Species Spiels: The black jewfish (Protonibea diacanthus), by Nick Martin
Common names: black jew, black mulloway, blotched jew, mulloway, northern mulloway, spotted croaker, spotted jew, spotted jewfish
Identifying features: The black jewfish is a large long-bodied fish. They are black to bronze colour on top with silvery sides and a yellow underbelly. They have dark pectoral, pelvic and anal fins. As a juvenile they have many black spots on the upper half of the body as well as the caudal fin. They derive the name black jewfish partly because are they are darker than their southern cousins the mulloway (Argyrosomus hololepidotus) but more so because they go a darker, blacker shade when they are dead.
Size and lifecycle: Black jewfish can grow to 150cm and tip the scales at over 40kgs. However, typically and average jew is between 8 to 12 kg and around the metre mark, making the fish 2-3 years of age. In terms of the lifecycle of a black jew relatively little is known. What we do know is that they aggregate to spawn in large numbers normally between September and December which corresponds to the build up to the wet season.
Diet: Black jewfish are opportunistic carnivores which will feed on a wide range of animals including squid, fish, octopus and crustaceans. Black jewfish are found in creek, river and estuarine systems as well as around off shore reefs and wrecks where they generally feed on the bottom around structure, drop-offs, deep holes and trenches.
Distribution: They black jewfish is a migratory species found in coastal waters throughout the Indo-west pacific including: India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, China, Japan and Australia. In Australia they are found from northern Queensland all the way around the top end to northern West Australia.
Fishing Qualities: Black jewfish make an excellent table fish. For tips on cooking black jewfish checkout our recipe section on our website.
Fishing techniques: Black jewfish are a schooling fish, and so are not a particularly hard fish to catch once the school of fish has been found. Finding the fish is the hard part and fisherman will defend their secret ‘jewy spot' with their life!
Black jew's are mainly caught through bait fishing, using either livebait such as mullet or deadbaits such as pilchards or squid. The live baits can be fished on a simple running sinker live bait rig, whilst deadbaits are generally fished on a paternoster rig just off the bottom.
It is important to use heavy tackle when fishing for black jew's as once hooked they will take a monumental first run which will be straight towards any structure which is nearby. I would suggest using leader and braided line with a breaking strain of at least 50lbs.
Black jew's are also often tempted by soft plastics. These plastics are to be worked in a similar fashion to when you are spinning for flathead ie.
1. cast the plastic out
2. let the plastic sink to the bottom
3. flick the plastic off the bottom
4. hope the fish strikes
5. let the Plastic sink
In terms of the soft plastic of choice i highly recommend to berkely 7 inch Jerkshad either camo or curried chicken in colour.
CAUTION!!! Black jewfish caught in depths of 10m+ are highly likely to suffer Barotrauma. In fact in a recent study 100% of black jews caught in depth over 15 metres suffered fatal injuries!!!
Sooooo...... Once you catch dinner move to a shallow spot or target another species.
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