More on Lake Burbury with Mudeye Mulligan

At 9:45 am on Saturday 15th November, Les Pearson (a local Burnie identity and a whip cracker to boot), and Phil Youd (proprietor of the George Town Outdoor Centre)  a Mudeye retailer and yours truly, launched our boat at Thureau Hills and set sail towards the flooded regions of the country through which the Governor River flows.

I provided all the major fishing equipment being used, this consisted of:

3 x 7.3 good quality spinning rods

3 x average priced spinning reels ($40-$60 each containing various makes of line, 4-6 lb breaking strain)

Ancillary Gear being used:

Floats 40 mm waterfill, over run-through type.

Swivels No 12 or 14

Hooks an assortment of:

VMC No 9287 BZ Size 12

VMC No 9287 BZ  Size 10

MUSTAD No 94840 Size 12

DAIICHI No 1180 Size 12 or 14 (chemically sharpened)

Note: VMC hooks are marketed as specialised Mudeye hooks.

During out 15 minutes trip to fishing Utopia Phil asked me the following questions on Mudeye fishing.

Phil: Why did you pick Lake Burbury to introduce me to Mudeye fishing?

Kevin The mudeye population on this lake is enormous. Fish caught in August through to April will usually show that they have been eating mudeyes for this whole period and consequently a properly presented mudeye will usually catch fish regardless of weather conditions.

Phil: Properly presented?

Kevin: The mudeye must be fished live and in such a way as to allow it to find its target, its target being fish and to find meaning if the fish are feeding 10 metres down to get to that depth.

Phil: I keep looking at the line on this rod and reel you have set up for me, it looks like cotton: how can you possibly hope to catch a 5 to 10 pounder on it?

Kevin: If I thought we were going to catch a ten pounder I would most certainly increase my breaking strain to a minimum of 6 lb, but I would gamble on catching a fish under this weight any time on 4 lb line as long as my rod was nice and whippy and my reel had a good clutch.

Phil: Lead on McDuff!!

Our first fishing spot was a mini-bay where we nosed the boat into dead tea trees. This allowed us to fish a semi-circle of clear water with approx 25 metres of water each side of the boat and allowed us to cast approx 20 metres from the boat (not that such a long cast is needed).

Les, being the doubting thomas in the party (typical for the whip cracker), asked me to explain the mudeye rig to him. Firstly, the rod must be long and whippy and allow you to direct and guide the fish away from trouble spots. The reel needs a good clutch with a reasonable retrieval ratio. The line should be 4-6 lb and must be greased to prevent sinking. There are many agents on the market which can be applied to achieve this purpose, gink etc. I myself, use Vaseline as it is cheap and usually last the whole season.

Les: what does greasing the line do?


Several things. Firstly, it prevents your line from sinking from your rod tip to the float, this then allows your mudeye to sink directly under the float at a controlled rate. The weight of the mudeye, hook and swivel is enough to run the line gradually through the run-through float. By greasing your line you also prevent your line from catching around obstacles, if it does catch, the fish will be unable to run the first few metres freely and it will usually spit out the bait if it feels any pressure. Just as important is the fact that you will cause faults to occur in your line as you continually draw it along rocks, trees etc. Thirdly, it removes another way of getting snagged.

Les: I hadn't thought of any of these factors.

Kevin: Yes, as a fly fisher, you usually only have light line for the first few feet of your tippet. Anyway back to rigging up. We now have our greased 4-6 lb line ready for the next step. Approximately 1 metre above our hook we affix our straight- through float and prevent it running down the hook by using a size 12 or 14 swivel, this float also allows the line to run through, and therefore the mudeye to descend. We place enough water in the float to suit the conditions eg. wind, drift, wash etc.

Lastly we place our hook on the leader of approx 1 metre in length and attach it to the swivel controlling the float. I just use a leader from the line on the reel, even though it is greased the mudeye, hook and swivel is heavy enough to allow gradual descent.

Note: Float stoppers may be used in lieu of a swivel. Many mainlanders use a sliver of cork tied by a half hitch also  ( the line is supposed to cut through the cork when you get a fish on, thereby alleviating all knots, but this doesn't always work and you end up with a half hitch in your line when you are playing a mice fish guess who wins!!) Right, now al we do is put on our mudeye and hope for the best (apply mudeye as per information sheet available from mudeye stocklists).

Our first spot yielded one nice rainbow and two fish which both snagged. After the second snag we sought greener pastures. By finishing time we had fished 8-10 different locations. My rule of thumb is, 30 minutes no fish shift to another spot. We usually managed to hook up within 5-10 minutes of tying up. To provide Phil and Les plenty of excitement 1 fished very close to dead trees and other obstructions around which feeding fish lurk, I would not normally fish this close in with my family or inexperienced fishermen. By the end of the day it was agreed that for every fish we boated we lost another one through snags or broken gear due to snags. When the fish know they are only several metres away from safety, they seem to fight a lot better. Nearly all the rainbows caught tail-danced across the water.

On arrival back at the boat ramp we had 22 fish, with a 2:1 ratio of rainbows to browns. Two of the rainbows were slabs but the other 20 fish were, collectively, in the best condition I have seen at Lake Burbury at this time of the year for the past two seasons.

Whilst cleaning the last of our catch Peter and Robyn Sheehan from Latrobe (who had spend 7 hours on the water for 4 fish 2 trolling and 2 on mudeyes) come up and asked the usual questions of how, when and where. It was discovered that Peter and Robyn had been fishing their mudeyes with clip-on floats, this prevented their mudeyes from sinking and therefore led to a much leaner catch than ours. Les, who by this time, claimed that he was going to sell his fly rod to concentrate solely on mudeye fishing quickly explained this fact to them. David Cheer and Simon Clifford from Devonport had also put in a big day out on the water for seven fish, plus two kissed & returned while trolling. Both these boats also had their share of losses prior to the net coming into play, but it still showed the superiority of mudeyes over trolling.

To summarize mudeye fishing at Lake Burbury, my advice is:

  1. Fish with fine tackle, hooks, line etc at all times.
  2. It is suggested that hooks no bigger than the ones mentioned be used. This will allow your mudeye to swim around.
  3. Shift fishing spots regularly if nothing is happening.
  4. Don't be frightened of getting snagged or losing fish, fish these places as you will still boat plenty.
  5. My preferable time to fish Lake Burbury is when the sun is out and the water is dead calm (that's when everyone else is off the water).
  6. Take plenty of mudeyes with you.
  7. Always grease your line.
  8. Your mudeyes must be able to sink gradually.

In conclusion it must be pointed out that mudeyes can be fished by different methods other than which I have written about. If your method is different to mine and you are successful, don't change. I know many people who fish with line two and three times greater strength than me and still catch fish, so, good luck to them.

Good fishing to all, from Mudey Mulligan

Lures to try

Lures that work well on Burbury include; Tassie Devil  - Flat line trolling: 47,48,50,51,16. Some new colours just released that have proven themselves are 31, 73 and 75.

Trolling using a Downrigger or leadline the proven colours in the 26g Big Tasmanian Devil are effective. You should also try the Luminous lure range which are sometimes exceptional in the deeper darker waters. Try the FLP & FLC (for best results "charge" them with a torch or camera flash).

Lofty Lures to try are the following. 13, 14, 20, 24, 43, 54, 48 and 18. The new wide wing Lofty Lures have also been very successful with some excellent bags on the number 18, 20 and 43. The amount of calls the editor is getting is amazing telling me how good these are working especially the #18. I thought anglers kept secrets?

Getting down deeper, as the wide wing lures do certainly get results. Another way is downrigging. Have a look at the last issue of Tasmanian Fishing and Boating News for some tips on Downrigging. It could vastly improve your catch. The Rapala Brown and Rainbow trout patterns also work well, as should the new Rapala Risto Rap" in 7 cm.

Go to top
JSN Boot template designed by