Bait to Plate

Kev Collins

Well known Restauranter and co-owner of Fish D'vine & The Rum Bar in Airlie Beach. When Kev's not working he's out fishing in the amazing food bowl of the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park or in his tinnie in the estuaries crabbing! His blog imparts wisdom, tales and info on all things fishing and food.

Mulloway Season in full swing

Cyclone Debbie’s effect on all things is lingering with a really positive impact on fishing around the Islands. Reports of lots of Red Emperor and Nannygai, some cracking Coral Trout and general great fishing all around. This is often the case after a lot of rain but the winds associated with the cyclone seems to have had some unusual effects. I fish a lot in Whitehaven Bay. Having already blogged about the Hill Inlet grunter, which are still there and plentiful, I also have a few spots out in the bay proper, just a kilometre or so from the beach itself which I fish often. Last week was amazing. Glass calm conditions made for easy fishing and we caught a lot of Red Throat Emperor. In all the years I have fished the Whitsundays I have only ever caught 2 around the Islands as these are typically a fish only caught out at the reef itself. I thought the first one was a fluke but after catching 7 in a single session, where I have never seen them before, they have clearly been impacted by the weather. Another great surprise, at the same pinnacle I might add, was black Mulloway. I have caught the odd small one at this spot but they were in large numbers and large fish. After catching 3 we moved away and left them biting as they are not a fish which you can release after catching in deep water as they suffer from barotrauma and do not survive release. The pinnacle I fish also has a large resident Tiger Shark which always seems to eat at least 1 good fish every time I fish there. This time was no exception collecting a bit of “tax” as you can see in the attached photo. Hope he enjoyed it as much as I will enjoy what he left behind.

Mulloway is a great local fish, similar in looks and taste to the prized southern silver mulloway. These are also called jewfish but are all closely related. A very firm dense white flesh which breaks away in large flakes. It is a fish which will stand up to strong spices mixes, curries or is great in a fish chowder or bouillabaisse. Winter is mulloway season. You will see some turning up in our better fish retailers and speciality seafood restaurants (like ours =)) so give it a try. Fresh, local and only ever line caught this is a great sustainable fishery and so much better for us in terms of looking after the environment, local jobs and the quality of fish you get to feed you family with than anything you will find “imported and thawed for your convenience” at the supermarket.

I find shopping at supermarkets, whilst at times a great convenience, always a bit depressing, particularly looking at the produce, meats and seafood. Taking the time to visit a proper fruit and veg shop like Prickly Pineapple, a specialty butcher and a specialty local seafood supplier can be a really enjoyable experience and something the kids will love doing with you. Take them “proper” shopping and you will see them get interested not just in the produce, but also cooking, and this is a life skill we should all be encouraging.