Jacks party in Bundy!
  |  First Published: November 2015

November is traditionally mangrove jack month – a topic I have written about in this magazine for the past ten years. November sees the largest and most active ‘big red dogs’ or mangrove jack really come out to play around Bundaberg. A cult following for the popular jacks has grown over the years with many anglers trying their luck with this feisty species.

Anglers who are willing to put in the research and the time on the water usually end up practicing catch and release. The more damaging side of the coin is those anglers that are watching social media photos and reports and going out there to put as many as they can in the esky. Don’t get me wrong, fish are healthy and delicious, and I for one love a jack or two over the season on the table, but it’s those that take as many as they can that are doing irreversible harm to the fishery.

Another trend that really seems to be taking off through social media is the ‘photo thrust,’ where the fish is pushed right up at the camera with the angler’s fingers hidden under the fish to make a nice 40cm fish appear to be a much larger model. Catching a mangrove jack is a great experience whatever the size, so exaggerating their length really doesn’t need to occur– just enjoy the fact that you were out there and your hard work paid off. Take a snap with a smile on your face and the fish in the frame and you will get more anglers appreciating the shot.

Where and when?

The most common questions I’m asked when it comes to jack fishing is location and timing and really there is no straight answer. If you can choose exactly when you hit the water then you are one of a lucky few! As most of us have work and other responsibilities that inhibit our angling time and activities, we look to the weekends and the odd rostered day off. The key is to watch the weather and tides leading up to your chance to get on the water and to make the most of that time. A great time to find jack in our area is during the lead up to the new and full moons as the tides start to get bigger. The best time is often spot specific as, in some areas, the jacks feed in sections on the top of the tide and in some they will feed at the bottom. If you find them in a staging area you may be able to get them to bite at any stage of the tide.

My advice is to pick a river or creek you are willing to put some time in and fish it hard making sure you’re aware of your sounder to find those fish. Don’t just attempt to fish the Baffle from one end to the other in a day. There is so much fish holding structure throughout the system to explore you would not be able to cover all of it properly. Spend time in a few kilometres of the river and get yourself very familiar with it, look for back eddies, holes, snags and ledges – all of which will hold jacks at some time. Remember what you see and do can be repeated and if you manage to pull a couple of fish from a style of structure, the chances are that as you travel further you will find similar fish in similar environments. The best advice I can give on tangling with a big jack this month is get on the water, listen, look, and pay attention to your surroundings.

Don’t forget to enjoy your time fishing!

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