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Fishing Report: Jack fishing saga begins. 19/11/2010



Have I missed something -like when did the craze about vampires and werewolves start ? My wife indulged in this saga called ‘Twilight’ and now she has a new obsession called ‘True Blood’ which she claims is better shopping (maybe that’s stretching it).  My brother-in-law argued that ‘Buffy’ was the original and best for flesh-biting action, but I’m still not enticed.  

Honestly I think the ultimate experience for all those gore-lovers out there, is not a Hollywood series on flesh-biting humans, but the furious blood-bath expected after luring in a mangrove jack with a poor unsuspecting live herring or poddy mullet.  That experience you will remember for a lifetime, long after this immortal creature craze is over!

Mangrove jack season is synonymous with afternoon summer storms and hot, humid days that seem to be getting earlier and earlier each year.  These conditions will have the jacks on the prowl seeking out their next victim throughout the Sunshine Coast estuaries.

The past weeks we have also seen schools of herring boiling on the surface and moving up and down the local rivers with the tide. These herring are at the bottom of the food chain and will whet the appetite of most big predators and along with small mullet and river prawns which make up the majority of a Jack’s diet. Jacks are completely carnivorous and are also known for their cannibalistic ways - way better than watching the chomping down on some unsuspecting person’s neck.


These fish are as comfortable around snaggy environments as I am with a fishing rod in my hands. Their favourite habitats include rocky structures, bridge pylons, and fallen trees, under pontoons, deep holes and, as adults, inshore reefs. Mangrove jack are drawn to these habitats as they provide great shelters and they can easily ambush prey or your bait with a vicious swift attack as it passes by their territory and lair. They will then dart back in to the deep coverage with the unsuspecting fish or when they become hooked, and this is when angler's lines tend to snap as they rub against the usually abrasive surfaces.  Mangrove jacks are getting caught in their usual haunts. These include: 

  • Noosa: Noosa Sound, Woods Bay, Weyba Creek (where bait prawns love to hang), the Gympie Terrace stretch and in between Lake Cootharaba and Cooroibah.
  • Maroochy: Eudlo Creek, Petrie Creek, Coolum Creek and around the Cane Train Bridge near Dunethin rock.
  • Mooloolaba: Kawana Waters, the channel that runs under McKenzie's Bridge, Mountain Creek and the middle to upper reach of the Mooloolah River.
  • Caloundra: The top end of Currimundi Lake, Pelican Waters Canals, around the pylons of the Boardwalk and the upper reaches of Bells and Coochin Creek.



Live bait is generally the best, due to the appeal of a moving prey. Poddy mullet, diver whiting, prawns, gar, herring and hardy heads are all good locally found Jack food.  Lures work well too - some of the best hard bodied lures include; the RMG Scorpion 68, gold Bombers and the silver Berkley Frenzy minnow. Soft plastics are very affective for jacks also because such a large surface area is covered with repetitive casting and retrieving.  Four inch Powerbait minnows, three inch Atomic prongs and Gulp five inch Jerk minnows have had local success.



You need durable rigs to withstand the enormous fighting power. A strong reel with solid, yet smooth drag is needed to pull these fish in. The rod must have the ability to be fully loaded and then some. As a general rule I use 10kg mono or similar strength in braid, with a 40-60lb high abrasion resistant leader. Use a small ball sinker when there isn't much run in the tide and increase the size as the tide speed increases. Use a running rig with a strong chemically sharpened suicide/octopus style hooks to suit the bait size - generally 3/0 to 5/0 hooks are ample.


Dawn, dusk, the turn of the tide and overnight are all good times for jack fishing. Overnight is when jacks tend to wander away from their territory in search of food, so the odds of success are greater overnight.


So surely I have dangled enough fresh bait now to entice you away from the TV and into some real True Blood action – a twilight fishing session chasing mangrove jack!



Noosa: A few snapper, pearl perch, moses perch and a Wahoo was taken from North reef. Whiting and Flathead between the mouth and the first cutting. Tailor at the river mouth on the high tide. Large numbers of big flathead have been caught and released around the lower reaches . Mangrove jacks in both Lake Cooroibah and Cootharaba.


Maroochydore: Mangrove jacks between the Bli Bli bridge and Eudlo creek on live bait. Bream and the odd tailor from Cotton tree in the mornings. Good numbers of  trevally up in the Maroochy waters canals and the cod hole. Whiting in the lower reaches. Quality catches of bream from the Cod Hole at night.  Mud crabs up to 1.3kg in the creeks and above Bli Bli bridge.


Kawana: Pearl perch, rosy job fish and snapper from the banks. Parrot and sweetlip off the rocks at Point Cartwright. Dart, whiting and flathead along Kawana beach . Mangrove jacks in the canals and in the upper reaches. Bream, trevally and a few sand crabs from the La Balsa park stretch.  


Caloundra:  Sweetlip and School mackerel from Currimundi. Snapper and sweetlip off the coffee rocks early in the morning. Flathead and mangrove jack from military jetty overnight. Whiting from the power boat club and in front of the Gemini towers. Jewfish and trevally in Pelican waters canals at night. Queenfish and a few trevally from the Boardwalk on live bait.



Peter Batey fishes with live poddy mullet or herring in the Maroochy River around good structure for jacks to 50cm.



Tate Keys was working 4 inch soft plastics hard against structure in search of mangrove jacks when this 70cm jew took him by surprise. The fish was released after this photo was taken.



Charter boats are a great way to get out amongst some quality reef fish with Barry Wilson catching this red emperor out at the 12 mile aboard Flat dog charters.

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