It’s been described as the holy grail of Lake Macquarie lure fishing, and talk about hitting a century on debut – make it a triple.
Twenty-year-old gun lake angler Alex Schmaler-Loomes had only just received his mulloway tagging kit from the Department of Fisheries to take part in the Recreational Jewfish tagging program.
He was out on Lake Macquarie last Thursday with Mark “Wilba” Williams chasing big flathead, as it turns out, as part of the Lake Macquarie Trophy Flathead Tagging program.
They spotted a big bait school and drifted over. Alex declared there and then, as tailor were busting up on the surface, that there’d be a jew under that. And he wasn’t wrong.
First cast with a Samaki 125mm Vibelicious lure in the Smoking Orange colour and bingo, the fish of a lifetime.
Alex summed it up when asked about his monster 132cm mulloway this week.
“It was a big fish - really big. Really fat.”
One look at the photo of man and mulloway, arm in, well not so much arm but fin, confirms this fish would have pushed the scales.
Estimates had it at 25kg to 28kg, but what’s really impressive is it’s Murray Cod-like girth – big, fat, and conditioned – from feeding on tailor in the lake, according to Alex and Wilba.
“This one was so conditioned and healthy,” Alex said. “The ones you catch along the beach sometimes seem to be thinner, maybe from working against all the current. There’s not much current in the lake, and there’s heaps of feed, and this thing has obviously been living large.”
Alex is a member of the Lake Macquarie Trophy Flathead Tagging Group and works part-time at Fisherman's Warehouse Marks Point.
According to Wilba, who is co-ordinating the Trophy Flathead tagging program in the lake, it's the largest jewfish tagged and released in the lake to date and the largest caught on a lure that he can find from any verifiable source.
“I’ve been asking around to local lake regulars and can’t find anyone who knows of a bigger jew caught on a lure in the lake,” Wilba said.
“Alex is a good lad, good smart young guy and a good fisho. He only just joined the mulloway tagging program, and I guess you have to say, he’s started at the top.”
It was a 9am hook-up last Thursday, which was pretty cool, Alex said.
“We saw a bait school and drifted on to it and first cast, I hooked up to this dead weight and I said, “Here we go, we’re in for the long haul.”
Three-point-five hours as a matter of fact, which had the online commentators questioning whether he’d caught it on fairy floss.
“The thing is I had it on 16lb, or 7kg line, with the drag locked up trying to pull it off the bottom,” Alex said.
“It dragged us 1km one way, and then another kilometre the other, pushing the gear to the limit.
“We didn’t even wear it out, even though we were looking to see if it would tire out, but it seemed to be able to sit all day. We weren’t putting any hurt on it.”
At one stage, Alex thought it might be a shark because it was that heavy. It wasn’t stopping in a hurry, but after 3.5 hours we were able to tag and release it.
”I guess you could say it’s the holy grail of lure fishing.
”The amazing thing was that after that fight, we swam it by the side of the boat for five minutes and it took off as if nothing had happened.
”I’d say the survival rate will be very high.”
Alex is still struggling to get his head around the circumstances, given it was the first jew he’d tagged as part of the DPI program.
“My tags only arrived on the Tuesday and this was my first fish as part of the program.
“For the lake, it’s kind of unheard of in the modern era for a jew that size, and I guess that’s what makes it special.
“It will be interesting to see where it turns up from there.”
The tag, which is located just behind the first set of dorsal fins, records the location, time, length of fish and what it’s caught on.
Taggers like Alex and WIlba fill out a tag card which they send to Fisheries who collate the data.
If someone else catches the tagged fish and they don’t have a tag kit, they are urged to record the length, weight, location and particularly the tag number – and send that info to Fisheries.
That way data is compiled.
Members of the Marine Park Management Authority will address local anglers about the proposed marine park extending from Newcastle to Wollongong at Blacksmiths Surf Club this Saturday from 2pm to 4pm.
NSW anglers are up in arms about what they see as a lockout based on no genuine science about the choice of areas.
Twenty-five areas have been identified as no-fish areas along the stretch, with Hunter anglers particularly affected by lockouts at Bird Island and around Norah Head.
A Facebook page established last week has already attracted 55,000 members.