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Mulloway or more commonly known ‘Jewfish’ are a highly elusive and secretive fish. The bigger they are the smarter they get and the harder they are to hook!
The one thing harder than hooking a Jewie is getting information on catching them from those in the know. There seems to be a whole secret society type thing going on whenever the word ‘Jewfish’ is mentioned! The reason behind the lack of willingness to help probably stems from how stealth you need to be to target these fish, and having masses of people at your favourite Jewfish spot probably isn’t going to encourage people to share their knowledge.
In Victoria there is a small dedicated group of fisher-folk who specifically target them in areas like northern Western Port Bay, Patterson River and the Yarra River in Melbourne city.
Recently catches seem to be improving, and consistent numbers of bigger fish are regularly caught by guys putting in the hours. Fish between 10-15kg are consistently caught up around Corinella in WP and right up the top end of the Yarra River. There has also been a couple of 12kg fish caught as by-catch at both Rickets Point and Sandringham by guys targeting snapper.
Some of the most exciting reports lately though have been the huge numbers of juvenile fish known as ‘soapies’ (due to their poor eating quality) being caught in both Patterson River and the Yarra River in Richmond. Large schools of fish around 50cm seem to be thriving and guys flicking plastics and hard body lures around are catching 6-10 in a night.
Hopefully all these juvenile fish are a sign that were going to see a lot more big fish in the same areas in years to come.
How to catch Mulloway
Jewfish feed more actively 3 days either side of the full Moon. The smaller fish are more sensitive to Moon phases than the bigger models.
A tide change is the best, with the end of the run out tide usually producing the best results.
After a big rainfall, its worth checking out river mouths as this pushes a lot of food out to sea and in turn brings in the mulloway
Lures and plastics are great for covering lots of ground and the smaller fish will respond very well to small plastics like 4’ Gulps and paddle tails. Bigger fish will take lures as well, but it’s hard to go past a live mullet or small bait fish.
Jewfish are ambush predators that hide under or near structure and wait for baitfish to swim past. So place your lures and baits as close to the snags, piers and pillions as you can and that’s where you will get the bite. Be prepared to loose lures to snags, and when you finally do hook a Jewfish be ready to try and steer him out of the obstructions and into clear water.
When fighting a Jewfish in shallow water around piers and snags the best approach is ‘gently gently’. This is a very good technique that also works extremely well on Kingfish. The harder you pull on these fish, the harder they will pull back, and very quickly bust you off around the nearest structure. You will be amazed at how big of a fish you can land on very light gear, by using a light drag and slowly leading a fish away from the danger. Once you have the fish in deeper clear water you can just take your time and fight your fish.
When casting lures a fast action taper rod that allows you to give the lure or plastic the correct action, rated between 5-10kg matched with a reel that can hold a decent amount of 20-30pd braid, with a 30-40 pound leader.
For an area like Patterson River or Yarra River we mainly like to use lures so a lighter set up is better, while in the tidal waters of Western Port heavier overhead set ups are always used while fishing bait.
Lures such as Gulp shads, paddle tail plastics and hard bodies such as Rapala Xr12’s and heavier sinking Vibes will all catch Jewfish
Keep or release?
Mulloway are a pretty average eating fish, especially the smaller ones so it’s much more fun to just catch and release.