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Cameron Cronin

One windy and wet Monday afternoon I was sitting at home on the computer when I got the urge to get out and go jew (mulloway) fishing. I'm not sure why I did to be honest, I think it was a combination of a gut feeling and me wanting to get out and do something different. Within five minutes of making my decision I had already rigged up my favourite jewfish combo, a 2500 Daiwa Caldia loaded up with 15lb Power Pro on a 3-7kg Millerrod , with some 20lb fluorocarbon leader. To this I tied a ZMan 4" SwimmerZ on a TT Tournament Series 3/8oz 5/0H jighead. I didn't know it at the time, but this gear was about to produce the fish of a lifetime!

A little while later I stepped out into the cold, wearing every bit of wet weather gear I owned and made my way towards a deepish stretch of water I had previously identified while kayak fishing. I had a strong belief that if a big jewfish (mulloway) was anywhere in the area it would be there. After arriving at the beginning of the section I planned to fish, I fired out a few casts and was instantly rewarded with a few decent flathead and some small tailor, which is always a good indicator that bait is in the area. While catching these smaller fish kept me occupied for a while, I reminded myself not to lose sight of what I had set out to do in the first place. I packed up the gear and headed towards the deepest section of the bank which comprised of a fairly deep hole that, based on previous sessions, seemed to hold a few decent fish.

After a few casts straight out to towards the opposite bank, the wind picked up and I decided to shoot out a long cast at a 45 degree angle so that my line wouldn't get blown around as much. About halfway through the retrieve, I let the lure sink all the way to the bottom before imparting four quick hops to the little SwimmerZ, lifting the lure around three metres from the bottom. As the lure sank, I felt a tap. At first I was convinced it was just another small flathead, but then logic took over as I realised the lure was nowhere near the bottom at the time meaning it could be only one thing... a jewfish!

As soon as I set the hooks my suspicions were confirmed as the fish responded with a massive set of powerful runs. Thirty seconds later I glanced down at my spool only to find that backing was clearly in sight and the fish was showing no signs of slowing down... remember I am on a 2500 size reel! At this stage I increased the drag pressure on my little reel to around 5-6kg, finally stopping the fish in its tracks. With around 100m of line out, my next priority was to get the fish in close as quick as possible in case a boat came and drove across the line. Fortunately I was in luck as the fish then doubled back around and came straight back at me! Winding as fast as I could, I feared the worst for a few moments before I came back into contact with the fish as it changed direction once again.

Now the unseen beast decided to take another course of action, swimming parallel to the shore around twenty metres out, making the most of the remainder of its energy by beginning yet another series of powerful runs and headshakes, before it finally started to slow. Finally I started to gain line... only to have it taken back in a determined push back for open water. After around fifteen minutes of this I gradually managed to bring the fish close to shallower water. At this point all hell broke loose and the fish made a last ditch effort to escape with a run almost matching the opening one's power and distance.

By this stage though the fish had given its all and had nothing left. Slowly the spool started to fill up again. Within five minutes, I had the fish close enough to angle its head towards the surface of the water and see what had intercepted my SwimmerZ... a jewfish! As it thrashed across the surface its true size was revealed and a worrying thought came to mind, how was I going to land this thing?!

With my lip grips buried deep within my bag fifty metres away, the only option left was to beach it!  It was at this point that I began to shake from more than just the cold, there was no way I could let myself lose this fish! The next five minutes are a blur... all I remember is watching a massive dark shape, lit up by the silver dots of the lateral line enter knee deep water, before diving on top of the wildly thrashing jewfish! I had done it!

After dragging the fish up onto the bank and retrieving my lip grips I let out sigh of relief. At this stage it was clear that I had completed my long standing goal of landing a one metre jewfish (mulloway) on a lure, but how big would it actually go?  As I (with great difficulty) lifted the fish onto the brag mat, I almost pinched myself when I saw that the tail was a touch over the 140cm mark! YES!

Now all I had to do was swim the fish until it returned to full health and then somehow get a few pics. Fast forward fifteen minutes and it wasn't exactly going to plan. The fight seemed to have taken its toll on the behemoth jewfish and instead of improving as I swam it, the fishes condition was actually deteriorating! At this stage I knew deep down that this fish probably wouldn't live to swim again, but I didn't give up hope until I realised that it was now dark and the jewfish was so weak it couldn't even stay upright without my help.

With release no longer an option I was absolutely crushed but I knew I couldn't let it get to me and had to focus on the next task at hand. To cut a long story short, with no phone and nobody around, I couldn't contact anyone and after a few pointless attempts at self-timer pics (the fish was way too heavy to hold and get into place within the ten seconds) I decided to make the 1km trek, while dragging the fish behind me through the water, to a friend's waterfront apartment.

From there I called my family, who arrived just in time for a break in the rain long enough to accommodate a quick photo-shoot! A big thank you to everybody that helped out with the capture; my brother Mitchell Cronin for some awesome photography, Jonothan Overall for spending an hour in the bucketing rain helping with the fish and of course TT/ ZMan lures who supplied the gear that was the reason this awesome capture occurred in the first place... BRING IT ON!

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