Jack Hunting
  |  First Published: March 2011

This time of year is famous for seeing anglers chasing the elusive mangrove jack around the Gold Coast’s rock walls, canals and pontoons.

If you are like me you can say you have been smoked more times by a jack than actually landing one on the boat! The awesome power of the mangrove jack is addictive and once you have had a decent hook up and fought a jack long enough to know what they are about you will be coming back again and again.

Mangrove jack are an excellent sportfish and can be targeted effectively on bait and lures. If you prefer to fish bait, live bait is a good option, Herring, poddy mullet and gar are all good choices. These aggressive feeders also find a variety of strip baits hard to turn down and a fresh strip of mullet is a good starting point. When I bait fish I have a tendency to kick back and relax, but my advice is to keep your wits about you, dozing off is not an option! You need to be aware and ready otherwise it will already be too late!

If you want to get amongst jacks on lures you have hardbody lures and soft plastics to consider. Upgrading your trebles on hardbodies is recommended as lures straight from the packet often don’t have the hook strength required for these mighty fish. I have lost quite a few jacks only to find the hooks have been straightened.

I use Owner trebles to beef up my lures, but be careful as these hooks are super sharp! I recently had a trevally go nuts on me as I went to remove the hooks only to have the trevally drive the hooks into my finger: yeeooow!

If hard bodies are your weapon of choice you need to decide if you are going to cast and retrieve or troll; both are effective techniques. I have a good assortment of hardbody lures on board including poppers which present a deep blooping sound when retrieved.

Be sure you cast or troll your lures close to structure retrieving slowly with pauses. The jacks may bump then attack, or just smack your lure without warning. Be ready to pull the jacks out of the structure or their favourite hole as quickly as you can. If you have an electric motor you may want to use this to assist in getting the fish away from the structure.

If you prefer plastics, I have been using the new Z Man Swimmerz 6” with good success. They have a paddle tail and a very natural swimming action and are available in a good assortment of colours. Team a Swimmerz up with a TT Warhead Jighead, which is specifically designed for these lures, and you’re ready for action. The Warheads are lightly weighted worm hooks that secures the plastic very neatly. I will also be taking these with me to the No Blokes Barra Bash to try out on barra.

I have been using a Stradic 4000 reel locked up fairly tight with 20lb Fireline and 30lb Leader. The stick needs to have some grunt and be capable of pulling a freight train. I have been trying out the new Abu Garcia Veritas rod in 6” 6-10kg which I purchased as a barra trolling rod. These rods use Nano technology which give great strength without compromising weight.

Look for structure, snags, bridge pylons, break walls and be there as the day breaks and falls. A humid day that ends with a storm is ideal. Jacks seem to prefer a bit of current and I have found them to be less lively in slack water, match your tides to the ideal time of day and look for schools of bait nervously showering. Like I said in the opening I have lost more than I have caught so be prepared to lose some gear, but I can guarantee the thrill of the hook up to these explosive predators is worth it.

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