perfect for catching a Yalata monster Mulloway this was it.
I started by putting out a berley bag, the technique I use is approximately 20m of rope tied to a mesh keeper net with a brick and a lingerie bag inside.
I fill the lingerie bag with either the preferred frozen berley block; any chopped up old bait or any of the berley pellet concoctions available from tackle stores.
I place this in the white water wash, and attach the rope to a steel dropper hammered securely into the sand.
I then baited up and cast out my rods and placed them in rod holders.
I had brought with me a variety of baits these included whole salmon, mullet, squid and pilchards I elected to start of with fillet of Australian Salmon as I have been told that this the numero uno bait for big Mulloway on the far west coast.
It was a perfect day on the beach with a light Souwester and plenty of sunshine so I covered up with sunscreen, a long sleeve shirt, sun hat and sat back and relaxed to enjoy a great days fishing on the Far West Coast.
These idyllic conditions remained for the whole day and whilst the breeze had freshening by late in the afternoon it was very pleasant around 7.00 pm despite trying all the different baits, casting out as far as possible, casting close to the back of the stirred up sand and shifting up the beach 50 metres or so, I hadn�t even had a bite the two groups who were fishing up the beach had called it a day and my enthusiasm was beginning to wane.
I thought about packing up and returning to camp to cook some dinner however with the conditions so good I decided not to pack up but instead I went back to the car and left the rods baited up in the rod holders with the drag backed off and the ratchet engaged.
From the car park I could see my rods and the furthest rod was about 80 metres away I thought I could keep an eye out from the car park at the top of the first row of dunes and return in a half an hour, check the baits and return them to the water go back and eat dinner.
Well I did this and still nothing had happened, those of you who have visited the Far West Coast would be aware that it doesn�t get dark till quite late and after I had dinner I thought I can probably get at least another 90 minutes of fishing after dinner before it gets too dark to continue.
It was just after 8.00 pm as I walked back down the dune to the beach and whilst I knew that the next couple of hours were prime time for catching fish I didn�t quite have the same spring in my step as I had earlier in the day.
I got back to the beach and brought the berley bag back up and replenished it with the about a quarter of the frozen berley block, the heads & frames of the mullet and salmon that I had removed fillets from during the days fishing.
I then wound in the first rod saw that the large slab of Salmon was still in pretty good condition so I cast it back into the gutter, placed the rod in my surfmasta rod holder , set the ratchet, backed of the drag about a quarter of turn and started walking back to the other rod about 30 metres away.
Well I was just about to pick up the other rod and I heard the ratchet on my ABU 7000 screaming like a banshee so I turned around to the see my Sabre 540 rod bent almost horizontal to the beach with 50lb braid pouring off the reel.
Fair dinkum I ran back to the rod so bloody fast that Andrew McLeod wouldn�t have been able to catch me, once I had completed the beach sprint I picked up the rod and the braid was still disappearing from the spool with my heart rate pounding away at about 180 beats per minute, doing my best not to panic and lose the fish I leaned back on the rod applied some firm pressure to set the hook.
By this stage the fish had taken a good 100 metres of line and was beginning to head towards the patch of reef and was showing no signs of slowing down, by now I was really convinced that I had hooked up with the fish I had been chasing since I was a teenager.
I needed to make decision as the fish was getting close to the rocks and whilst I still had plenty of line on the reel I had lost a good fish under similar circumstances using braid and as such I do not have much faith in the abrasive qualities of braid.
With this in mind I tightened the drag slightly and began retrieving line slowly in an effort to steer him away from the rocks after few minutes he turned and headed back to the east but still was a good 80 metres off the beach and was basically swimming sideways to the beach from this time the fish was beginning to tire and was only making short runs and I was beginning to get most of the line back on the spool.
This situation continued for about another 15 minutes and I finally spotted him in the waves about 20 metres offshore, this strengthened my resolve to take it easy and take my time to get him on the beach safely, so steady she goes I took my time and few minutes later I had him in the wash on the beach, I walked into the water and stuck my hand behind the gill plate took a firm hold and he was mine.
I then removed the 8/0 Gamakatsu octopus hooks from deep inside his mouth and I noticed that the 60lb Jinkai I was using for trace was badly abraded from rubbing against his teeth so I it was lucky I had got him onto the beach, I don�t carry scales but he measured a tad over 140 cm and I am told a Mulloway of this length in good condition will weight about 30kg or 65lbs, by far my best fish to date and the highlight of my fishing achievements.
By now it was nearly 9.00 pm and it had taken approximately 50 minutes to get him on the beach, light was fading fast and I had left my camera in the car so I raced up the hill to grab the camera and grab a few photos. The elation and satisfaction I felt of finally catching a big Mulloway will stay with me for a long time and I look forward to the next time I get to go fishing again doing what in my opinion is the holy grail of land based fishing in South Australia.
For those of you who are yet to catch a big mulloway hang in there your day will arrive, it has taken me half of my life get one. Now I want to keep chasing them even more because I have now proved to myself that it is possible.
Finally the opportunity that we South Aussies have in being able to take a 4WD to a remote ocean beach in a protected wilderness and catch fish like these is truly fantastic.