Big jacks begin to stir
  |  First Published: October 2012

October is really the start of our Summer here. We did see the warming trend starting to show some signs of taking effect last month but it isn’t really until October that it starts to truly warm up.

The sun gets its head out a bit earlier and the water warms up noticeably. Fish like tailor and luderick will become a lot harder to find while bream, flatties, whiting and mangrove jacks will become more viable targets.

October can be a bit of a fickle month on the river because it is the changing of the seasons. Fishing sessions can be feasts or famines and you can have a cracking session one day followed by a very ordinary one the next.

It pays to put in the hard yards, though, as this will help you to get among the fish when the fishing is good and still be able to get a few when it is tough.

Look at it this way: They have to be in the river somewhere so all you need to do is find them.

Many of the larger mangrove jacks are caught early in the season and it seems they like to come out and play as soon as the temperature gets up.

Once that warmer water sets in the average size of the jacks that we catch on the Tweed will be around 40cm-50cm and then later on towards the end of the season we will again see those bigger fish start to dominate catches.

We still get the odd model over 50cm throughout Summer but it does seem that now is one of the better times to get a really big one.

Live-baiting, trolling or casting lures are all methods to target these prized sportfish. All tactics have one thing in common, though – be prepared to lose the odd fish because they are strong and know just where to bury your gear.

Live-baiting is probably the technique that will offer you the worst hook-up to land ratio because your bait is close to the structure and you generally have a bit of slack in your line. This means that when the jack hits it is already heading for its home by the time you come up tight on it.

When casting or trolling minnows you have a tight line to the fish so when it hits you have a split-second chance to turn its head and get it moving away from the structure.

Most battles with jacks are won or lost in the first couple of seconds and if you get them clear then keep driving the boat or cranking as fast as you can until the fish is well out in the open and away from any snags.

They are awesome fish and although they are great tucker, we try to release the majority of them to hopefully allow our kids the opportunity to catch them as well one day.

It’s interesting to see just how many we have caught, especially the larger models, that have had hooks in their mouths or bits of line protruding from them. These have obviously been hooked before and been released or broken free.


The offshore grounds can also be a bit tricky this month but, as in the river, there will be fish out there for those putting in the effort to find them.

The wider grounds still fish reasonably well if the current allows us to get out there.

Pearl perch are a good target species because they can move in to the 50-fathom reefs this month in reasonable numbers. They seem to move around a lot so it may take a fair bit of sounding around to find them out there. Once you find them, these tasty fish are well worth the effort.

Blue marlin and mahi mahi will be definite options on the shelf and if you keep an eye on the sea surface temperature graphs, you can get a good idea of when these wider grounds fire.

The blue marlin average 100kg-150kg with the odd bigger model so if you do come across one, make sure you have good gear and enjoy the fight.

All in all, October is another worthwhile month for us to get out there and get amongst them.

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