Silently drifting along your favourite creek bank in the early morning gloom and its already hot and humid, the mozzies are out in force and there is not a breath of wind, but you’re oblivious to it all. Instead you’re concentrating on lobbing your offering into the darkness and the snapping jaws that are waiting.
Got the picture? It’s jack time. The mighty mangrove jack, the prize fighter and its thug-like tactics, are here!
Barra are off the cards now and we all cross our fingers for another great wet season like the last few years so our barra fishery flourishes.
Regardless of the a never-ending debate about whether to ‘target’ barra during closed season, according to the DPI website, “It is prohibited to deliberately target barramundi for catch and release during these closed seasons, as the stress of capture may prevent a fish from spawning.”
Nevertheless, anyone that lives in the north and fishes regularly will know that it is near impossible not to hook barra from time to time during the closed season, without ever trying to target them. The most important thing to do is make sure that you take utmost care in handling and releasing them. Barbless treble hooks on lures and leaving the fish in the water go hand-in-hand with a trouble free release. During the closed season you need to be smart and if you find a drain or snag full of barra leave them be and move on.
But who needs barra when we have the mighty mangrove jack? It hits hard, fights dirty and are out in force during these hot and humid months. They love structure, natural and man-made, which means pretty much everywhere is jack territory. Add to this their aggressive territorial nature and you pretty much have the perfect fish to chase.
Having a boat opens up endless areas but those on foot can also get among jacks; some of my most memorable jack sessions have been from the land. The rock walls along Dungeness Creek up from the boat ramp are just plain scary, add the floating pontoons and boats and you have a recipe for extreme fishing.
Jacks will eat nearly anything that swims, but for bait fishos small live mullet/sardines or prawns are the best. The best jack bites I’ve had have been on strips of fresh mullet – nothing fancy.
Lures are normally smaller than the average barra lure, around 5-7cm, and if using plastics go for 4-5” or smaller. The Z-Man range of shrimp and prawn imitations rigged on the hidden weight TT jigheads must be seen to be believed. Effective plastic fishing really is a never-ending art form, and a week recently fishing with some experts has blown my mind on what is possible.
Fishing deeper will get you amongst the fish, especially the trout. Hopefully everyone found some new rocks while trolling for mackerel in the 40m zone and the next few months is the time to try them out.
The rocks can fish well for nannygai during the night, and after the sun has risen the trout will come on the bite.
Using good flesh baits such as tuna or trevally and the ever humble pilchard will always attract fish. Down south every boat has a berley bucket attached and they use them with great results. It always amazed me that more people don’t use berley in the tropics. The right area and conditions will have good fish attracted to the back of the boat. Don’t over-do the tuna oil or the fish frames as it will only bring in the sharks.
The sugar loader jetty is open again after its makeover, thanks to Cyclone Yasi. The queenfish and GT have been eating us out of the boat and it is not uncommon to come home with a rather empty tackle box and better knot tying skills from constant re-rigging.
Recently we were dropping big 8” ZMan Streakz on heavy duty TT jigheads down the pylons and getting well and truly stretched out. We pretty much had to tie ourselves to the boat so we didn’t join them, and quick rod work and boat manoeuvrability was necessary to extract them.
Queenfish need to be released quickly and carefully for them to survive, they pretty much fight to complete exhaustion and leaving them in the water for release is a good idea. If taking photos of fish have everything ready for that quick photo before release.Reads: 769