Chris Cleaver

Jewfish Specialist, Fishing Writer

Chris is a highly respected fishing journalist who’s worked in the tackle industry for many years and now works with NSW Fisheries. He fishes for lots of different species, but is best known for his ability to find and catch jewfish in the waters around the NSW central coast.

Chris’ Top Tips For Daylight Jewfish

  • Jewfish are actually not that difficult to catch once you get a few basics right. The problem is that most anglers get sidetracked by some common misconceptions.
  • Jewfish feed actively through the day, with the best times being around the tide changes. Slack water fishes ok, but the periods when the flow starts to slow down going into the slack or when the flow starts to speed up again coming out of slack water tend to fish better.
  • In large systems by following the tide up or down the river you can effectively be fishing the perfect phase for 4-5 hours, covering plenty of structure and finding fish and bait as you work the tides.
  • Forget about lunar cycles and barometric pressure. Chris reckons fish may or may not be affected but can still be caught by smart anglers on any phase of the moon and on either a high or low barometer.
  • Having deeper water nearby can help, but don’t be fooled into thinking you need to be fishing deep. Jewfish will often return to deeper water, caves and ledges to rest up but actively feeding fish are often found in quite shallow water. They are always associated with bait holding structures such as bridge pylons, rock walls, natural rock bars and so on.
  • Jewfish can be caught year round, although the summer lure caught fish tend to be smaller. By April-June the mullet runs begin as the water cools and the bigger jewfish are usually caught on soft plastics and vibes during the period between winter and late October when the water starts to warm again. That’s when the bigger fish tend to leave the estuaries again.
  • If the fish are present but not eating, try fishing the opposite tide, or working the lures from deep to shallow water as an approach to crack the pattern.

Chris’ Preferred Jewfish Tackle

  • Most of the jewfish around Sydney are schoolies in the sub-legal to 1m size class, although the Hawkesbury can hold bigger fish and may require a heavier tackle approach.
  • For most Sydney jew fishing Chris uses a Zodias 270M (5-10lb line class), which is a JDM rod distributed by Shimano. He couples this with a 2500-3000 size Shimano Stradic loaded up with 10lb Power Pro braid.
  • Leaders range from 12-20lb fluorocarbon and average 16lb. Chris uses 2 rod lengths of leader so that he can simply cut a piece off and doesn’t need to retie the leader every time it gets nicked by snags or a flathead by catch.

Chris’ Best Jewfish Fishing Lures

  • Chris likes the 100mm Squidies Fish in either silver fox of black/gold colours. He suggests fishing these on TT or Nitro Jig heads. For land-based applications where the water is often shallower start with 1/4 oz and move to 3/8oz if necessary. For boat fishing Chris suggests starting with 3/8 oz and moving to 1/2oz jig heads if the water depth and current necessitate it. Chris allows this lure to sink to the bottom and then works it back in double hops. Don’t be too aggressive with the hops, and keep the line semi-taut on the drop as that’s where the take usually happens.
  • A 20g soft vibe such as the Jackall Transam is another good option for jewfish if the Squidgies aren’t working. They are fished in much the same way as the Squidgies Fish but can be used when the current is running faster or you want to cover more water to find the fish. The technique is much the same as for the Squidgies Fish but is a single hop with just enough speed that you can feel the lure vibrating. On the semi taught line the lure should “swim” back to the bottom.

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