Jewfish Fishing: Tips and Insights for Catching Southern Mulloway

mulloway fishing, jewfish fishing argyrosomus japonicus

If you’re an avid lure fisher in southern Australia, there’s a good chance that one day you’ll be bitten by the mulloway fishing bug. Southern mulloway, or “jewfish” are impressive fish that can be quite challenging to catch on lures.  I’ve lost count of the number of lure fishers I’ve interviewed who found this species incredibly difficult to start with,  but now consistently catch the “Ghost of the Estuary”.

So on this page you’ll find some valuable tips and insights from people who catch a lot of mulloway on lures. And at the bottom of the page you’ll find links to all of the ALF interviews that cover the topic of jewfish fishing.

Understanding the Southern Mulloway (Jewfish)

Mulloway fishing: southern mulloway vs black jewfish tailThe southern mulloway is scientifically known as Argyrosomus japonicus, is a species that inhabits the southern coastlines of Australia, as well as other regions such as India, Pakistan, Africa, China, and Japan. It’s important to note that in some parts of Australia, the southern mulloway overlaps with the northern jewfish or black jew. These fish are very similar, so it’s important to be able to distinguish between them and know the differences in bag and size limits. One of the more distinguishing features is the tail fin, which is shorter and more rounded in southern mulloway and more pointed in the case of black jewfish.

Jewfish can grow to impressive sizes, reaching lengths of up to 2 meters and weighing over 100 kilograms. However, the average size typically ranges between 80 and 120 centimeters. Southern Mulloway have a slender, elongated body with a silvery coloration and a distinct dark spot near their gills called an opercular spot. Their appearance may vary depending on factors such as age, habitat, and feeding habits.

Habitat and Feeding Behavior

Southern mulloway primarily inhabit estuaries, rivers, and coastal areas with sandy or muddy bottoms. They are often found near structures such as rock bars, bridges, jetties, and other submerged features. These fish are known to move between freshwater and saltwater environments, particularly during spawning periods. In estuaries, they can be located in deep holes, channels, and along drop-offs where they feed on a variety of prey, including fish, crustaceans, and other invertebrates.

 

Quick Tips for Mulloway Fishing Success

Times and tides for mulloway fishing:

Focus your fishing efforts during low light periods such as dawn and dusk when mulloway tend to be more active and responsive to lures. Additionally, fishing either side of tide changes, especially when there is a strong flow, can increase your chances of success. Tidal flow tends to concentrate bait around structure and eddies, so jewfish come to these areas to hunt. Often the high flow rates in the middle of the tide are too strong for fishing lures, but the slower flows near the turn of the tide are perfect. In many cases the bite can go quiet on the tide change when there’s not much water movement.

Mulloway Lures

Soft plastics and hard-body lures are the popular lure choices for mulloway fishing, though exact details vary depending on whether you’ll be fishing rocks, seawalls, estuaries and so on. Soft plastics that imitate baitfish, such as paddle-tail and curl-tail designs, rigged on a suitable jig head are great in natural colors like silver, white, and translucent shades. Consider using suspending or slow-sinking minnow-style hard-body lures that mimic injured or distressed fish. Diving depths of 1 to 3 meters are suitable for mulloway fishing even in deeper water at the ends of seawalls. Soft vibes are also popular and effective jewfish lures in the 90-100mm size range.

Experiment with different retrieve speeds, pauses, and variations to determine what triggers a strike. A slow and steady retrieve with occasional pauses can be very effective when fishing large hard body lures. Gentle lifts and hops can work very well with soft plastics and vibes. It’s worth checking out the interviews and show notes for ALF episodes that feature jewfish for lure and location specific advice.

Mulloway Fishing Tackle Selection

Mulloway are relatively clean fighters, so in areas where there are no hard structures to accidentally foul they can often be played out on very light gear. On the other hand, the tackle for fishing from ocean rocks and seawalls often needs be very heavy in order to cope with bigger fish and tough conditions. You can download our mulloway lures and tackle cheat sheet from this page. One thing that is common to all combos is the need for a quality reel equipped with a smooth drag system to handle the strong runs and bursts of these fish.

Mulloway Fishing Locations

Mulloway often congregate in deep holes, channel edges, drop-offs, and structure-rich areas like rock bars, bridge pylons, and jetties. However, they may not always be feeding in these areas and often come into the surf zone, headlands, eddies and shallow water to hunt. Estuary know that the fish distribute through an entire river system during the drier months when the salt water pushes up. But the prime mulloway fishing times are often after a big rain event, when fish congregate at the river mouths and feed madly on baitfish that are washed down. This is also a prime time to fish the foamy water at the end of seawalls. When fishing with lures at night the area beneath bridge lights is great place to find feeding mulloway.

Conservation and Ethical Fishing

Before going jewfish fishing, please familiarise yourself with relevant fishing regulations, catch limits, and size restrictions. Southern mulloway are particularly vulnerable to overfishing, and in many areas there are distinct signs that fish numbers and sizes are in decline.  Practice ethical fishing and conservation by releasing undersized fish, handling caught fish with care, and respecting the environment.

ALF Episodes About Mulloway Fishing

The ALF episodes below either focus 100% on how to catch mulloway using lures, or they have a significant component about targeting mulloway.

Fishing At Forster: 5 Top Spots With Local Gun Luke Austin

The fishing at Forster – Tuncurry is superb, all year round with numerous options for land-based and boating anglers alike. Luke Austin has lived there all his life and shares some great spots for visiting anglers and locals alike.

  • Lure fishing for mulloway is one of the most challenging sportfishing opportunities for southern anglers. It’s a species that takes some dedication and commitment to crack, but it’s also a very rewarding fish to catch.
  • Mulloway fishing isn’t just an after dark pursuit. Nearly all of my ALF podcast guests catch the majority of their fish during daylight hours.
  • The majority of lure caught mulloway are taken in estuary systems, but targeting them in bays, or land-based from seawalls or ocean rocks is also effective.
  • Many top anglers have noted that once active mulloway are located they are usually not fussy about what lure you put in front of them.
  • Tides can be important. Mulloway fishing can be productive on most tides, but where, and how, you fish for them may vary.
  • The southern mulloway is found from around Canarvon in Western Australia around the south of the country and up the east coast as far as the Mary River.
  • Mulloway are slow growing, maturing at around 5-6 years and living up to 40 years. For this reason, most lure fishing for mulloway is catch and release.
  • They’re opportunistic predators and feed on a variety of prey including fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods. Their love of squid, sandworms and prawns is legendary.
  • Those who have done a bit of mulloway fishing will have heard the croaking sound they make whilst being handled. They make this by grinding their pharyngeal teeth together.
  • Mulloway have an eye adaptation called the Tapetum Lucidum, which gives them better vision than most fish when the light is dim or the water is murky.
  • Hard bodied diving lures are particularly effective when mulloway fishing from rock walls when rivers are in flood
  • Soft plastic jerkbaits and paddletails can be deadly in most environments, with larger lures used on seawalls and rock ledges and smaller ones more typically used in bays and estuaries.
  • Soft prawns are effective in a range of environments, but particularly when jewfish fishing estuaries around new moons when natural prawns are active.
  • Soft Vibes are consistently effective, especially in deeper water or where there is more current flow.
  • Metal blades, jointed swimbaits and metal slow pitch jigs are also effective mulloway lures at times.
The Five Best Fishing Spots In Sydney With Luke Kay

The Five Best Fishing Spots In Sydney With Luke Kay

The greater Sydney area has no shortage of fishing opportunities for lure tossers, as today’s guest Luke Kay shares in this interview. From the bays and estuaries to the ocean rocks, Luke takes us through where he likes to go in search of fish.

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Episode 549: Northern NSW Land-Based Jewfish With Josh Annand

Episode 549: Northern NSW Land-Based Jewfish With Josh Annand

The NSW Northern coastline is a superb destination for a great many prized fishing species, but few are so revered as the jewfish. Definitely one the country’s more challenging fish species on lures, it’s understandable that many keen jewfish anglers guard their knowledge closely. Today’s guest Josh Annand isn’t one of those though. He came onboard the ALF podcast to share what he’s learned about targeting jewfish on lures from the stones – and he didn’t hold back.

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Discover the Best Fishing Spots in Southeast Queensland this Spring

Discover the Best Fishing Spots in Southeast Queensland this Spring

For the boating angler, Southeast Queensland during spring is all about big snapper, quality jewfish, threadfin salmon, flathead and plenty more! Nabeel Issa is a multiple time ALF podcast guest and always has plenty of great info to share. Today he walks us through why spring is his favourite time to fish in SEQ and gives us the rundown on how, when and where.

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Episode 532: Top Brisbane Landbased Fishing Spots In Winter With Beau Rixon

Episode 532: Top Brisbane Landbased Fishing Spots In Winter With Beau Rixon

Brisbane offers an astonishing range of land based fishing options to suit anglers of all skill levels, ranging from the hunble flathead right through to tailor, squid, bass and jewfish. Local fishing tutor and land-based guide Beau Rixon spends a lot of time fishing the area from the shore and teaching others to do the same, so for today’s episode I invited Bea to jump onboard and share some of his favourite land based spots.

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Episode 152: St Georges Basin Jewfish With Dave Johnstone

Episode 152: St Georges Basin Jewfish With Dave Johnstone

Over the past 5 years fishing for jewfish in St Georges Basin has become very worthwhile, with the quality and quantity of fish increasing since netting ceased. Dave Johnstone is well know for his Basin fishing exploits and has put a lot of hours into figuring the jewfish out.

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Secrets Of Sydney Daylight Jewfish With Chris Cleaver

Secrets Of Sydney Daylight Jewfish With Chris Cleaver

Catching quality jewfish during the day in the highly pressured waters around Australia’s largest population centre has become an art for respected jewie specialist Chris Cleaver. In this episode Chris shares his secrets and dispels the misconceptions around finding and catching jewfish on lures.

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Episode 78: Hastings River Jewfish With Mark Saxon

Episode 78: Hastings River Jewfish With Mark Saxon

Mark Saxon is a gun estuary fishing guide in Northern New South Wales and the developer of Sax Scents. Mark has the local jewfish population well worked out. In this episode Mark shares his tips for bagging a decent Hastings River jewfish or two.

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Episode 51: NSW South Coast Jewfish With Steve Starling

Episode 51: NSW South Coast Jewfish With Steve Starling

Mulloway (Jewfish) are, as Starlo explains, a cryptic species. Few fishermen have them so wired that they can consistently catch this species on lures. Starlo is one who has worked hard at figuring mulloway out – and in this episode he explains the tips and tricks that have vastly improved his success on south coast mullys.

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