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Making waves: Mick Miller

Making Waves is a series dedicated to sharing the stories of trailblazers, adventurers, innovators, pioneers and people who are doing good things in boating, fishing and recreational water sports.

Mick MillerToday, we’re talking with three-time Cod Nationals Champion angler and expert lure-maker Mick Miller about designing tournament-winning gear and globe-trotting for big fish.

How did you get into fishing lure-making?

In 2014, I was involved in a car crash that I was lucky to survive. After many operations and painful legal proceedings, I was left jobless.

I had to find a new career direction and with the encouragement of friends, I decided to start Miller Lures Australia.

What kind of lures do you make?

Right now, I make hardbody and spinnerbait lures designed to target freshwater native fish such as Murray cod and golden perch. However, some saltwater anglers have picked up on my lures because they’ve had success with pelagic species such as tuna and kingfish.

When did you start making lures?

I’ve been making lures of one form or another since I was a little tacker catching trout on my own hand-tied flies. These flies were tied out of necessity rather than interest because buying ready-made flies was expensive. They weren’t anything special, but they caught fish.

When I started fishing for native species I moved onto making hardbody lures. It was just a natural progression, but the principals are the same: to make something that looks and swims like something a real fish would eat.

Like my flies, my first few lures were woeful! However, tournament fishing is really where I started to hone my craft. Trying to get one up on other competitors led to countless hours in the shed shaping, painting and refining my lures.

How long did it take you to get your lures on the market?

My first lure took four years of development to get it to the point of being saleable product and one that as a fisherman I would buy myself. There were hundreds of prototypes that ended up in the bin.

Tell us how you go about making a lure?

My lures are made from a hard-composite plastic.

First, I put the hard composite into a die under pressure. From there, the blanks are tested to see how they move in the water before being hand painted, rigged with hooks and then packaged for sale.

I focus on consistency and can confidently say my lures are 99.9 percent the same weight and size as the model I’m making.

This is important because when most anglers pull a brand-new lure out the box they want it to behave like the one before that might have caught the fish that won the last tournament.

Mick Miller and Ben ScullinRumour has it your lures have won some serious competitions. Could you tell us about this?

The most recent win was at the 2019 Cod Nationals Competition where my lure, called ‘The Go2’, single-handedly won myself and team-mate Ben Scullin the championship.

To design and develop this lure and be able to prove its worth on one of fishing’s biggest of stages is incredibly satisfying.

It’s hard to believe I’m now three-time Cod Nationals Champion. I was also awarded Champion Individual Angler for the Tournament. Okay, that’s enough bragging for now!

Are there any other lure-makers who inspire you?

Not so much lure-makers, but there are a few fishermen I look up to. Among my heroes are Zane Grey and Negley Farson – these fishermen and authors inspired a generation.

Zane for his tales of battling huge sea monsters and Negley for his insights on the finer details of fly fishing for trout.

These legends travelled the world following their passion and that’s something I find hugely inspiring, along with my friends and family.

How did you get in to fishing and what is your favourite type of fishing?

Through my family. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of wading along behind my father and grandfather chasing trout up Victorian High Country streams.

These days I’ll cast a line for anything. Whether it’s chasing 1000lb marlin or fishing for wryly bream, I’m up for it. And if it’s in some far-off country, even better.

You probably had some epic fishing experiences. Tell us about that.

I’ve had lots, but this isn’t a documentary. I’ve been lucky enough to have some incredible fishing adventures chasing all sorts of species in America, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, China and a couple of remote islands in Asia.

An experience that really sticks out though was catching a 110cm Murray cod on 16lb line on one of my Go2 lures with my mate Benny and getting the whole thing on film. That was special.

Where are your favourite places to go fishing here in Victoria and why?

Tough call, but Mallacoota is up there because I think it’s one of the best estuaries in the world.

Lake Mulwala is in my opinion the best Murray cod fishery in Australia and if sight fishing cod in crystal clear water gets you going, then there’s nowhere better than Lake Buffalo.

And finally, there’ll always be a place in my heart for skinny streams and wild trout in the Victorian High Country.

What is your favourite boat ramp and how would you improve it?

Hogans Road boat ramp at Lake Mulwala. I think a floating jetty would make it even better.

What’s your least favourite ramp and how would you improve it?

The ramps at Lake Hume when the water levels are low. Because it stores water, it fluctuates from being full to extremely low every year as water is used for irrigation.

When levels are low, there is one usable ramp at Ebden that’s still tricky to launch at on windy days.

So, I think a few more low-level ramps would fix this problem. There are two locations I know of that would be great sights for new low-level ramps.

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