The great thing about being a jewfish angler and living on the Northern Rivers of NSW is that jewfish are able to be caught 24 hours a day, seven days a week – as long as you are willing to be adaptable and change fishing styles and locations as the weather conditions dictate.
The headlands around Iluka, Evans Head, Ballina and Lennox Head will provide anglers with large jewfish on minnow and feather lures day and night, if there’s enough swelling of white water around the rocks.
It may come as a surprise to some that fishing these locations in the middle of the day will more often than not yield the bigger class of fish, and I for one have taken the vast majority of my 20kg plus jewfish during daylight hours.
Be it floating a live mullet into a rip off the beach, spinning the headlands with lures, using a whole octopus on the river side of the Iluka wall or fishing the river side of the south wall at Ballina with a live tailor during a southerly wind – the big jew are out and about feeding.
By far and away the easiest time of the year for the average angler to catch jewfish are the months of May, June and July – or as I call them… ‘mullomay’, ‘jewn’ and ‘jewly’.
The reason for this, as I’ve mentioned before, being that the jew congregate in the lower reaches of the river systems in much larger numbers than usual as they feast on the vast schools of flat tail mullet that move downstream to breed each year.
Sure, jewfish do have a good feed on the travelling schools of sea mullet, however that run typically ends by the second week in June, but flat tail mullet stay around in their millions until September, before heading back upstream for summer.
At Ballina, as an example, these flat tails can be found right along the riverfront from behind the police station up to the mouth of Fishery Creek and beyond, so all you need to do is find where a patch is, hold up and fish there a few nights in a row over the slack high water.
Don’t be a goose and shine your torches all night – you won’t catch a cold doing that!
Stealth is the only mode to fish successfully with any consistency for jewies, so you have only yourself to blame if you keep catching nothing.
Regardless of what the muppets at the fisheries department will try to tell you, there are still as many jew about now as there were when I started chasing them over 40 years ago.
The only thing that has changed dramatically over that time period is that there are a lot more people trying to catch them.
And using toy rods and braid in harsh environments and soft plastic lures will never produce the same number of big fish that live and whole bait such as squid and octopus have.
You can stand beside me casting soft plastic lures or minnow lures when the jew are busting into the mullet and I assure you, I will out fish you 10 to one using a live bait – that’s just a fact of life.
On the Clarence Coast of northern NSW, the past month has seen the humble jewfish taken from far and wide, with inside the lower river, the breakwalls, headlands and beaches all yielding fish of varying sizes on a variety of bait.