How To Catch Black Jewfish (Protonibea diacanthus)
Where to fish
Black Jewfish are commonly caught in northern waters of Australia. They can be caught in a range of different habitats from the top of an estuary to the mouth, headlands and offshore wrecks and reefs. Its usually best fishing for these fish in the colder months when they begin to school up in large schools.
Night time is the best time to target black jew.
How to target
Black Jewfish are very similar to there relative the mulloway, although mulloway have a very good reputation of being picky with what they eat. This isn’t the case with black jewfish. Black Jew are scavengers and predators. They are commonly caught on dead baits like pilchards, squid, prawns, fish fillets, whole fish, etc. While they do readily take dead baits it still pays to remember that fresh is best.
Juvenile fish can be caught in estuaries and can easily be confused with other small jewfish like soapy jew and river jew in the estuaries. But once these fish start getting around legal size (75cm in QLD) they are easier to identify. Big black jew are occasionally found in the deep holes of estuaries, around rock bars and in the mouths of creeks.
Headlands and offshore is were you find the big fish ranging from 75cm to 150cm. You generally find them in the deeper areas although they still move around to shallower headlands and islands.
Generally 4 days before and after the full moon is best at night around the tide change. In saying that, 4 days before and after the new moon still produces some fish as well.
Black Jew aren’t just scavengers they are also aggressive predators that will attack a whole range of lures such as soft plastics, hard bodies and vibes. Working lures slow generally produces the best results.
You don’t always need heavy gear to stop big fish.
Rod & ReelYour outfit all depends on the size of the fish you intend to target and the structure you will be fishing. Generally 3000 to 5000 size reels with 15lb-30lb main line is a good all rounder matched with a rod to suit. If the terrain is tough then you might need to step it up to 50lb or even 60lb to put the breaks on and stop them from busting you off.
One of Coby’s black jew being measured for our tournaments.
Line and leaderYour line and leader also depends on the size of fish and structure. Black jewfish can be a dirty fighter around structure so 40-80lb leader may be needed. The have sharp conical teeth that can go through lighter material especially during a longer fight, so it’s best to use abrasion resistant leaders like fluorocarbon.
Liam Pascoe with a large black jew.
Soft plastics large and small all work, especially the big flick baits and curtails. Just work them slow in the one area, this will attract the fish to the area.
Vibes from about 40mm and up can also be used to great effect. They cover the whole water column and can be used to search out the area very quickly. Slow rolls, big lifts and draws work well as does just slowly hopping the lure straight up and down under the boat.
Coby’s dad Liam with a cracking black jew on stickbait.
Black Jew are not too fussy so baits of all types can be used. Just remember that fresh is best.
Baits such as qquid, tuna, mullet, fish heads and pilchards are all good baits.
Hints and tips
Winter time is your best time to find these fish as they are usually schooled up and are bigger fish especially off headlands and wrecks. Concentrate your time during night time around the full moon on tide changes.
Make use of your electronics and sound around an area for a while to find were the bait is located. There may not be fish there yet but they wont be far away.
Keep an eye on your sounder at all times as black jew show up very well on sounders because of there large size and big swim bladder.
Use different techniques, especially if there is more than one person. Whether you are anchored, drifting or have an electric it still pays to have a bait out the back while using lures.
Don’t be scared to go big in lures! Especially at night time big is better and it does not worry these fish. Work them slow too. Big vibes slowly jigged under the boat works well.
Also usually were there is one there is more. Don’t expect to be able to release these fish as they suffer from barotrauma in depths of 8m or more, and will more than likely die. So only catch as many as you need, they aren’t very good eating except in curries and soups.
Coby with a prize-winning jew from our tournaments.
Rigging for bait fishing
Usually a paternoster rig will be good enough fitted with the right weight for the prevailing conditions, just make sure the hooks are large and strong 7/0 to 10/0 these fish have huge mouths and pull extremely hard.
If the current isn’t pushing to hard then a decent ball sinker sliding straight to a crane swivel attached to about 1.5m of good quality leader and hook wafting around with a large squid head or strip of tuna will entice them. See our Running Sinker Rig video as an example.
Paternoster rig. Note: you can make the lower breakaway or dropper length longer if needed.