by Mark Saxon | Australian Lure Fishing

Tweed River Mangrove Jack Map
Mark Saxon

Mark Saxon

Fishing Guide, Author, Fishingpreneur

Mark is a former commercial fisherman who has been a sportfishing guide in the Port Macquarie area for almost a decade now through his business Castaway Estuary Fishing Charters. Mark writes for NSW Fishing Monthly and Fishing World, has a commercial fishing rod building business and developed Sax Scents, a line of fishing scents designed for Aussie Lure Fishermen.

Mark’s Top Tips For Hastings Jewfish

  • Lure fishing for jewfish in the Hastings River is about finding the deeper holes of around 5-7m. Spend some time exploring to find those holes that have water movement and are holding active bait.
  • It’s important to fish your lures very slowly. It’s easy to lose concentration and start working your lures too fast if the bite is slow. A key to catching jewfish on lures is to be persistent and focused, working your lures slowly even when the bite is frustratingly slow. 
  • Mark’s strategy when the fish are shut down is to have multiple rods rigged with different lures such as plastics, blades and vibes. Find a hole containing active bait and work a lure through it. If you catch fish, continue working that lure, if not, cycle through the other lures until you find one that’s working on the day.
  • The change of tide is always a good time to fish for jewfish, but they can be caught on other stages of the tide too if you vary your technique. Following the tide up is a good strategy, and if you’re new to a spot it’s worth spending a day exploring with the tide before fishing seriously.
  • Jewfish can be caught on any phase of the moon but the dark and full moons fish especially well for jewfish in the Hastings and the lead in to the dark moon is prime time. 
  • When the river is in flood the fish become concentrated towards the mouth and it’s time to cast the big hard bodies like Croaker Lures or Halco’s around the rock walls. Large paddle tail soft plastics can also work, but be aware the rock walls can become crowded with enthusiastic anglers during these times. 

Mark’s Preferred Tackle For Jewfish

  • Most river fish are 70-110cm, so they can be handled comfortably on 7′ rods of 4-6kg line class coupled with 2500 to 4000 sized reels (usually 3000) and spooled with 15lb braid. Mark uses a 25lb leader. This style of gear can be used for throwing pretty much all plastic and vibes used in the Hastings River for jewfish.

Mark’s Best Jewfish Lures

  • Mark likes the Sumaki vibration baits in all three sizes: 70, 110 and 125mm. It is important not to use cheap vibration baits because too many of them don’t vibrate on the the drop. Since the majority of jewfish take vibration baits on the drop the cheap lures often won;t take fish. Mark uses the 70mm versions when he’s fishing places where he might take a by catch of bream or flathead and usually fishes those on 3kg gear. The larger lures he uses in the deep holes when he’s exclusively targeting jewfish. When fishing holes cast long and work them along the drop offs. Jewfish will be close to structure. Mark mixes his retrieve up, but most of the time a small double hop or a larger, slow single lift works for him.
  • Berkley Gulp Nemesis 6″ is a good choice of soft plastic lure in camo colour and fished on no more than 1/4- 3/8oz jig heads with 5/0 to 6/0 hooks. 4″ Nemesis grubs also work and are worth a try if fish aren’t taking the larger lure. These are fished in a similar way to the vibes, except that the lifts are higher and the pauses are longer. Pauses are critical in fact, with most fish taking the lure on the drop or from the bottom. Jewfish don’t always take these lure aggressively, so any minor “tick” on the line could be a fish and you should set the hooks whenever this happens.
  • The 100mm Dragon Maggot works in a similar way to the Nemesis. Reds and greens work but Mark prefers the orange colours when the water is less than clear. Jig heads and techniques are similar to the Nemesis.

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Mark’s Fishing Businesses

Castaway Estuary Fishing Charters Port Macquarie is a smooth water lure fishing operation targeting bread and butter estuary species such as bream, flathead, whiting and jewfish on lures. 

Sax Scent produces a line of fish attractants for Aussie lure fishermen, with the crab flavour being particularly deadly on Hastings River Jewfish.