Estuary Jewfish

by Brad "Smithy" Smith | Australian Lure Fishing

Tweed River Mangrove Jack Map
Brad Smith

Brad Smith

Fishing Guide & Journalist

Smithy operates the Gold Coast’s longest running guided fishing service, “Brad Smith Fishing Charters”, having operated for 25 years in 2019. Over this entire period his business has distinguished itself by being a lure fishing only operation. Brad frequently writes for Bush and Beach magazine and has made radio and television appearances as a fishing presenter.

Smithy’s Top Tips For Estuary Jewfish Fishing

  • Jewfish in this part of the world can be caught on any phase of the lunar cycle, but Smithy reckons the dark moon, 7 days after the full is prime time because the prawns mobilise and the jewfish consequently tend to feed freely.
  • The best bite windows occur around the turn of the tide and are just as accessible in broad daylight as after dark. It doesn’t matter whether the tide is changing from run in to run out or the opposite.
  • Discoloured water is another great indicator of good conditions for jewfish. Coloured water provides cover and jewfish will always be lurking in the dirtier water.
  • Jewfish are salinity sensitive and will follow the movement of salt through the system. In northern NSW and SE Queensland the winter months are drier and the salt can penetrate well upstream with the bigger tides. Jewfish will follow the salt up and can be found in the upper extent of the saline reaches.
  • During periods of heavy flooding and discolouration the salt will be flushed from the system and jewfish congregate downstream around the rock walls. In addition, jewies moving along the coast will often enter the river mouths at these times looking for food flushed down.
  • During the winter months in the middle to upper reaches of the rivers jewfish are invariably found in the deeper parts of the river, especially where bait have aggregated. Holes surrounded by rock bars or with a rocky bed are the prime locations and in the absence of bait Smithy targets the deepest part of the deepest holes. Jewfish favour creek and river systems with deep entrances, so skip the smaller creeks with their shallow bars and focus on the larger systems.
  • Jewfish don’t normally fight dirty, so be patient when using light gear. Play them gently and follow them with the boat and you’ll land most fish.
  • When releasing jewfish, move quickly from the spot where the fish was hooked and spear the fish back into the water. Fish released where they were hooked will often spook the rest of the school and kill off the bite.

Smithy’s Jewish Technique #1

  • Brad uses his “teabagging” technique with small metal blades to fish the deeper holes that others can’t fish using conventional jewfish techniques. The boat is positioned directly above the fish, lures are dropped vertically and fished by lifting the rod tip no more than 50cm, then allowing them to drop back to bottom. The drop is important because the lift attracts the fish, but the lure is always taken on the drop. Fish a light drag and play the fish carefully to avoid bustoffs or straightened hooks.
  • For teabagging jewfish braid uses bream rods with super thin 16lb braid with a short 10lb leader. He controls the boat with the main motor to ensure the line is vertical. Allowing the boat to drift will lift the lure off the bottom.
  • Brad finds that the sound of a motor or sounder doesn’t disturb jewfish too much, but you can use the electric motor if you prefer.
  • Suggested lures: Strikepro Cyber Vibe 40mm. Ecogear ZX40, TT Switchblade 40mm, Atomic Soft Vibe, smallest size Zerek Fish Traps.

Smithy’s Jewfish Technique #2

  • Brad loves trolling small, deep diving cod lures along the deep edges of rock walls of big rivers such as the Tweed, Richmond, Clarence and the Gold Coast Seaway.
  • Small Murray cod lures of around 100mm can be fished at depths of 6-10m, putting them well within the strike zone and pick up jewfish along with a by-catch of large mangrove jack, flathead and oversize bream.
  • Trolling with the tide is best when possible, but it’s important to fish slowly, so if the tide is too fast it may be necessary to troll against the tide. Troll well back, approximately 20m, keeping the rod perpendicular to the boat and the rod tip pointing down.
  • Brad uses standard barra, jack and snapper gear for this style of fishing. 8-10kg bait or spin cast rods, 20lb braid and a leader of 30lb fluorocarbon.
  • Downunder Boomerang and Oar Gee lures are good options, but there are plenty of aussie made options in store that stock cod gear.

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Brad’s Guiding Business

Brad Smith Fishing Charters specialises in teaching clients to catch the awesome range of species available in South East Queensland and northern New South Wales. Brad specialises in catching jewfish and big mangrove jacks, but can tailor a fishing package to your needs.

Brad’s Sponsors

  • Wilson Fishing Australia have supported Smithy’s fishing for many years and are the importers of many top brands
  • Stones Corner Marine and Humminbird Sounders support Smithy’s technology needs.
  • Juro Lures are the importers of Strike Pro lures brad uses for teabagging jewies.
  • Tackle Tactics are the importers of Switchblade Lures mentioned by Smithy in this episode.
  • JML Anglers Alliance import the Ecogear ZX40 blades Brad uses for teabagging jewfish.