Genus Argyrosomus japonicus
A relatively long, solid-bodied fish which grows to over 1.5 metres in length. The colour can vary from silvery with a bluish back, to a deep bronze. There is a series of large silvery spots which run down the lateral line. The mouth is large and equipped with sharp teeth and internally the throat is a dark orange colour. Another distinguishing feature is the smooth black fleshy growth at the base of the pectoral fins.
Mulloway are commonly found in bays and estuarine systems as well as along ocean beaches. Mulloway are active predators that hunt schools of smaller fish like mullet. Around urban areas mulloway are attracted to structures like wharfs, bridges and rock walls where schools of smaller fish congregate and provide opportunity to ambush their prey.
Smaller mulloway are encountered in schools and range in size from a kilogram through to 6 kilograms or more. Fish of this size would account for the majority of captures. Mulloway are one of the largest species of fish encountered in the Port Phillip region and can grow to over 30 kilograms.
Fishing techniques and tackle
Much consideration needs to be given to the strength and type of tackle to be used when fishing for mulloway. A general outfit might consist of a powerful 3.0 metre rod fitted with a good quality, robust overhead or spinning reel. The main line may need to be between 7 and 12 kg in strength depending on the size of fish expected. A heavier trace of up to 20 kg is necessary to safeguard against line damage caused by the sharp teeth. Hook size will vary between 4/0 and 8/0 depending on the type of bait being used, and either a single or double-hook rig can be used successfully. Mulloway can also be targeted using a variety of lures. Fishing after dark around a change of tide and suspending live baits near the surface or mid-water is recommended.
The most successful bait for mulloway are small live fish such as mullet. These fish need to be caught before hand and care must be taken to keep them alive with an aerator and regular changes of water. If using a dead bait it must be as fresh as possible. Possibilities include small mullet, squid, octopus, or fillets of legal-sized salmon, trevally or tailor.
Mulloway are commonly found in the Patterson, Yarra, Maribyrnong and Barwon Rivers and congregate around structures. The areas adjacent to road bridges and wharfs are ideal fishing locations. Mulloway are also frequently caught in Westernport Bay by anglers in boats.
Sustainable fishing techniques
- Hook damage is the most significant cause of fish dying after being released. Deep-hooked (gills, gut) fish are far less likely to survive.
- Fish with a tight line so that fish are less likely to swallow the hook.
- Increase the size of your hooks to prevent small fish swallowing them.
- Avoid suspending fish on the hook.
- Fish hooked in the mouth or lip have the best chance of survival.
- Remove the hook with long nosed pliers.
- If you can’t see the whole hook protruding from the mouth of the fish don’t try and remove it.
- Cut the line and release the fish.
- Wet your hands before handling the fish.
- Avoid touching the gills and eyes.
- Return the fish as quickly as possible.