Mulloway (Jewfish) - Argyrosomus japonicas
Did you know? Mulloway is an indigenous Australian word that means "The greatest one".
Sustainability and stock status
Mulloway stock has stopped it's steep decline thanks to re-stocking and recovery programs, but Mulloway are another popular fish and have been hit hard by humans in the past. Estuaries are crucial to Mulloway because they are the nurseries for this species and therefore the key to a recovery.
Always adhere to the laws concerning bag and size limits and practice catch and release methods when applicable, especially with big fish.
As previously mentioned estuaries are prime real estate for Mulloway. But surf beaches, headlands, breakwalls and reefs are other frequent hangouts for adult Jewies. They can be found from the central Queensland coast, through the southern states and around to about the central coast of WA.
Biology, behavioural characteristics and time of year
Mulloway spawn just outside of the surf zone and in the lower reaches of estuaries. They can grow to 2 metres in length and 80kg in weight. They have shimmering silver sides and can have green / blue or bronze tinted backs. They have an elongated shape and their tail fin is rounded (convex). Mulloway also feature beautiful pearly white spots along their lateral line. They feed on small fish, squid and crustaceans and can be caught all year round with night time presenting the best opportunity to hook one.
Fishing gear and techniques
Mulloway can sometimes be a bycatch when fishing for other species like Bream but to target this species specifically, gear and technique will depend on where you try to catch one and what you want to use to do so. Mulloway will take a variety of baits from natural offerings like small fish, squid and beach worms to artificial lures like Jerkbaits, Soft Plastics, Vibration Lures and Flies.
Jewies love lurking around the mouth of rivers or inlets after good rain as food flushes out to the ocean. Best times are dawn, dusk and night. And always pay close attention to the tide when fishing for Mulloway. Many say the change of tide is a good time for this species and a rising tide when fishing on the beach.
A good surf rod of medium to heavy action with a 4000 to 6500 Baitrunner Spin reel or Sidecast reel are good options for the beach, rocks and breakwalls. Rig up with a running sinker and use circle hooks from 5/0 to 10/0 in size.
If you're using lures you can have a baitcaster set up, or my preference is a Spinning outfit with a medium to heavy action rod of 6'6" to 7'2" with a 3000 to 5000 sized spin reel. Use braid mainline of about 8 to 10kg and a 12 to 15kg fluorocarbon or monofilament leader.
Another thing you will need is patience.
Killing and cooking
Small Mulloway are called "soapies" due to their soapy textured flesh. My advice is release these fish. But if you want to keep a Jewie in the larger sizes then the iki jime technique is the most humane way to kill one. Mulloway are a good table quality fish and have a mild flavoured flesh. On the big sized fish you will get enough for a few feeds (depending on who or how many you're feeding) and fillets can be frozen in something like a zip lock bag for a couple months.
*Top photo courtesy of Graham Fifield.