With skyscrapers and buildings reflecting along the Swan River at the South Perth foreshore, the waterway in the heart of WA’s capital city has to be one of the most accessible mulloway locations in the country.
The river – hidden in plain sight – appears to be getting even better as a happy hunting ground for recfishers chasing prized “silver ghosts”.
Perth recfishers targeting the elusive Swan River mulloway have enjoyed something of a purple patch in recent months, with some anglers landing metre-plus-long monsters near the Narrows Bridge freeway crossing.
This season’s bumper mulloway run has delivered multiple fish-tipping the scales at more than 15kg.
Recent posts online on groups, such as Mulloway Hunterz, seems to have ended the long-running myth that catching big mulloway in the metropolitan rivers regularly is a rarity.
City croakers a reward for persistent hard-work
Well-known angler and Recfishwest Safety Ambassador Chris Dixon feels like he may be on track to “crack the code” for metro mulloway river fishing.
Chris – one half of Dixon Brothers Fishing – set social media ablaze in April when he posted a photo and video of him catching a huge 142cm mulloway from the Swan River.
The massive mulloway, which was released, capped off three nights of hard work fishing the Swan for a river croaker. Watch the video here.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would see a fish of this size in my life, let alone catch it from my capital city,” Chris told us.
“Once you’ve got the bite, there is no turning back. It certainly requires a lot of time and effort, but to catch a big mulloway with the city in the background at the Narrows or the Causeway really is pretty cool.
“I hope to get to a level where I crack the code and can find them consistently, because catching more around the metre mark is more of a reward than just catching one really big mulloway.”
Mad-keen fisher Max Sampson has also had a great time of it catching silver ghosts this season, sharing photos with Recfishwest of the big mulloway he has pulled from the Swan over the past few months.
“The excitement of catching a mulloway is unbeatable, they are a great fight and a real trophy fish,” Max said.
“Catching 1.5m mulloway within five minutes of the Bell Tower is amazing – I just love catching them.”
How to catch a ghost
For many years, rigged baits have been considered the go-to method for Perth’s recfishers chasing mulloway in the river systems.
When fishing with bait in tidal rivers and estuaries a dropper rig and three-way swivel are recommended for those tidal flows.
Traditionally, the most popular fishing method for mulloway in the Swan has been fishing with baits, but more recently fishers are using minnow lures and soft plastics trolled or cast from boats to catch mulloway.
The best fishing times are at dusk and dawn especially with a rising tide. Mulloway, once caught, will typically make two runs and it is best to let them run on their first and bring them in on their second run. Be careful when handling the fish, taking care to always support the body.
Mulloway catches at WA’s beaches on the west coast between Kalbarri and Lancelin have been fairly common for recfishers who know the gutters in which the fish are likely to be lurking at favourite spots such as S-Bend and flat rocks, which seem to produce decent mulloway on a regular basis.
Check these mulloway catches out from across WA:
The King and Kalgan rivers on the State’s south coast are also regular reporting good catches. However, in recent years, reports of monster mulloway catches from the metropolitan rivers had been on the decline.
With the recent great run of catches in the Swan, it is great to see many fishers choosing to release their fish allowing them to fight another day especially considering large mulloway taste great. Small ones do not make very good table fish hence their moniker “soapies,” and should be released.
Currently, the mulloway minimum legal-size limit is 50cm, however, mulloway do not start reproducing until they are between 80cm to 90cm which is why Recfishwest supports raising the minimum size limit for them.
For those lucky enough to catch a mulloway for dinner, extracting the mulloway’s jewels (otoliths) can provide a couple of striking trophies of your catch that make for a great conversation piece!
Healthy river systems lead to heathy fish stocks
Recfishwest recognises mulloway’s value as a trophy species for WA’s recfishers.
We have supported projects to boost stocks of the prized fish, including a 2012 Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund project that saw 20,000 juvenile mulloway released, with 600 released in the Swan and 1,400 in Mandurah and the rest near Jurien.
By now these fish should be approaching the magical metre mark.
We believe stock enhancement projects like this can play a big part in future-proofing fish stocks and making the fishing experience better. Abundant fish stocks are more resilient to modern day pressures and are more likely to deliver a better fishing experience because fishing is better when fish are biting!
Fishing for mulloway is one of the great WA fishing experiences – if you’ve the skill to hook up to one the sheer power of a big mulloway run is the kind of gut-churning thrill that keeps many anglers coming back for more.
This experience is freely available on the city’s doorstep, and for those willing to put in the time and effort, the recent catches show just how valuable the Swan-Canning system is and Recfishwest will continue to make sure it stays that way.