January Jewies
  |  First Published: December 2006

I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Christmas, and all the best for 2007. I have been asked to fill Jason Jesse’s spot and report each month on Karumba’s fishing. Let me introduce myself…

I grew up in Cairns in a commercial fishing family and have fished the local area for most of my life. After school I became a fishing guide and worked on the waters TNQ and streams and lakes of Alaska and Canada. After years of roaming around chasing fish and animals all over the globe I figured it was time to get a ‘real’ job. I currently work for Qld Boating and Fisheries Patrol as a field officer and am stationed here in Karumba. When it comes to fishing, I would put barramundi, coral trout, big fingermark, reds and nannies in my top five.

What’s been happening

December saw the return of the big 4m+ tides that make the water dirty and the current ferocious. This is not necessarily a bad thing – plenty of black jew and king salmon have being caught in the river and along the foreshore at the top and the bottom of these monster tides. Blue salmon and grunter have also been on the chew.

The fish are feeding well now so don’t be too fussy with your bait choices. Strip baits such as mullet and gar have been working very well. If you can’t throw a cast net don’t worry. Get yourself some decent-sized bait prawns and they will do the job just fine. Black jew and king salmon are suckers for big prawns.

Anglers who enjoy night fishing from the shore at the point have been rewarded with great catches of king salmon and big grunter. Anglers have been staying away from live baits due to the large numbers of barra feeding in the same areas, but they will readily take strip baits so expect a barra or two. Just remember they must be returned to the water and released unharmed.

2006 has been a different year for weather patterns as we all know and December has been no different. There has been very little storm activity in Karumba but we can only keep our fingers crossed for January.

What to expect

January should see much the same fishing with the possibility of a wet season to help things along. The main focus will be the big king salmon. As the water temperature exceeds the magic 30 mark the kings should start feeding right up in the shallows, chasing small school or jelly prawns. Try fishing from the top of the tide down as well as the bottom up. Don’t be too impatient as the kings often come on the bite well after the turn of a tide.

Black jew will still be around as will grunter. All barra must be released unharmed until the opening day on 26 January. We’ll get a bit more excited about barra next month.

Fish of the month

I am going to choose one species to talk about each month. The same fish might come up repeatedly throughout the year, but for good reason.

This month’s fish is the black jew.

Not only are they an exceptional table fish but they fight well and require a bit of planning which I find challenging. Black jew like to hang out in the deep holes and on what I call ‘humpy bumps’. These are several small or large mounds in a row (kind of like big speed bumps) on the riverbed that can easily be seen on your sounder. Like king salmon, black jew hold between these bumps and can be fished quite easily providing the current isn’t too strong.

They will eat strip baits such as mullet and gar as well as livies. I prefer to fish with a peeled prawns. 21-30s are perfect size. Use a big hook like a 7/0 or bigger and at least 40lb mono leader. Jewies have big mouths and will usually swallow the hook if it is too small. They’re not a very tough fish and can be easily damaged, so be careful when de-hooking and releasing under or over-sized fish.

Once you feel a bite, let it run for at least 3-5 seconds before setting the hook. Try the last few hours of the run-out and don’t worry about the size of the tide, you will catch good numbers of black jew on small and large tides. The bag limit for black jew in the Gulf is five per person. The size limit is 60-120cm and only two 1m+ fish can be kept.

Idiot of the Month

Jason made me promise that this section would go on! So, here we go.

This month’s award goes to the inconsiderate champions who decided to anchor right in the middle of a jew hole, even though there were 4-5 other boats there, swinging on one anchor making it impossible for all others to fish. Truly, how about showing a little courtesy to others. There is a reason why the rest of us are anchored up current and catching fish!

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