As an angler, it doesn't get much better than waking up early with perfect weather conditions and hitting the blue for some line peeling action. Unfortunately as most of us have experienced, those ideal days seem to fall perfectly on the days we have to drag ourselves out of bed and into the daily grind.
And when the weekend does eventually roll around wouldn't you know it, but the wind speed has tripled overnight and the swell makes you feel sea sick just looking at it.
What’s an angler supposed to do? There’s only so many fishing show reruns a fisho can watch!
Nevertheless, there are always options, even ones you may not have considered before…
Mangrove jack are well known in the fishing community as a popular saltwater target species and a good game fish, but did you know it is also a sweet water champion? On a choppy day when heading out to catch the big one just isn't an option, heading up the road a bit to the nearest freshwater stream is where you’re sure to find a mangrove jack nursery.
Juvenile jacks make their homes in the freshwater streams of Queensland waterways, however, these streams obviously need access to saltwater environments. Choose your waterway carefully and ensure the jacks will have an escape route.
When chasing juveniles, it’s a good idea to make sure that the location you choose has good access to the estuary further down in the system. You’ll find the juvenile jacks further into the fresh, making their homes in shallow holes, generally close to the banks where there are overhanging trees, snags and shrubbery to hide them from overhead predators. Juvenile jacks love smashing lures, are very active surface feeders and will feed on just about anything that hits the water.
When targeting sweet water jacks my tackle screams light gear. Starting with the rod you’ll want something short around the 6ft mark to make casting into those snags a little whippier and more accurate. A 2-4 kg weight rating on your rod is ideal for this type of fishing.
You’ll want a good spin reel that’s as equally light. I personally use a Stradic 1000 Ci4+. They are a great quality little reel, are very light and tough. Of course, any reel around this size will do the job.
The star of the show is the artificial presentation. It’s what the jack is going to see and want to eat. It’s also got to be able to withstand the sharp little teeth the jungle jacks come with. I cannot recommend Z-Man StreakZ Curly TailZ enough! Paired with the TT 1/16 or 1/12 finesse HeadlockZ series and you've got yourself a durable, life-like presentation that a jack won’t be able to resist. When I get into the thick of the rainforest I opt for the 4” ‘moodring’ coloured Curly Tailz. These purple little lures look very similar to a type of berry that falls from the rainforest canopy that little jacks love to snatch up.
Looking at your target species main food source, and picking lures that imitate them is a great way to increase your catch rates.
Whilst I do enjoy targeting the bigger saltwater jacks, there is something to be said for sweet water jacks. In either environment, they are a hard-hitting fish and they’re clever too. Heading straight for the closest snag as soon as they realise they've been duped into taking a lure, the fight is on! As long as you keep the tension up and guide them away from the snags you’re sure to land them.
There’s nothing that compares to the beautiful and vibrant markings on a juvenile jack. As the species ages and matures they loose their vibrant colour, markings and stripes they wear in infancy.
So next time you have the opportunity to target this very special species in the sweet water, give it a go! You will love it!Reads: 929