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Time to crack a jack
  |  First Published: November 2007



November is a really good month on the Tweed; it has all the characteristics of Summer but the weather hasn’t quite got to that unbearably hot stage.

As the season progresses the mercury rises and the humidity sets in. Fortunately, the fish in the river respond well and get on the chew even better as the water heats up. This month marks the true start of Summer and the warm-water species should be well and truly on fire this month.

It’s now the time to get out on the Tweed and have a go at a mangrove jack before the crazy season starts and the river becomes a hive of activity. The best piece of equipment is a good alarm clock to get you fishing before daybreak. My poor wife hates Jack season because I am usually stumbling around in the dark looking for some piece of clothing while still half asleep. I do my best not to wake her (not that the alarm clock has anything to do with it!) but often fail.

It’s interesting how often I head back after a successful jack trip, only to be greeted at the boat ramp by other fishos just heading out to chase them. You will catch the odd one later in the day, usually in deeper water, but if you are keen to get them then get on the water early or stay late.

My favourite technique for targeting these prized estuary fish is to cast deep-diving hardbodies around various types of structure but other methods also account for their fair share. Trolling hardbodies, casting plastics or fishing livies are all good techniques.

Just remember that jack fishing is not for the faint-hearted so don’t give them an inch unless you are confident that there is nothing in the immediate area where they can bust you off.

They could be on any rock wall, bridge, pontoon or snag. For example, I fished pretty hard for jacks last Summer and at the end of the season I had caught only two at the same spot. All the others had come off different types of structure.

There were certain variables that were the same at most of these spots. One of them was current and the other was bait. If you find both and the structure has deep water fairly close by then your chances of catching a jack are pretty good.

OTHER TARGETS

Other popular species like whiting, flathead, trevally and bream are also on the cards.

Whiting on the flats will be a top option this month. The usual haunts around the piggery and the flats opposite the Fingal rock wall are good places to start, although the whiting further up river are also pretty good and you will usually find fewer boats. Yabbies and worms are the two most consistent producers and Angler’s Warehouse carries some quality worms, just pop in and grab a packet or two.

Bream are known as a Winter species but there are still good numbers in the river in Summer. One just needs to look farther up-river to find them in any numbers. The average size will be a bit smaller but they are still good fun.

The low light periods are the better times to be on the water when chasing trevally. As the water warms they become exceedingly active, chasing down baitfish at random. Wherever you find schools of herring or prawns in large concentrations are the spots to come back to at daybreak and sunset.

Any of the bridges on the Tweed are good starting points and seem to be consistent producers of trevally. If there aren’t any fish on the surface then it can be a simple case of dropping a heavily weighted soft plastic or chrome slug next to the bridge pylons and ripping it up off the bottom.

Try to use heavier spin gear for this type of fishing or expect to be donating plenty of lures to the fishing gods.

OFFSHORE

At the time of writing there were still quite a few good snapper being caught floatlining from the Mud Hole right out to the 50-fathom line. The current might be a bit strong for this type of fishing on the wider grounds so try to stay in the shallower water when chasing the big reds.

Soft plastics were still accounting of their fair share of these strong fish although the bigger models seem to have a habit of finding some piece of rock to blow you away on the lighter spin gear. It’s heart-in-the-mouth stuff and when you get a big knobby on a plastic it makes all the early starts worthwhile.

The pelagics should be just about in full swing by November with mackerel at Palm Beach Reef and small black marlin becoming serious targets. Dust off the trolling gear and get out there if you are keen to do battle with a few of these acrobats of the ocean.

Wahoo, mahi mahi and the tuna species usually make up the by catch-and keep the reels turning over.

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