The elusive Mangrove Jack…sought after by many in the northern reaches of Australia and an exciting prospect for any angler. When they hit, they aim to annihilate you around any structure close by. If you weren’t concentrating, you’ll be left with a sense of awe and your blood pumping, thinking what the heck did I just miss!?
They’re an incredible fish to look at. With their canine like teeth at the front, coupled with their tremendous electric blue line at the eye and an amber glow throughout the body. They really look the part for a top line predator.
I’m extremely lucky to live within an arm’s reach of some incredible Jack fishing, so in this spiel I hope to give some insight on how simple it can be to bait fish for Jacks!
What gear you need to target and catch Mangrove Jack…
I personally like to run a 7ft rod around 3kg to 7kg. With a reel size between 2500 to 4000. Jacks are known for maliciously attacking your bait and running for the nearest structures, so large line capacity isn’t needed. For monster Jacks 15lb – 30lb braid should do the job. The leader I use is usually 40lb Black Magic Fluorocarbon leader as I fish in thick mangroves lined with oysters, but in some more forgiving areas you could drop down to 20-30lb. The hooks I use are 3/0 Black Magic KL circles…they are truly great hooks that have to be experienced.
Good, quality tackle used in a simple way is key.
The best rig for Mangrove Jack fishing…
The beauty of fishing for Jacks is the rig is so simple. I simply use a running sinker straight to a KL 3/0 circle hook. The reason I do this is so the fish doesn’t feel the sinker as it picks up the bait. I usually like to keep a little slack in my line. So as the fish picks up the bait. I will see the line come under tension and will lift the rod tip gently to set the hook. The Black Magic KL hooks will find the corner of the fishes mouth at least 9 times out of 10 with this method.
A simple rig that works well for Jack fishing.
The best bait for Mangrove Jack fishing…
Local is best! If you’re fishing a creek laden with mangroves and you see garfish and mullet swimming around, your best bet is to source them for bait. When applying a bait to your hook it is of great importance to make sure the barb is exposed. If it’s embedded in the bait then it will most likely result in you not hooking up.
How to fish creeks for Mangrove Jacks…
First off, the tide has to be running! If the water is placid the jacks aren’t very active. I find both the run in and out going tides are equally productive. What I look for are bends in the creek that the water is pushing into. The Jacks will usually be sitting there waiting to ambush bait fish. Another thing you can look for is a drain. A drain is a gap between Mangrove bushes. They do tend to sit in numbers up drains. The best way to look for a drain is on a low tide. They become very visible on low tides as they can be sometimes the only places with water left up the bushes. I’ve caught Jacks on extremely low tides in these drains. My last visual clue you can look for is either a series of snags in the middle of a creek that water is pushing through, or a rock. The Jacks will be hiding behind these structures ready to ambush any unsuspecting bait fish. Another handy tip is to listen! You can hear Jacks inhaling bait fish sometimes deep up the mangroves. If you hear this kind of activity it’s definitely worth a cast at that bush.
Now get out there!
If you want to catch a solid Mangrove Jack, then get out there! Put in the time and effort. You will be rewarded! When you’ve cast your line in front of a suspect set of Mangrove bushes you’ll get annihilated! The Jack will be frantically trying to turn back to home and you’ll be doing your best to turn it around. Once you’ve landed one you’ll have a smile from ear to ear. You’ll be addicted…forever chasing that next big Jack hit!
Now you’ve read this, put your device down and get out there!
Good luck and tight lines!