Along the East Coast of Australia, particularly northern New South Wales into Southern Queensland, are a plethora of healthy river systems. They flow in and out depending on the tides, providing a range of fishing options for different anglers, from beginners to experts. Where these rivers meet the sea they generally funnel into the ocean through break walls. The perfect spot for a few predators to ambush anything getting taken by the tide. These man made structures have provided the perfect habitat for a variety of species whilst also serving their purpose of providing safe passage for boats.
Every town has a handful of fishos that know their break wall back to front. The when to fish, the right rock to perch from, the best lure, and precisely where to cast it. This information is generally specific to the location, and the idiosyncrasies of each location. They are often tightly held secrets but, there are a number of general rules to follow that can help you increase you chances, even fishing somewhere for the first time.
Mulloway are the most iconic species to catch off east coast break walls. From smaller sized fish commonly referred to as schoolies to massive slabs of chrome as big you can imagine. Here are some tips to help you hook onto a silver slab of glory.
WHEN AND WHERE
The bigger the River, the more iconic the break walls are for catching big Jewfish. The Richmond, Clarence, Tweed, Hastings and Macleay are outstanding locations. The size of the rock walls ensure that you can spend a life time finding new honey holes. Smaller rivers such as the Bellinger, Camden and Evans are just as likely with right attitude, equipment and timing.
Generally speaking the tips of break walls are usually a good point depending on swell. If there are waves bashing the wall, it usually means head west until you find a safe spot. Downloading the app ‘Navionics’ can provide some insight in to where the deepest holes are against the structure. These spots usually are the pick of the bunch. Jewfish like to congregate in washes or deep holes which is what you will be looking for when studying the topographic charts.
After heavy rain and runoff into the rivers the water colour becomes a brown soup, this fires the Jewfish up like nothing else, as they really don’t like being seen. For a fish that is so numerous they do a fantastic job of irritating anglers in pursuit. The outgoing tides will bring the dirtiest waters out to the ocean, ideal timing.
Tidal movements can make fishing very difficult. At times baits and lures are unfishable with the sheer volume of water being moved in enormous currents. The answer to the problem is to fish the changing tides when tidal movements have slowed or stopped. Changing tides also makes it easier for fish to be active as they don’t have to constantly battle the current.
The top of the flood tide is the most ideal tide as you get the best of the brackish water and added depth in the water column. If you have timed this tide with dusk or the evening then you have hit the jackpot as Mulloway are much livelier in low light conditions.
If you play the game smart, you can be gone for an hour and fish the peak time without wasting hours and hours. In my experience, the warmer months are the most successful.
I prefer to avoid dead baits for Mulloway on break walls. Baits tend to get snagged and sit on the bottom without covering the water column. People do have a lot of success with dead baits, it just isn’t my thing. Potentially because it is a little less stimulating.
I usually go for lures or livies. Nothing can beat a good live bait. If you have a Sabiki jig, it is always worth having a go for herring along the wall or use a bait trap for mullet during the day. A pair of Gamakatsu, size 8 Octopus hooks, snelled with 80ld Unitika fluorocarbon is optimal for bigger baits with a single hook for smaller herring. I use a running star sinker above the leader to a swivel. For live baiting I like a solid rod with extra length. The Samurai Ledge 50lb is 9ft of power so that the angler can manoeuvre their line over rocks without getting snagged.
My favourite type of fishing is to use lures such as soft plastic paddle tails. The large tail sends out an enticing waddle jewfish seem to love. 7 Inch is a good starting size. Atomic Plazo’s have plenty of colour options that mimic mullet which tend to get the bite. Heavy jig heads are effective, Seekerz 6/0 heavy fit perfectly with the plastic. If the wall is tall I stick with the Samurai ledge, if it is smaller and closer to the water I go with the Samurai 30lb reaction. It is 7 ft long and offers better control over the lure.
There are some essentials that you might need to consider before heading out. Gaffs can be handy if you plan on taking the fish home as some spots are difficult to land a fish, especially the bigger models. Head torches are invaluable when the sun goes down, especially when you realise you need to tie a new FG at bite time. Warm clothes and some cold pizza will ensure that you get to fish though the night.
TECHNIQUES AND TIPS
I remember as an amateur fisherman, trying my hand at fishing South Ballina Break Wall. I was using dead baits for 3 days straight without a bite. There was a bloke that came down and landed a 20kg fish using a soft plastic lure. It allowed him to fish a variety of depths and work the area effectively. Meanwhile the fish, holding in mid-water, were not even looking at my baits. I changed my strategies and started having success.
A slow retrieve with your lure will allow it to wobble and avoid snagging. Constantly winding at a slow pace helps to entice a lazy Jewfish. The retrieve can vary to work different depths, I find changes in speed the best way to do this. Cast, wind repeat. Have faith in the process. A slow roll allows for a heavier jig head up to 1oz because you get the added distance in the cast and don’t let it sink entirely.
If the current is moving, it is important to cast in the opposite direction to the flow. If you cast with the current then your lure won’t sink it will rise to the surface quickly with the added pressure. I cast as close to the wall as possible, usually on a 20-30 degree angle. At night time I will open up casts slightly towards the middle as a precaution but usually around 45 degrees.
The last tip would be to pick your spot based on the comfortability of the rock and the capacity to land the fish. Do you have a way to get to the water safely with a nice rock to slide the fish up? Gaffing can take the pressure off, but if you are by yourself it is easiest to have the foresight instead of losing a hard earned fish to poor placement.