Jewies on Fly

Mulloway or Jewfish on fly has for many years been a bit like the holy grail for some fly fishers. Some people have lucked upon one, but there aren’t too many that have caught them consistently or by following a set pattern. You could call one capture a fluke, but a number of fish means you may have cracked the code if there is such a thing.

My first Mulloway on Fly – Early Cold morning, but no pain, no gain

There are a few misunderstandings that I will try to break in this article. The first one is that you will only get jewies at night. not 100% true, but you will get better fish and more shots at night than through the day.

The second one is that you need to be able to fly fish deep water to get them. Again not true and in fact most of my jewfish on fly were off or close to the surface. 

The third is that you need to throw big big, heavy, hard to cast flies. Again not true and I have caught jewies on flies from 1/0 clousers to 6/0 sculpted flies. 

Let’s start with a little background and also a big pat on the back to a true legend of jewfish on fly. The man that showed me and many others how to get their first jewie on fly, the one and only Big Bob Williams from West Gosford Bait and Tackle. Bob has fished for them for many many years and got me onto my first one more than 12 years ago. We have spent quite a few dark cold nights around bridges and wharves waiting and watching for the tell tale signs that the sliver ghosts were stalking their prey. From memory it took 3 trips to finally crack one, but the learning on each one was immense.  Bob has managed some amazing fish on the fly rod with quite a few over the 20kg mark, which is a huge achievement on a fly rod.

Since that first one I have managed quite a few on fly most of them sight cast to off the surface as they harassed the mullet in the rivers.  That’s the tell tale sign, especially at night. look for a splash or a few mullet suddenly jumping and it’s a reasonable bet that there is a jewfish on the chew nearby. Cast to the splashes and hope. 

A daytime Jewfish – caught sight casting as it hunted mullet close to the surface

The gear? Well if you are looking to get a serious fish then you will be looking at at least a 10 weight rod with a matching reel that has a good drag system, cos when you hook one it’s going to peel some line off you, especially once it get’s into the current. Now here’s the interesting part for most people. A floating line like the RIO Clouser or Outbound is the go. Remember the fish are feeding on mullet near the surface so you need to have your fly look like a mullet near the surface. I hear of a lot of people that use S6 fast sink lines thinking that the fish will be deep. That may be so through the day, but at night the fish become a little less shy. 

As is said earlier, key locations are around bridges, wharves, jetties etc and even better if they have lights on them that attract the baitfish and therefore the predators. it helps if there is a bit of depth near the bridge too. Run out tide seems to be the best as the fish will use the lee of the bridge or wharf and hide in the shadows. So cast to the shadow lines in order to find them. 

As for flies – as I said I have caught them on 1/0 clousers, but to get the bigger fish you will need to match the hatch and that means mullet style flies that are about 6 – 8 inches long. Sparklebaits / bombers work well in dark colours as they look like the silhouette of a mullet and let off a little shine as the lights of the bridge hit them. EP Fibre flies also work well and are relatively light compared the flies we were using when I first started targeting jewfish.

I am not making out like this is easy fishing. There are many long fishless nights under our belts in pursuit of these monsters of the estuary – I probably should say early mornings as many a time it’s 3 or 4am before we hooked up. You have to be up for that challenge – you snooze you lose. 

Hamish Read with a deepwater Hawkesbury Jewfish

Now day time fishing for them is a slightly different prospect. you will occasionally find them feeding on the surface and I have caught them that way, but more often through the day they will be sitting deep. So an intermediate or fast sink line may be the way to go, but you will probably need to find them on your sounder to have a chance at getting one. look for holes that have bait or mullet present and then look for the arches underneath. The trick is getting the fly deep enough. I know the guys that use soft vibes on them in Lake Mac have good success in the deeper water so there is no reason you can’t get them that way. Big Bob has managed a few like that on the Hawkesbury over the years, but it does require patience and skill to be consistent. 

There you go a quick run down on jewies on fly. Hopefully that will give you enough to get started. Don’t forget the thermos 😉

Roy Browne with another early morning Jewfish.