FIRST of all, happy New Year.
I hope everyone had a great Christmas and got out on the water to enjoy the warm weather. I have been fishing quite a lot over the past few months in the hope of catching mangrove jack. These fish can be extremely hard to catch and I hope the tips and insights in this article help you increase your success when targeting them.
Before I start talking about lures, spots and tides, I think it is important to let you know what gear I am using. The right gear will enable you to cast your lure into just the right spot, and more importantly let you stop the fish from busting you off.
I take four rods when I am heading out to try catching mangrove jack – two spin and two baitcast setups. The spin rods are Dobyns Sierra 10-20lb, 7’ sticks matched with Shimano Stradic FK 4000s. The baitcast rods are Dobyns Sierra 10-20lb 6’10” rods matched with Shimano Curado K 200 XGs. I run 30lb Platypus braid on all four combos. I really love the feel I get through the Dobyns rods. They have plenty of grunt but still a soft enough tip to cast smaller lures.
Usually I don’t get the opportunity to pick and choose exactly what day I go fishing, and sneak out between work when I can. But if I could choose a day, I would be looking for a nice warm minimum temperature and with a low tide around 7.30am. I have had a lot more success on the outgoing tide and find jacks feed more aggressively on such a tide. There are exceptions, such as the creeks off the Pumicestone Passage, as they are too shallow unless full of water.
Recently I have been focusing a lot of my time on my local river, the North Pine. It’s tough work catching mangrove jack in this river. They are few and far between, however, are still in there. The jacks in the Pine are some of the most brutal fish I have ever encountered. You have to work extremely hard to get them and they are so healthy and angry. I have been working the rock walls upstream from the junction at Castle Hill.
Using Entice 4” Paddlers, Z-Man DieZel MinnowZ and Lucky Craft 78XD Pointers, I cast tight into the structure and work my lure back. Hard-bodies have been the most successful for me this season, with the 78XD in Aurora Gold the standout. I also like to fish the stretch just upstream from the highway bridge, on the right as you are heading upstream. A small creek mouth here has quite a few snags just before and across it. I have had success here on an outgoing tide.
I have not only been fishing the Pine, but also the Caboolture River, the creeks off Pumicestone Passage and Baffle Creek. It is so important to put in the time and effort when targeting these fish. You have to work out when they are feeding, where they will feed and what they will feed on. Once you put all three of these pieces together, you can have some amazing sessions. I love nothing more than helping people catch their first jack and my mate Phil was lucky enough to land his first on a lure with me just before Christmas.
I hope the fishing gods are with you this year and the jacks play the game!