Port Douglas, Queensland (AUS)
Blackspotted croaker also know in Australia as black jewfish (Protonibea diacanthus) grow to lengths of 150 centimetres and weigh up to 45 kilograms. Their colour ranges from dark bronze to a salmon-brown on the upper section. Its sides are silver and have a yellowish underside.
Black jewfish are often confused with the Mulloway but can be told apart from them as black jewfish are generally much darker and have a narrower tail. They’re also known for making unique sounds. They prey on crustaceans and small fish. They’re interestingly predatorial as well as scavengers, giving them a wider range of possible techniques we can use to catch them. They’re known to be tough fighters and can be difficult to land once a bite is initiated.
Most black jewfish fishing is done on the northern shores of Australia. They’re commonly caught near wrecks, reefs, and other places of cover. When colder weather strikes, black jewfish begin to form schools, and this is the best time to fish for them.
Black jewfish are Indo-Pacific and are generally found on the northern and western shores of Australia, in the Pacific Islands, in the Persian Gulf and India, and as far north as Japan. Black jewfish feed near the bottom and can be found in waters as deep as 60 meters. They’re found in saltwater sources as well as tidal rivers. Black jewfish are also known to return annually to their spawning areas.
You should fish for black jewfish near dark and near a full moon. The best black jewfish fishing is done in the winter months.
Black jewfish can be caught on a variety of baits due to their ability to eat nearly anything that comes in its path. Dead bait varieties that can be used to catch black jewfish include pilchards, squid, prawns, and other fish. Even better than dead bait is live bait, such as young fish caught near where you’re fishing for black jewfish. The biggest black jewfish are sometimes found in deep pockets at the mouths of tidal rivers and near rock bars. But where you’ll have the best chances of catching large ones is in the deeper tidal waters, up to 60 meters.
Black jewfish are not the best-eating fish. They can be used in curry and soup, but other than that is not worth attempting to use in any dish. Furthermore, they are known to be prone to barotrauma, or pressure-related illness, if caught from depths greater than 8 meters. They often die from this, so be aware of how many you’re catching since it’s likely that they’ll die after being landed. If you choose to humanely kill the fish rather than toss it back only to probable death, you can use the ike jime method of inserting a spike into the hindbrain of the fish.
Limits for black jewfish follow general possession limits for Australian Northern Territory waters, which is 15 fish per person. Since jewfish are known to regularly die when caught, consider catching less than this limit unless there is a specific use for them.
Regulations vary by location, so make sure to stay up to date with the regulations in your area of fishing if you plan on fishing without a charter.