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Mulloway, Kingfish and the 'Murk' effect


wazatherfisherman
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As many older fisho's would remember, while in operation, Sydney's ocean sewerage outfalls were very popular fishing spots that produced huge numbers of a wide variety of species. Bluefish at North Head, Bondi, Yellow Rock at Malabar, Doughboy at Kurnell, Rosa Gully at Diamond Bay and Turimetta Head near Warriewood all attracted large numbers of fish and fishermen. When conditions permitted, plenty of fishermen, using all types of gear, tried their luck in the 'discoloured' water. Most of the time, at least a couple of species would be on the bite and throwing a bait into the brown or 'opaque-green' water would result in catching something. Trevally, Bream. Drummer, Tailor and really large Luderick were caught every week and for the 'specialists' Kingfish and Mulloway. In fact, both Bluefish at North Head and Bondi Murk were known as the biggest producers of Mulloway anywhere in Sydney. The abundance of prey combined with the dark water and permanent 'berley-trail' coming from the outlets provided a happy hunting ground for the big silver fish. My regular spot was the Mattens, situated just over a km north of Bondi Murk. Due to the danger and difficulty in climbing down, only about a dozen guys fished there on a weekly basis and we never had to contend with the sometimes really large crowds at the Murk. The daytime Mattens fishers usually concentrating on Luderick, live-baiting or 'cunje' fishing for Bream, Drummer and Groper. Night fishing was all about Bream and Tailor, with big Snapper and the mighty Mulloway also on the fishing menu when the conditions were right.  As for the night -time Mulloway, the 'right' conditions came about whenever the sea was really calm as the prime fishing area would almost always have at least a few swells washing over during the peak time of high tide and this spot faced southeast, leaving those drifting a live bait out under an illuminated cork vulnerable to swells coming in from their left hand/eastern side. Usually, we only 'braved it' at high tide when there were at least 3 of us and the sea was quiet and calm, as it was about a 20 metre run to safety if a bigger swell rolled in. Before anyone says we were mad fishing a spot such as this, bare in mind we were already 'mad' climbing a 160+ metre cliff in the first place. If you did get hit at the live-bait spot by a bigger than usual wave and knocked off  your feet, there was no chance of getting washed in, at worst you'd end up in "the lake", a gently sloping, large tidal pool that was open to the ocean about 40-50 metres further north. A worse fate was going for a 'slide' over a small section covered in barnacles- their open tops are unforgiving on skin. Taking this into account, low tide was a much safer option, albeit in no way as productive as high tide in this location, as the Mulloway were usually in pretty close- within about 15 metres of the rocks. Daytime fishing the same spot used to produce plenty of Bonito and heaps of Kingfish on both lures and live bait, but only rare Mulloway, even at the peak time of full high tide. Generally, until the sun had vanished well over the cliff in the later afternoon, there was only a slim chance of a Mulloway hitting the strategically positioned live offering. Kingfish were the main culprits for snatching live bait, which was fine by most of the guys, personally I absolutely love catching them. Other than the dawn and to a lesser extent dusk, the run out tide was the time that produced the most 'genuine' strikes. Genuine meaning the fish would 'go-on' with the bait, rather than rip the cork under and race off with it, only to drop it. This was a fairly common occurrence that became very frustrating on some days, when no matter what 'tricks' we used, getting a hook-up was almost impossible. However, there was one factor which always lead to a completely different 'dynamic' at the Mattens- the incoming of the discoloured water from Bondi Murk. For this to happen, a southeasterly wind needed to be blowing to push the very distinct mass of cloudy/brown water right in to the rocks. The optimum conditions came when you were already fishing and a light southeasterly would start up, it would usually take around 45 minutes for the murk to travel up to where we were. Initially, on arrival, the water looked a strange 'opaque-green' colour, with the wash from the swell against the rocks an unusual creamy colour. You could only see about a foot into it. As this visually distinct, new water started to come in closer towards the rocks, the fishing changed dramatically. First thing that happened was the Luderick which were usually in pretty large numbers out off this section and would be generally 30-40 metres out from the rocks, would come right in to within a couple of metres out, which made them a much easier proposition to get as you kept your float in close- no need for the long drift any more. Next, Tailor that had seemingly been non-existent would 'boil-up' and be seen chasing bait around on the surface. Bream and big Black Drummer would come on the bite if you fished 'straight-down' close to the edge. Yellowtail, the mainstay of live-baiting and sometimes hard to get enough of, would all of a sudden become abundant only a foot or two below the surface, right up in a tight corner and you could literally 'pole' them out one after another. Then, once the discoloured water had come right in and changed from opaque-green to full on brown, the Mulloway and Kingfish would be on the prowl and readily take our live yellowtail. All of the live bait guys used Alvey reels when chasing Kingfish and Mulloway, In my opinion the "E' series 650 and 651 are the best rock live baiting reels ever made, with a great drag and the handles mounted on the spool instead of the 'cross-plate'. There is no better reel for this style of fishing, as often towards the end of the fight and particularly when washing large fish up with the swell there is the need to either let go or more commonly give no line at all in these crucial moments. This just can't be done with a spinning reel, however, it could be argued "thumb-locking" an overhead would still have the necessary "give no" effect. If after Tuna however, there is no comparison to an overhead, no argument there.  Loaded with 48-60lb mono(Weiss Perlon, Schneider and Tortue the ONLY choices!) and we all used 81/2-91/2 foot rods built on 9 wrap blanks or cut-down heavy surf rods. The rig was a running bobby cork, ball sinker at least the size of a 10c coin, large swivel and about 5 to 6 ft of same line down to either 1 or 2  7/0 to 10/0  double strength suicide(octopus) hooks. This was set anywhere from 5 to 9 metres deep, depending on sea and tide. If yakkas were hard to come by, I always started out with them down around 8 metres, so as to miss the Bonito and Tailor that were usually encountered fishing the shallower depths. When the murk came right in, leaving your live-bait close in was the way to go as the big fish would be in close, using the murky water as cover, often hunting right along the edge. Perhaps this was why Pike, which were usually plentiful along the edge, were nowhere to be seen when the murk came in. In addition to willingly taking the bait under the cover of the murk, Kingfish in particular, would often take the yellowtail and move off really slowly, which was in direct contrast to their normal 'hit and run' method of attack. My own theory for this is simply that after surprising and swallowing a baitfish they were immediately on the lookout for another one, while the ambush conditions were made to order. Testament to this was on checking stomach contents, there were already other very recently eaten yellowtail. As previously mentioned, Tailor would often 'come on' when the murk arrived and throwing a pilchard, garfish, or a slab of Tailor often provided a few quick captures of these fast moving aggressive fish. Plenty of times, someone fishing for them in this manner would hook a Mulloway, often within a few seconds of the bait sinking close to a visual 'boil', showing that they were certainly hunting actively near the surface as well. In hindsight, a live Tailor or large slab of one could have been used. If the wind eased off, the murk would slowly move back out from the rocks and once well out again, the fishing would soon be as it was before the murk arrived. This of course meant that the Mulloway were gone again and any strike on a live yakka was most likely a Kingfish or stray Tailor. The usual Bonito didn't seem to like the dirty water, which usually was the top 8-10 ft of the water column.  Another feature of this murk water was that if in a boat, you could troll lures along the edge of the colour change and pick up all sorts of different species. Trevally in particular were easily observed sitting all along the edge of the 'murk-line' and were easily hooked on small lures and especially white 'firetail' flies and 'Canada' jigs, with the schools sometimes spread all along the coast until the 'cloud' of water thinned out. When the deep ocean outfalls were opened in 1990 and the 'murk' started being released about 3 km offshore, I wonder if the great schools of all these fish, especially the Mulloway simply moved out there also? In 2015 Sydney Water released a report on the impact of marine life around the deep outfalls, which concluded that minimal (if any) impact had been recorded on the species studied, and also that 'great populations' of fish had been observed in the waters adjacent to the new(then) outfalls. Do any other Raiders have experience fishing close to the deep ocean outfalls off Bondi, Bluefish or Malabar? I'd be interested to find out!

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Hi,

 

Great read. I cut my blackfishing teeth at North Head about 1 km north of Bluefish murk.

I did make the effort to get to the murk and was wondering why anyone would fish there when there was so much crap (literally) in the water. Your line would come up festooned with scraps of toilet paper, the odd scrap of condom and other stuff that gets flushed down the toilet. The processing back in those days was pretty minimal. And, the smell was awful.

I just couldn't eat fish from there.

Just the same, if you're not fishing for the table, I can understand the attraction of such places for the fish that could be caught. Some huge catches came in as the blokes at my fishing club would tell us about at meetings.

The climb down to the ledge was very sketchy and I wondered how you would get back up with a load of fish plus gear. I never went back.

This would be around the early to mid 1970s.

I then switched to fishing further north  at Long Reef, Whale Beach and Barrenjoey. The fishing was good.

KB

Edited by Koalaboi
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6 hours ago, rickmarlin62 said:

Not from down that way  but  a top read mate  well done

Thanks Rick I was wondering if there were/are similar ocean outfalls on the central coast? If so would you know if they were fished heavily like most of Sydney's?  

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6 hours ago, Koalaboi said:

Hi,

 

Great read. I cut my blackfishing teeth at North Head about 1 km north of Bluefish murk.

I did make the effort to get to the murk and was wondering why anyone would fish there when there was so much crap (literally) in the water. Your line would come up festooned with scraps of toilet paper, the odd scrap of condom and other stuff that gets flushed down the toilet. The processing back in those days was pretty minimal. And, the smell was awful.

I just couldn't eat fish from there.

Just the same, if you're not fishing for the table, I can understand the attraction of such places for the fish that could be caught. Some huge catches came in as the blokes at my fishing club would tell us about at meetings.

The climb down to the ledge was very sketchy and I wondered how you would get back up with a load of fish plus gear. I never went back.

This would be around the early to mid 1970s.

I then switched to fishing further north  at Long Reef, Whale Beach and Barrenjoey. The fishing was good.

KB

Hi KB the Mattens is a clean water spot that always had an abundance of fish, however not in the huge numbers of the murk. A 40 metre pulley rope was used through a permanently installed pulley to raise/lower gear, rods and fish up the most dangerous part of the climb, as it was not possible to carry anything on the vertical rope climb, but you had to carry them the rest of the way up. Plenty of my fishing mates weren't into climbing the cliff and I fished heaps of other spots with these guys, including the 'gutters' between Bluefish and little Bluefish, which was also a great Luderick area.  I worked in a tackle shop close to Tooth's brewery and many of the Brewery fisho's fished Bondi murk as their 'regular' spot. When coming in to buy rod building components for a 'murk rod' they always bought really large chrome plated runners with no insert, same for the tip, and a minimum size runner of about a 16 or 20 mm to enable all the line 'gunk' to travel through when retrieving a fish. That was in 1978

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Hi talking about a pulley system, as a young bloke in the seventies I saw a couple of photos of guys with rods and gear on a boatswains chair being winched across from an isolated rock as the swell had picked up, from memory I think that was up a bit from north Bondi. Would that have been the ‚ÄúBondi murk‚ÄĚ

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2 minutes ago, 61 crusher said:

Hi talking about a pulley system, as a young bloke in the seventies I saw a couple of photos of guys with rods and gear on a boatswains chair being winched across from an isolated rock as the swell had picked up, from memory I think that was up a bit from north Bondi. Would that have been the ‚ÄúBondi murk‚ÄĚ

Gday Deiter (hope I got that right!) Yes Bondi Murk had permanent steel cables running out to two different "islands" that were "private" spots- the cables had padlocks locked on in strategic places to prevent non-owners from using them. Once out on the islands there were chest-high 'grab-stakes' cemented in as 'safety' measures for when a larger than usual swell came in, as there was nowhere to hide once out there! There were a couple of really well made "lockers" built into the cliff wall where the appropriate gear was kept also.  A couple of Eastern Suburbs Anglers Club guys who fished the Mattens also told me of how they 'bounced' their way out to get over the padlocks on their own simple chairs. The same two blokes also used to drop an aluminium ladder across a 5-6 metre gap to fish from "Big-Rock" that is at the extreme north end of the Mattens over a km from where we fished. Big Rock faces north and is about 10-12 metres above the water. I wasn't game to have had a go at doing that!

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Gday Waza, it’s amazing what lengths fisho’s would go to for a good fishing spot, great info you must’ve been quite a fixture on some of those platforms in your day.                     Cheers Dieter

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Great write up Waza.

Never fished the Murk from the shore but used to go in and fish out of a boat, we never did that good  but it was closer to the Harbour than travelling up up Long Reef for Jewys. 

Fishing it in Summer with a strong NE, the back wash off the rocks made it unpleasant plus the smell as you mentioned .

As I had to pull the anchor up,  I copped my fair share of waves, splashes, sprays in the front of Seafaer VC and I do remember it left a bad taste in your mouth.

Edited by Blackfish
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1 hour ago, 61 crusher said:

Gday Waza, it’s amazing what lengths fisho’s would go to for a good fishing spot, great info you must’ve been quite a fixture on some of those platforms in your day.                     Cheers Dieter

Hi Dieter the Mattens is extremely dangerous to climb and every single one of the old crew had at least one injury plus very close calls with the cliff, including falls, Police Rescues, ropes cut etc. A couple of the guys tragically passed away. I decided to stop going following two incidents on the same day and none of the old crew go down any more. More often than not, our trips were overnight stays and a huge effort was involved in doing that, but the rewards in the 70's-80's were great. I first climbed the cliff as a 16 yr old and our fishing mentor Wally McLuckie continued climbing until he was 80 or 81 yrs old. A more terrifying climb is involved fishing Macquarie Lighthouse and I urge anyone thinking of fishing there or the Mattens to reconsider, there are plenty of safer options. Cheers Waza

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3 minutes ago, Blackfish said:

Great write up Waza.

Never fished the Murk from the shore but used to go in and fish out of a boat, we never did that good  but it was closer to the Harbour than travelling up up Long Reef for Jewys. 

Fishing it in Summer with a strong NE, the back wash off the rocks made it unpleasant plus the smell as you mentioned .

As I had to pull the anchor up,  I copped my fair share of waves, splashes, sprays in the front of Seafaer VC and I do remember it left a bad taste in your mouth.

The first thing guys learnt about fishing the murk was NEVER bite your line!

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2 hours ago, flatheadluke said:

Nice post Waza thanks for sharing.

PB king from the murk?

Hi Luke I only fished for Kings at the Mattens PB that was weighed 17.52 but I caught 2 a bit bigger that weren't weighed as I'd stopped club fishing. 5-12 kg fish were caught by all the guys regularly throughout summer

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Geez Waza you'll have to swoop out and get more ink ribbons after that lengthy post. As always, very informative mate. Lived near to Bondi way back in the day but always too busy to go fishing. The aroma in the area was something to behold, that's for sure. I hope somebody replies about the fishability of the offshore outlets, will be interesting to know. Cheers, bn

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11 hours ago, big Neil said:

Geez Waza you'll have to swoop out and get more ink ribbons after that lengthy post. As always, very informative mate. Lived near to Bondi way back in the day but always too busy to go fishing. The aroma in the area was something to behold, that's for sure. I hope somebody replies about the fishability of the offshore outlets, will be interesting to know. Cheers, bn

Hi Neil the Mattens is actually about 1.3km north of the murk and was clean water unless it was a southerly, then we got the brown water and of course the smell. Funny thing with the smell was after it 'got' you initially, you really seemed to become 'acclimatised' to it and didn't really notice until reaching the top of the cliff on the way back. I guess that must have been the way it was for everyone living in the area. The only time it was really bad was when the great sewerage strike was on, which was during a period of calm seas and fairly hot days. Untreated effluent was released straight into the sea and the 'murk-line' was more visible than ever, almost chocolate-brown. Bondi Beach was fairly crowded when we drove past on the way to Dover Heights and the usual northeasterly flow was pushing the murk water right in at the beach. The afternoon southerly breeze arrived and sent the murk up to us and the fish really came on. We had a couple of sensational overnight Mattens trips while the strike was on. I also hope someone replies re the offshore outlets, seems logical to me that there'd be tons of fish around them regardless of the "filtering".  Cheers Waza

Edited by wazatherfisherman
left the 'f' off fish!
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/17/2018 at 3:18 PM, wazatherfisherman said:

Hi Neil the Mattens is actually about 1.3km north of the murk and was clean water unless it was a southerly, then we got the brown water and of course the smell. Funny thing with the smell was after it 'got' you initially, you really seemed to become 'acclimatised' to it and didn't really notice until reaching the top of the cliff on the way back. I guess that must have been the way it was for everyone living in the area. The only time it was really bad was when the great sewerage strike was on, which was during a period of calm seas and fairly hot days. Untreated effluent was released straight into the sea and the 'murk-line' was more visible than ever, almost chocolate-brown. Bondi Beach was fairly crowded when we drove past on the way to Dover Heights and the usual northeasterly flow was pushing the murk water right in at the beach. The afternoon southerly breeze arrived and sent the murk up to us and the fish really came on. We had a couple of sensational overnight Mattens trips while the strike was on. I also hope someone replies re the offshore outlets, seems logical to me that there'd be tons of fish around them regardless of the "filtering".  Cheers Waza

Wazza

 

not sure if you have seen this

might bring back some memories even though lot earlier than 70’s

 

cossie

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1 hour ago, cossie said:

Wazza

 

not sure if you have seen this

might bring back some memories even though lot earlier than 70’s

 

cossie

Cossie you're a legend for finding this. Yes that sure is the Mattens. My only concern with it is that it doesn't show how dangerous getting down there really is. The footage from the bottom looking back up where all the ropes are, is taken from about 40-50 metres out from the cliff wall, making it look not vertical and relatively simple to get down. It isn't. The last 40 metres down the wall has only 3 cut foot-holes which are 6cm, 4cm and 4cm deep, only allowing toes to go in, and one is at the top overhang (35 metres up) which goes under almost a metre. This was the "moment of truth" going back up as you were hanging out backwards and one slip anywhere on the 'top' section means certain death. I want ANYONE EVEN CONSIDERING GOING THERE TO RECONSIDER as ALL the guys that fished there had accidents and near death experiences- that is the lucky ones. There were many who fell and died. ONLY ONE faller survived and I had an arm around him holding him to the cliff wall 30 seconds before he fell. He fell from the last 15 metres above the bottom when we were climbing down around midnight. He simply ran out of arm strength and he was on a 'flat' section with nowhere to put a foot on to attempt any rest. As a young bloke, having to work out how to put a "blow-up" suit on a mate lying barely conscious at the base of a dark cliff was dreadful, especially as it was lowered with instructions written with clay and a stick on the side of a canvas haversack.  The police rescue squad aided by about 100 others on the cliff-stretcher-rope took close to 4 hours that night to effect the rescue and Mark R was finally up in the ambulance about 4.30 am. Not to mention ropes breaking, ropes cut-yes cut while we were down there(rescue squad had to get us out twice in a month as the ropes had been cut while we were down), stones being thrown(we caught 3 teenagers who'd been keeping us 'pinned' under the cliff on several occasions), rope tie-off pegs/posts breaking, rock-falls and landslides. If it rained a waterfall of clay mud streamed straight into your face and down your arms from the saturated ropes. Sandstone erodes continually also. My brother only came down once and was so terrified that we had to call the helicopter to get him back up- in fairness to him, a great many who wanted to come got as far as the big rope climb and said "no way, you guys really are mad, it's only fishing"- each to his own, most people are afraid of something and it was a sensible call by anyone who wasn't keen to do the cliff. I had plenty of mates who caught plenty of fish in other spots. Haven't even mentioned the usual rock fishing danger of the sea. One of the spots at the bottom was called "suicide". I won't say any more other than it was the least fished. I copped a hairline skull fracture and concussion at another "safe" spot down there. I finally stopped going down after two incidents on the same day- first a Blue tongue lizard fell/ was thrown from the very top, landing between me and mate Ross D walking in single file. 1 second either way would have hit one of us. Would have been like being hit with a brick as it splattered over a few metres. Second was a pigeon that flew out of a crack in the cliff on the rope climb, flew between me and the cliff face, I was so startled I spun around, leaving me backwards on the cliff. Had to "rope-burn-slide" about 5 metres to where I could turn back around. Still had to climb up with the"burned off" skin, same as with skull and concussion.  Lucky the initial stages of the climb are "invisible" from the top and you climb down more than half a km away from what can be seen, so PLEASE take my advice FISHRAIDERS and go somewhere else, as like I said EVERY Mattens fisher had accidents, such is the nature of the spot.  Some of the footage in the second video is of Bondi Murk not the Mattens 

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1 hour ago, fragmeister said:

Great read Wazza,

I fished The Murk as a young fella and it certainly was productive.

Cheers

 

Jim

Hi Jim I only went there a few times to see what it was all about. After some of the customers in the tackle shop kept telling me of 5 and 6lb Luderick I had to see that! Saw some amazing fish caught. First time there I saw a bloke catch a Luderick that was easily over 5lb, followed by 2 more only marginally smaller- the bait- Bullocks liver dipped in kero! I asked him how often he caught them that big and he said "plenty times like this". He was actually fishing for Pigs with heavy line and the liver, casting right into "Burger Bill's"- the boily bit.

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Wazza

fished it myself early 90’s. Had some overnights there and often wondered how I would get back up the ropes in the morning.

I remember the overhang well.

The fisho who took me down there used to virtually run down the ropes. Extremely agile. He also stopped going there after being witness to a fatality.

I myself never introduced anyone new to the spot. The goat track itself was hairy enough.

Cossie

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6 minutes ago, cossie said:

Wazza

fished it myself early 90’s. Had some overnights there and often wondered how I would get back up the ropes in the morning.

I remember the overhang well.

The fisho who took me down there used to virtually run down the ropes. Extremely agile. He also stopped going there after being witness to a fatality.

I myself never introduced anyone new to the spot. The goat track itself was hairy enough.

Cossie

Cossie we used to stay in the 'cave' high above "greenie" where the rope up to "magpie" was as it was the only place that was comfortable to both sit and lie down. I could put a story on here every night for a year about adventures at the Mattens! Did one 3 night trip and a few 2 nighters. October for Mulloway and giant Pigs, November was giant Luderick, big Kingy's were a possibility any day. Fishing the back(shallow end) of the lake was the hottest Luderick fishing you could ever find. Did you ever try fishing at "Pig Rock" about 40 metres north of the entrance to the lake- in front of the "swimming pool"?

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19 hours ago, wazatherfisherman said:

Hi Jim I only went there a few times to see what it was all about. After some of the customers in the tackle shop kept telling me of 5 and 6lb Luderick I had to see that! Saw some amazing fish caught. First time there I saw a bloke catch a Luderick that was easily over 5lb, followed by 2 more only marginally smaller- the bait- Bullocks liver dipped in kero! I asked him how often he caught them that big and he said "plenty times like this". He was actually fishing for Pigs with heavy line and the liver, casting right into "Burger Bill's"- the boily bit.

Bullocks Liver dipped in kero! LOL ... maybe it had to be something stronger than the smell of the sewage.

You are a wealth of Fishing history Waza .

Thanks for your ongoing contributions

Cheers

Jim

 

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  • mrsswordfisherman changed the title to Mulloway, Kingfish and the 'Murk' effect

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