Mudeyes - Naturally better baits

by Kevin Mulligan

Bait fishing with live bait is one of the best ways to catch fish - after all, it's natural. Recently Kevin Mulligan applied to the Inland Fisheries Commission for a licence to sell live mudeyes. After Kevin satisfied stringent criteria by the Inland Fisheries Commission he received a licence. One of the most important criteria was that the Mudeyes he uses and the areas he catches them in pose no threat to our trout fishery.


It is illegal to transfer live fauna from one water to another. I.E. Mudeyes can not be caught in a farm dam and then used somewhere else. After all that is probably how the Carp episode started. Kevin explains his theory and techniques for mudeye fishing.

What is a Mudeye?

Mudeyes are the final larvae stage of the Dragon Fly. There are two common types - "˜Spider"and "˜Fairy"(also called the Couta). It is easier to say "˜Spider"than Hemicordulia tau, and "˜Fairy"instead of Aeshnabrevistyla. Of these two common genera of Odonata there are 30 species of "˜Spider"and 38 species of "˜Fairy"mudeyes. These species are found throughout all Tasmania, mainland Australia, New Zealand and other islands in the Pacific.

How are mudeyes fished?

The most popular method is to suspend the Mudeye under a float with a running leader of about one metre. The lighter the line and the smaller the hook, the greater the action of the Mudeye under the float. Fishing with 1 kg greased line really keeps the angler on his toes, tests his skills and ensures that all equipment is kept in tiptop condition. (An eight pound "Brownie" in Lake Rowallan in 1992 took 11/2 hours to net). An angler using 1 kg line will catch a lot more trout than one using 3 or 4 kg line.

What equipment is needed?

As stated, very light line, greased. Light line will also allow the Mudeye to slowly descend. If the fish are deeper down the bait will eventually reach their depth. This slow sinking can be controlled by the amount of loose line run out. Floats should allow the line to run freely through them.

This is doubly important, firstly to allow the Mudeye to sink and also to allow the fish to take line without feeling the float. The size of hooks used should be larger than a No. 12 fly hook. A top class spinning rod of about 2 metres in length is required as there is obviously a lot of work to be done by the rod after the fish is hooked. Conversely the reel used must have good clutch with a reasonable retrieval ratio.

Top spots

Almost any Tasmanian waters that allows natural bait fishing. Fishing in running waters such as streams and rivers is great fun but the problem here is that the Mudeye is only going to last for a few casts. Fishing backwaters and lakes is preferred method. If a wind is present always fish with it to your back, this will keep your float out in the water and not on the shore. All lakes and dams in Tasmania have Mudeye populations, and those which have obvious supply fish better than those with a less obvious population.

Top waters are:

Lake Burbury, Lack Echo, Pine Tier Lagoon, Lake Rowallan, Blackmans Lagoon, Lake Selina, Lake Plimsoll, Curries River Dam. Quite often an unlikely waterway will be a real "sleeper", Lake Mackenzie, in the Western Tiers, is a case in point. If you feel comfortable fishing a particular lake, go for it!

Best time

The first two hours of light in the morning and the last two hours before dark are the TOP fishing times, but a Mudeye will be successful at any time of the day. My particularly favourite time is when the sun first hits the water of a morning. Fish will be caught at night, but not as many as through the day.

Best months

December and January are the very best months but they are effective from November to April. This is especially so far those lakes with a high Mudeye population.

Best conditions

Bright sunny days are usually the best but like all trout fishing there are complete opposites. (My son and I caught 15 trout in two hours in April, during a snow storm). During other insect rises/hatches Mudeyes are quite effective, cast with a small float, towards the working fish (especially in deeper waters)

Special considerations

Always fish with a live bait, dead Mudeyes float and therefore decrease your chances. Mudeyes are hardy animals and will take quite a deal of punishment prior to passing on. If you don't look after them, they will die. The best way to kill Mudeyes is to leave them in unchanged water or in with the dead Mudeyes. When casting with Mudeyes don't flick as for spinning as this will usually dislodge the bait. Try to shoulder cast with firm wrists. It is more of a slow job. Remember Mudeyes come into shore to hatch, therefore it is pointless being in 20 metres of water depth, 30 metres from shore. Have a separate spool for Mudeye line. This will ensure that the line is not a weakened or kinked by other uses. Always leave enough loose line to allow the fish to swallow the bait.

Storing and keeping mudeyes

The major point to watch in storing or keeping Mudeyes is to keep their environment cool. Keep them in water but ensure that it is always cooler than room temperature. They will not live if frozen, but ice in their water will slow them down and send them into hibernation. Between fishing trips store them in the vegetable crisper in the fridge. Change their water every second day in summer and ever three days at other times. If their water goes too warm they will attack each other and try to change into Dragon Flies. They will die in a very short period of time (hours) if their water gets dirty. Properly stored and maintained will live for 6-8 weeks (or even longer). Always change their water each time they are placed in the fridge.

Boat or bank?

The two major differences fishing from a boat with mudeyes and from the bank is that a boat allows greater accessibility to those difficult to reach "˜gut"feeling spots, and , less strain is placed on the Mudeye from the boat due to shorter casts and the ability to fish calmer waters. Overall results will be similar but slightly more Mudeyes will be used from the bank.

Where can Mudeyes be obtained?

Most leading sports stores in Tasmania are now stocking live Mudeyes, pop in for a look and at the same time see how to rig up.

Mudeyes are sold by the dozen. Your initial purchase will cost $6.50 which includes a polystyrene container. This includes a refundable 50 cents on the container. (Kevin has done this to encourage anglers to keep their containers and not litter. Ed.) The only thing to do now is to get your Mudeyes and have a go; if you are going to fish with five kilo plus line and use worm or grub hooks don't expect miracles. Good luck.

Go to top
JSN Boot template designed by