NSW South Coast Jewfish

by Steve Starling | ALF

Tweed River Mangrove Jack Map

Starlo’s Top Tips For Mulloway On Lures

  • This episode focuses on the Clyde, Shoalhaven, Tuross Wagonga, Bega and Wonboyn systems in southern New South Wales.
  • Mulloway will take a wide range of well presented lures. The key is not so much finding the right lure or technique, but knowing when and where the fish will be feeding. When they’re feeding, they’re not difficult to hook, but when they’re resting they can be extremely frustrating and hard to tempt.
  • Mulloway often rest in different areas than where they feed. Figure out where mulloway go to feed rather than target resting fish that aren’t interested in your offerings.
  • The common belief that mulloway are a nocturnal species is a myth. They definitely can be caught at night but also feed freely during the daylight hours.
  • Don’t make the mistake of focusing all of your attention on the deep holes. Most of Starlo’s mulloway come from water less than five metres deep, with the 3-4 metre depth range being the most productive.
  • Mulloway are a year-round option in NSW South Coast Estuaries, but spring and autumn definitely fish better than summer and winter. For example, Starlo gets some of his best results in the Shoalhaven system during late August through to October. Further fishes better from November to December. Over summer is usually quiet (probably due to boat traffic) but there is a clear increase in activity from March/April through to late May.
  • The week leading to the new and full moons are Starlo’s preference, bringing big tides that encourage jewfish feeding. The periods around the tide change when the water is slower moving often fish best – but not the slack water periods, which tend to be tough times. Starlo also made the point that mulloway can be caught on any tide and there is a danger of reading too much into the bite window theory if we only fish when we expect they’ll be biting.
  • Finding mulloway is about finding bait, which can be bream, whiting and blackfish. However, tailor and estuary perch schools are especially attractive to mulloway. Often they’ll feed below on scraps dropped by the tailor above, then make the odd foray into the tailor school to grab bigger morsels. Watch for birds, surface commotion and other signs of schooling chopper tailor.
  • Tidal breaks are classic fish holding features in these estuaries, with mulloway often holding immediately behind rocky points, reefs and other structure, or sitting in the pressure waves in front of these features. This allows them to dart out into the currents and pick off baitfish that drift by.
  • In systems where there is strong tidal movement the fish tend to aggregate more tightly and the bite window tends to narrow down to a period around the turn of the tide. In systems where there is less tidal influence the fish tend to spread throughout the system more and the bite windows are much more extended.

Starlo’s Mulloway Fishing Tackle

  • A mid-range spinning rod and reel combo is a good choice for this species. Avoid cheap tackle, but there’s probably no need to go to the top shelf either- around $300-400 will set you up with a reasonable outfit. A decent quality flathead outfit can double as a jewfish setup – it’s amazing what size fish modern rods and reels can handle if you play the fish intelligently.
  • Starlo likes a 7 foot mid-weight spin rod such as a Shimano Revolution or Zodias in 8-20lb line class with a cast weight of 7-20g. He couples this with a 4000 size Stradic Ci4, Twin Power or Sustain reel and 10-20 lb braid, most commonly settling for 15lb.
  • Leaders are a challenge for mulloway fishing. Light leaders usually result in more bites, but this species can damage leaders with their raspy teeth. A fluorocarbon leader in the 15-30lb range is ideal – Starlo often chooses a 20lb fluorocarbon leader as a general purpose option.

Starlo’s Best Lures For Estuary Mulloway

  • The 100mm Squidgies fish in black and gold colour has accounted for more of Starlo’s lure caught mulloway than all other lures combined. He usually fishes these on 7-14 gram jig heads, depending on water depth and tidal currents. Occasionally he’ll need to size up to a 20g jig head if the tide is running harder. The idea is for the lure to have some “hang time” rather than just plummet to the bottom and get snagged.
  • The Squidgies Whip Bait in White Lightning colour is a great option when you’re fishing around schools of small tailor and estuary perch.
  • When the mulloway are resting in 6-8m of water and aren’t so actively feeding it can sometimes pay to drop a soft vibe (eg Jackall Transam) in fairly natural colours on their noses to try and stir some activity.
Steve Starling

Steve Starling

Fishing Journalist

Starlo is one of Australia’s best known and most prolific fishing writers, presenters and educators. He’s published numerous books and magazine articles as a journalist and editor, presented countless episodes for television and DVD, delivered stage presentations and radio shows and lobbied for rec fishers in political circles.

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best mulloway jewfish lures
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Starlo’s Sponsors

Shimano Australia  manufacturers of some of finest fishing tackle available, including Squidgy lures, which make up 3 of the 4 lures Starlo reaches for first when he’s chasing big flathead.

Mako Eyewear Australia is Starlo’s preferred brand of polarised sunglasses – vital for fishing estuaries, flats, in fact pretty much anywhere!

Navico supplies Starlo with the Lowrance sounders that are so critical to finding fish not only in estuaries but in rivers, lakes, coastal areas and offshore.

Mercury Marine imports Motorguide electric motors, Starlo’s preferred option for the stealth and ability to hold station in wind and current when chasing jewfish.