Trolling Hard Bodied Lures–Fishing Deepwater Part 3

Mark Saxon delivers another informative article this month being his last in this series , Fishing Deepwater . In this article Mark provides all the tactics and techniques in flat line trolling for Mulloway

In this final part of my Deepwater Lure Fishing trilogy I want to let you guys in on a particular aspect of river fishing that is tending to get overlooked these days especially in our eastern coastal rivers. I think everyone recognises how successful trolling hard bodied lures for species like our freshwater Murray cod and also our other icon fish Barramundi is, however I still do not see many anglers trolling the deeper water of our estuaries for another iconic fish the Mulloway͞Argyrosomous Japonicus͟ Let’s take a look at this and see if we can add another tactic to your list of methods and scenarios to fool these silver ghosts.


In this article I am not going to discuss the use of Downriggers only to say obviously they can be utilized, but for a lot of the areas we are fishing we do it is quicker and easier with flatline trolling. What is flat line trolling? Simply tying your selected lure onto your leader and towing it behind your boat at any given distance using either your main motor or electric, I do prefer the electric but have caught fish using my main motor which is a 90hp Suzuki so depending on wind and tide you are still a chance using your fuel engine and I’m sure big flatties don’t mind as we often get these trolling on my sport fishing charter boat ͞Castaway͟ especially with the children who get tired from casting.

unspecified.png4What areas are we looking for? Well if you are aware of your rivers deeper sections trolling these will be a breeze. If your new to an area first thing is to look at runs of 5m to 9m which is my preferred depth for this style of fishing, I know some rivers can produce fish in a lot deeper water but remember keeping it simple and being able to have one lure close to the bottom and one mid water will mean you can get away using your standard diving barra lures. So firstly we have a depth we look for then this is where a decent sounder proves invaluable. I personally run a Lowrance HD9 with side scan and it is awesome. With the Lowrance we can look at bottom structure as well as baitfish which obviously makes an area more attractive to the rivers apex predators. Also you have visual signs to look for breakwalls are often exceptional, also upstream river bends can offer a very deep hole and then there are those fish highways, deep water channels if they have rock bars or bridges near them all the better.

My first encounter with trolling for Mulloway was basically a fluke . I had come out in a dense fog and could not head up to where I had wanted to fish so I decided to stick close to the bank in a section that ran from 5 to 7 metres. It just so happened I had a gold Reidy’s Judge on the boat that would get me down to 4 or 5 metres just where I wanted to be, so I tied it on, cast it out approximately thirty metres back behind the boat then placed it in the vertical rod holder. So away I went working my way along the edge past a rock bar thinking which plastic I would tie on when I got to my spot. I noticed the rod tip bounce then come up again then it lunged down and the reel screamed off line. Dam I was on! I got this fish away from the rock bar and out into the clear It was only 80cm but it was going to be the fish that got me thinking I would be doing a lot more of this trolling caper.

unspecifiedLure selection is something we as lure anglers love, and most of us have a fair selection to choose from when targeting Mulloway. I like lures in the 10cm to 20cm length and diving depths varying between 3m to 7m. This is not the rule but it again makes it a simple task of being able to troll them on your 4 to 6 kilo outfits without the use of super heavy gear. By all means use bigger lures and heavier gear around breakwalls where you can entice some real crackers but the majority of fish we encounter upriver on the mid north coast will be from legal to a metre so use the gear to suit your area.

Lures I have used are as mentioned Reidys, Halco lasers, lures from Maria, also plenty of others from my Barra collection and even a few from my Cod Box. Lure colour is something often discussed and debated. All I will say is my successful colours have been ones that are gold or have orange in them however because I always have at least one of these colours out in the water it stands to reason it is going to be a bigger chance of being taken. I do put different colours on second rod and have caught on these but my confidence colour is definitely gold. I suggest if there are two anglers one should run a lure that periodically hits the bottom and the other use a midwater depth or a lure that runs a metre off the structure that way you can cover the area and water column. I place my lures anywhere from twenty to fifty metres behind the boat and this will depend on length of troll run and the bottom contour. Another tip for the guy using the lure that dives deep is it pays to hand hold this rod as you can drive your lures and avoid potential snagging with a quick drop back of the rod. When trolling your lures make sure your rod tip is vibrating . If it is not then you have probably got weed or a fouled bring it in and check it out as to not waste your time.


Tides and time of day are another topic of importance and although there is not an hour on the clock that you cannot catch jewfish there remains times when opportunities will be higher and if you can fish them you will be in with a great chance and this goes for trolling or casting.. A tide change around daylight or dusk is prime time as I believe this puts the odds in your favour if you have your gear and techniques sorted. So you cannot get out early or you have a dinner date and cannot stay out late ,then we look at a tide change at other times of the day and they will still be worth fishing. Remember daylight and dusk are great but all tide changes are worth fishing and as we move up river we can stay in touch with the tide aand this makes for longer sessions where your lure is in the water longer giving you that extra chance of connecting to that trophy fish. Talking tides and I think it is worth mentioning, that high or low tides do produce jewfish and also days without a lot of tidal variance means the water will move more slowly and again this can keep you in the hunt longer.


The rods I use vary but are mainly 3 to 6kg or 4 to 7kg and threadline or baitcasters will do the job. My favourite setup at the moment is my 3 to 6 kg Samaki extreme . It is a nice rod at 7 ft and can also with a quick lure change be straight into casting vibes or plastics. I run a 3000 Shimano stradic and fill it with 6kg braid using 7 to 9kilo fluro leader and I also run the 5 to 8kg Samaki extreme. It’s slightly heavier and handles the lures that are bigger with ease. Most anglers barra gear will be perfect for trolling and the other bonus is you get to use gear that sits around waiting for your next Northern trip.

I know a lot of anglers find trolling dull and I often read comments from respected judges that they wouldn’t do it. The bottom line is this can be extremely effective when other methods are failing and it can also be a great way to break up your days casting and when searching new water it can be extremely beneficial to working out your bottom layout and fish holding areas where you can later come back to for your casting pleasure. Let’s face it when chasing jewfish we want all the options we can and believe me after trolling your rivers you will be amazed at how much you learn by doing the kilometres and watching your sounder, good luck and I hope you ͞Get Ya Rod Bent!͟


Castaway Estuary Fishing Charters castaway round

Mark Saxon

About Mark Saxon

I Am based in Port Macquarie on the Mid North Coast of NSW and my position is Owner/ operator Castaway estuary charters, Fishing guide and co-developer with Mandy Saxon of Sax Scent.

I suppose I’m like most obsessed fisho’s started angling as a young wharf rat and quickly took my place as a permanent wharf rat when at 14 I became a professional commercial fisher, and was in that industry for close to 20 years.

Even though I was pro fishing from the port of Ulladulla I was always an avid rec angler, fishing the Rocks, beaches and estuaries of the south coast and participating in many tournaments with a great degree of success, you could say I lived and breathed fishing and still do! My passions are for teaching anglers what to look for and how to apply different lure techniques in our river systems for catching their chosen target the satisfaction from this when a client achieves his goal is hard to beat as any guide will attest to.

My business “Castaway” has made it possible over the years to show my fishing operation on television angling productions and my writing has seen me write about my passion for both estuary sport fishing and rod building. If I was too say a certain target fish was my love it would be impossible for me to split between the mighty Mulloway and the Aussie bass both hold a spot close to my fisho heart and kayaking for bass in the river and creek systems is certainly right up there but in saying that be it fly fishing for trout, hooking a rampaging barra or even in a dam chasing cod I am still just as excited as always to be on the water. As for the amount of days on the water per year it would be around the 250 mark and my enthusiasm remains the same.

Previous Deepwater Lure Fishing Part 2 - Upriver Bridges
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