Jewfish Session of a Lifetime

Passionate Lowrance user and experienced fishing guide Mark Bargenquest recounts a session of a lifetime on the biggest school of black jewfish he has ever seen.

Every now and then something amazing happens when you’re out fishing. There are times when something different gets the blood pumping. With the recent invention of side imaging sonar, we see to see this on the sounder screen more than ever.

Recently on a ‘guides day off’, Alan ‘Fish’ Philiskirk, myself from “Fish’s Fly and Sportfishing Charters”, and visiting friend Greg Livingstone went for a fish off our township of Weipa in FNQ. The day started like most others, a few queenies, tuna and a nice Spaniard, typical for up here and we already have a successful day!

Deciding to look for something different, we had a plan to run offshore and look for a few fingermarks, trevally and jewies. Little did we know what we were about to discover. Pushing the big Honda powered hooker up to 3800 rpm we settled on a comfortable cruise of 25 knots and settled in for a run 20 miles over to the other side of the bay.

Plenty of chat on tackle, electronics, fish etc was the norm and the occasional glance at the sounder as guides we get used to keeping an eye on outboard gauges displayed on the side of the big 12 inch screen run through the NMEA 2000 interface feature. This feature alone is gold!

I always run my HDS-12 Gen3 on SideScan when travelling as the Lowrance picks up patches of reef and lone rocks even at 30 knots. With a quick finger on the touchscreen, I have them marked for future reference, even if they are 120 feet to the side in 30 feet of water. This feature has caught me hundreds of good fish and certainly has my chart page full of interesting marks!

I glanced at the sounder and was momentarily puzzled by the rice grain sized flecks from almost top to bottom I had just run over. I pulled off the plane and spun around, backtracked and here it was again, obviously a massive school of something below us. The images I saw reminded me of barra when I zoomed in, but out here in the middle of the bay?

Three plastics went over the side for an immediate triple hookup and it was the biggest school of black jew that any of us had ever seen. There must have been over 1000 fish it was ridiculous, the next hour was mayhem. Hooking and releasing fish, then losing the school only to SideScan them up again. Many of the jewies were barely 20 feet below the surface and released well.

Anything that we dropped down got eaten so I had to try a saltwater fly, rigging the 10 weight I sunk a big chartreuse deceiver down and it happened, a 115 cm black jew on fly what a fish of a lifetime! We finally had enough and left them biting, amazingly next day at the same location and same time we sounded the fish again at 25 knots. Fish and Greg both getting their black jew on fly. Fish’s was on his birthday and we sang happy birthday as he fought the fish to the surface, a fitting end to some amazing action that was only possible thanks to Lowrance HDS!

Mark Bargenquest

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