Report: The jewie that wasn’t

I WAS doing a boat test on a nicely rigged up Quintrex Renegade 520 (pictured right – see the February issue for full details) in the Shoalhaven River late last week. The test was with colleague and mate Allan Hansard, who runs the tackle industry and is also a heavy hitter in the world of fishing politics. Al had just bought himself a new boat and asked me to come along for its maiden voyage.

It was a top day and the tides were good for chasing estuary perch, one of my favourite species, in the tidal section of the Shoalhaven River. What better way to “test” a new boat than by going fishing in it?

We’d started getting a few fish around some large boulders not far from the Nowra bridge. My favourite technique in this area is to sink a lightly weighted plastic down the rock walls. You get plenty of EPs, plus bream, flatties, bass, tailor and even the odd blackfish. Plus there’s always a chance at a jewie …

I was using a new and very lifelike soft plastic prawn imitation from BCF’s Savage range, while Al and his son James used Squidgy Wrigglers. I made a cast adjacent to a half submerged rock and let the tiny prawn waft down in the current. I felt it get hit hard and then my 1-2kg custom built Samurai SP101-C bucked madly and 3lb braid spewed from the Quantum Exo 15 at a rate of knots.

This outfit, my favourite for ultra light lure fishing, has caught me plenty of bass, EPs, flatties and bream. But it soon became apparent that I was seriously under-gunned. The fish stripped half a spool of line before I managed to turn its head. It went deep and ploughed around, jerking the rod tip violently as it shook its head. I couldn’t get any line back and just had to hang on while exerting as much pressure as I dared.

I honestly didn’t know what I had on. It was obviously no EP, bass or bream. It was too fast for a big flattie. Could it be the jewie I’d always dreamt of? If so, why the hell did I have to hook it on the lightest outfit I own!

The fight went on for more than 30 minutes. At one stage the fish came up near the surface. All we could see in the greenish-brown water was a long shiny shape. “It’s gotta be a jewie,” Allan said, reaching for the net.

I was quietly confident that it was indeed a jewie – and a good one at that. I redlined the tackle, using whatever angling skills I have to exhaust and disorientate the fish without putting too much pressure on. As with all big fish hook ups, I worried about my knots. Had I spent the time ensuring my connections were perfect? Probably not … As the fight wore on I also began sweating about the hook pulling, the fish finding a rock, the leader rubbing through, my dodgy bloody knots …

Eventually the fish tired and I worked it to the surface. Instead of the gleaming flanks of a quality mulloway, I was greeted with the big yellow scales and whiskery gasping gob of an XOS carp.

I have to admit to being somewhat deflated … WTF had just happened? My lovely shiny jewie had somehow turned into a feral slimy pest …

We brought the fat mudsucker aboard where it bottomed out my 15lb Boga grips. I estimated the weight of the fish at between 18-20lbs and the length to be around 80-90cm.

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A disappointed Jim with what he thought was a jewie!

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The carp ate a 3.5 inch Savage Shrimp, a Danish lure being sold by BCF stores.

After grabbing a few snaps, the carp was humanely despatched and we left it to fertilise the riverbank. What the hell a freshwater fish was doing in the saltwater reaches of a coastal river is beyond me … I only hope it was an anomaly and that these introduced pests aren’t somehow genetically mutating to become tolerant of saltwater …

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In between catching some nice EPs and bass – and undesirables – Jim did a test on this new Quinnie 520 Renegade. See the February issue for details on this neat boat.

Interestingly, we saw four commercial net boats going up and down the river while we were fishing (we released all our fish apart from the carp). I couldn’t help but think that surely it would be better to pay the netters to wipe the carp out instead of letting them relentlessly mesh and haul the life from this and so many other great rivers?

While I remained disappointed about my PB jewie turning into a stinking carp, I was pretty happy about how well my ultra light combo handled such a large and powerful fish.

If I’m ever lucky enough to hook a jew on my little Samurai, I now know it should be able to handle it!

My knots worked out OK as well, which is a bonus …

Anyone else ever caught any carp in saltwater?

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