Home' Afloat : AFLOAT July 2016 Contents 46 AFLOAT.com.au July 2016
with David Lockwood
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Due to political correctness they call them mulloway
nowadays. But I grew up with jewfish and that is the name
that stirs the excitement within. Mulloway was always
more of a fishmongers marketing name. Regardless, everyone
loves to catch these great fish and few species are subject of so
much fish legend and lore.
With grandparents who had a flea-invested shack at Pearl
Beach at the mouth of Broken Bay, you were exposed to the
mystique and reverence of the jewfish at any early age. For it
was upon the palm trees that lined the beach that anglers would
engrave the weighs of their best fish.
Catching a big jewfish is worthy of an epitaph. But it’s only in
recent times, through research and satellite-tagging efforts by the
NSW DPI and the UNSW that a lot of jewfish lore and presumed
behaviour is being substantiated by science.
Two key posts by NSW DPI this past month commanded this
jewfish junkie’s attention. The first had to do with boat traffic
and it’s just as you might image with the wily jewfish running
for cover during the Sunday melee on the water. The second had
to do with floodwaters when jewfish were found to move into
the shallows to feed. That’s when Pearl Beach would fire, land
based, from the shore soaking a bait in a big storm. Makes sense.
Winter can still be a cracking time for jewfish in the estuaries,
but November is my favourite month. So I’ll be keeping the
following tips up my sleeve for when the floodwaters arrive and
I have a free day mid-week to wet a line. The following is pretty
much as NSW DPI printed their fishy findings on their sites ...
Using acoustic tags to track an array of popular recreational
fish species, including flathead, bream, luderick, whiting and
mulloway, NSW DPI revealed how boating noise affects jewfish
activity and foraging habits.
Evidently, increased boating noise resulted in jewfish ‘shutting
down’. Weekends, when more boats are on the water, saw mulloway
feed and move around far less than weekdays, when there are
generally fewer boats around.
Jewfish also feed on different prey when they’ve been disturbed
by boat noise, favouring easy-to-catch bait such as prawns and
shrimp as opposed to fish. These findings go a long way towards
explaining why mulloway experts tend to fish during unsociable
hours and with a fair degree of stealth.
The same study revealed floods could drive changes in estuary
fish dynamics. The acoustic tagging showed rain could increase
distribution overlap between jewfish and whiting. Jewfish tended
to move into whiting habitat (ie, shallow sandy flats) after rain
and switched from being active during the day to night.
Whiting remained in shallow water and decreased their night-
time activity, likely due to increased predation. This could go a
long way towards explaining why jewfish tend to ‘come on the
bite’ following heavy rain. And perhaps why they bite close to
shore and within reach of more anglers.
So a mid-week fishing trips after rain using live whiting
near the edge of the flats or a river mouth should produce a
thumping big jewfish. Somewhere like the mouth of Narrabeen
Lake where it spills out into the sea should be a happy hunting
ground at night. h
THIS MONTH’S FISHING OPTIONS
Compared with the rest of the world, our winters are a stroll
in the park. That is, until you have fished Cowan Creek off the
Hawkesbur y for the nocturnal hairtail. By golly it’s cold up there,
with single digital temps, the fingers aching, the tinnie turning
into a cryogenic coffin, and real danger should you fall in. No
amount of pea-and-ham soup will save you.
However, with safety in mind, winter fishing can be amazingly
rewarding. Do have a crack at the hairtail in Jerusalem, Waratah
and opposite Akuna bays. Expect a few school jewfish, too,
although the tailor and salmon off the beaches are more reliable,
especially at sparrow’s if you can do it.
Boat fishers will find oodles of fat flathead, snapper,
morwong and trevally on the drifts, with kingfish starting to
gather on the deep reefs later this month. However, for my
money, the old favourite of luderick fishing is hard to beat in
winter. The fish take green weed baits in the middle of the day.
This way, you can thaw while catching dinner in winter.
Luderick are just so prolific, easy to catch with a float and
that weed you gather yourself, great eating when filleted and
skinned, and they give a good account of themselves. If you
want a bit more sport, try fly casting using weed flies. It’s a
pretty trendy thing to do and the fish jump on. No bait, just a
green-weed imitation will do it. Beats trout.
Weed flies for luderick.
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