There’s something seriously wrong when our fisheries managers call for public submissions to help save the mulloway (aka jewfish) while letting commercial fishers take big breeding specimens in their nets.
We’ve campaigned here before, but the beach-haul fishery on the north coast supposedly chasing sea mullet nets an awful lot of mature 20-30 kilogram female jewfish.
Boxes upon boxes of the fish are put through the fish co-operatives every year. The bycatch of beach-haul netters, some 500 kilograms allowed to each fisher annually, seems to be the target instead.
Meanwhile, you can see hundreds more dead juvenile jewfish floating on the surface after their prawn trawlers empty their nets around estuary mouths.
More than once I’ve seen a stream of dead jewfish float past on the Hawkesbury. These fish aren’t counted in the catch rates.
I’ve also watched a local pro pick boxes of school jewfish out of his gill net while moored at Brooklyn. Anglers, on the other hand, are allowed to keep only two fish over 70 centimetres in length and no more than five over 45 centimetres. To catch a big jewfish is no mean feat. It’s a measure of great skill and a pinnacle of one’s fishing career.
The Department of Primary Industries concedes that mulloway have been overfished and a recovery program is required to help rebuild the population to a sustainable level.
It’s asking anglers to have their say on mulloway. Doubtless we will be restricted some more, but what the DPI needs to do is look at unsustainable commercial fishing practices instead. The mulloway recovery web page links from fisheries.nsw.gov.au.
Our central coast stringer Scott Thorrington has been taking more big kingfish on the deep reefs on jigs and live baits. Line-snipping leatherjackets hunting in packs are proving costly, however.
Colleague Paul Minto was scoring snapper, morwong and flathead out wide before the wind came up. Reef fishing has been pretty good all the way south to the Hump near Stanwell Park. Aussie salmon schools are around the headlands and beaches, while big black drummer are patrolling the washes. Bread berley and bait will be their undoing. We also hear of a good early run of lobsters on the kelp beds.
Hawkesbury reports are rare, but there’s generally more talk of flathead and flounder in most estuaries. That said, it’s the luderick that is omnipresent, with some real thumpers about.
As if to prove as much, Harbour guide Stuart Reid had a cracker week on the luderick around the mouth of Middle Harbour and at Sow and Pigs. Middle Head is a better option for land-based anglers.
Rippling schools of Aussie salmon have been parked between The Heads, especially midweek, while trevally are holding in the deeper holes, including those in Botany Bay.
There have been some big whiting mooching around Manly and doubtless other harbour beaches.
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