Mallacoota Inlet – A Special Place

Stuart Hindson of Aussie Fish Estuary Adventures is a local guide at Mallacoota Inlet. He is an expert when it comes to this place and in this article he shares some of his knowledge.

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When estuary anglers talk amongst themselves about locations to fish there’s not too many who haven’t heard about Mallacoota. This place is a ‘Mecca’ and for those who haven’t been here before l suggest planning a trip in the very near future.

Mallacoota Inlet is a huge expanse of water covering some 323 kilometres of foreshore and is 3 times the size of Sydney harbour. It has 3 main bodies of water which include the Top lake, Bottom lake and Fairhaven areas. It’s fed by two totally different but unique rivers which are the Genoa and Wallagaraugh, the Genoa being the bigger of the two snaking it’s way some 95 kilometres upstream from the main junction just above Gipsy Point. These fish rich rivers are the gateway to the entire estuary system with their importance sometimes under estimated by anglers fishing the lower sections.

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Anglers visiting ‘Coota”, as it’s commonly known, travel great distances to target an array of species. One can expect the usual estuary dwellers like dusky flathead, mulloway, whiting and trevally but there’s one species that stands out from the others and that’s the black bream. This sometimes wily critter is what draws most anglers to Coota. This is evidenced by the amount of bream tournaments which are conducted here with as much as eight events each year. To hold a bream tournament you must have solid bream fishing available and Coota certainly meets the criteria there. The beauty of Coota is the natural habitat that bream love. There are no oyster racks located here so fishing edges, drop-offs, gravel beds, snags and rock-walls makes up the structure that’s needed to catch bream consistently. Each distinct body of water through-out the system holds different structure so having an under standing of each technique required for each structure that’s fished will certainly improve your catch rates.

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Both the Genoa and Wallagaraugh Rivers are littered with snags making it ideal for anglers casting hard-bodied lures. Using smaller twitch baits kept close to the structure will entice more strikes than using a deeper crank bait. Black bream in this environment don’t like leaving home so a lot of pauses during the retrieve amongst the timber is certainly advantageous. I like suspending hards as it keeps the lure in the strike zone longer, but remember to fish it slow, it’s hard to do some times but if you do you will be rewarded. Both Rivers have ample deeper rock walls anywhere from 2-7 meters as well. These make perfect structure to cast smaller soft plastics, bouncing them down the rock wall faces. This is a deadly approach especially from August onwards when black bream numbers increase as they head into the Rivers to spawn.

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As to where and which rock walls to fish will be determined on conditions such as recent rainfall, river heights and exact time of year. If l haven’t fished a particular part of the River for awhile l like to use my sounder to try and locate patches of fish and target those areas accordingly. If you haven’t fished the Rivers before please take care as there are many sandbars and shallow rock bars that need to be navigated so caution must be taken. It might sound to some ”it’s a little hard” but if you put in the time to explore these Rivers not only will you catch plenty of bream but the scenery is breath taking as well.

The section from Gipsy Point to the entrance of the top lake which is generally know as the start of the Genoa River is rock wall central. It’s in this 3 kilometres that the deepest parts of the Mallacoota lake system can be found. Some areas near Cape Horn have depths of 23 meters but the majority of the rock walls average around 10 meters. This section is popular with mulloway anglers who like targeting them with soft plastics and bigger soft vibed lures. This can be slow methodical fishing as it’s possible to spend hours casting without luck, but you should be able to get some nice sized flathead to keep things interesting in between jew bites. This same area can really fire up for black bream right through the year but early April to July is exceptional with soft plastics, blades and crank baits fished horizontal to the wall edges all proving effective at times.

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Once you enter the top lake from the River section you start to see the size of this system, it’s an eye opener if you haven’t been there before. This section splits two ways, to the east you head to “Dead Finish” which is a classic example of what to look for when chasing shallow water bream. It’s a combination of broken gravel beds with sand and rocky patches that screams fish. This area is ideal for slow rolling deeper crank baits anywhere from a foot of water to two plus meters. On the western side of the lake you have the SW arm which is a little shallower than dead finish but much the same structure underneath. Anglers catch plenty of bream and flathead here with Palmer’s bank which is in between the ,a hotspot for bream anglers throughout the year.

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As we head into the Narrows heading South into the Bottom Lake you have another arm which is called Double creek. This amazing piece of water is a favourite of mine which fires for most of the year. In the Summer months the edge bite can be incredible with crank-baits and plastics both working a treat. Once the weather cools the bream will school up in the middle with water depths of 2-3 meters being ideal. It’s possible here that you will get some very big numbers when there schooled up like this. Both blades and plastics will work though every day is different.

The Narrows is famous for it’s mulloway fishing, especially bait anglers. There’s been plenty of 20 kilo plus fish come from this section with live tailor being the gun bait to use after dark. The deeper ledges here hold plenty of estuary perch during Winter when they head down stream to spawn. Fishing a mixture of blades and plastics will work with hard-bods fished close to timber catching plenty to. The deeper sections are an excellent area to target CROC sized flathead with the bigger the lure or bait the better. Every year a metery comes from here so it’s certainly worth a look.

The bottom Lake is a massive piece of water that has every type of structure needed for catching fish. The lower section towards the township and entrance has three small islands that are perfect for bream, trevally, flathead, whiting, blackfish and salmon at times. The bigger of the islands, Goat, holds some thumping yellowfin bream on the flooding tide, whiting are excellent here in the Summer months with surface walkers the go to method.

Towards the East we have Goodwin sands, arguably the most fished section throughout the entire system. This iconic bit of water holds all species at times and a favourite for flathead anglers fishing the drop-offs that surround the sands. This area too is great for black and yellowfin bream on blades, plastics and bait. I tend to find if Coota is fishing hard you seem to always get fish around Goodwin Sands so it’s a great starting point if new to the system.

As we look further East we have Fairhaven, again popular for bream anglers with shallow gravel beds and rocky points dominating the landscape. This area fishes extremely well after southerly blows with Cemetery Bight a hot spot for anglers.

There we have it fellow fishos, hopefully this little insight will improve your catch rates if visiting the pristine waters of Mallacoota. Tight lines all.

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Stuart Hindson

About Stuart Hindson

When l gained my coxswain’s certificate the game bug as I could skipper a game boat at the age of 18. Skippered 2 boats, a 33ft shark cat then a 41 steber for 6-7yrs. Absolutely loved it and in this time if I wasn’t fishing outside then the estuary was copping a flogging as well. Big flathead, bream and mulloway were the targets in the estuaries. LBG was also high on the list with Beecroft peninsula and the Mystery Bay rocks getting regular visits. At 26 I went and traveled alot chasing big fast fish. Spent a season at Cairns and Port Stephens, and went to Vanuatu for a look as well. Lucky enough to land a massive Black marlin estimated at 1100lb at Lizard Island before she was let go. That fish was a childhood dream that came true and took 6.5 hrs to land on 130lb chair tackle.

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