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Jacks fishing bar

Boris Arnov's Fish Florida Saltwater

Chapter 11, Jacks, Pg. 43


Natural Bait. Jacks feed on swimming fish and any small fish hooked through the back, in front of the dorsal fin or in any other way will work-jacks are not particular. In Panhandle bays in August and September large jack crevalle in the forty-pound range are customarily caught on big, live menhaden which are hooked through the nose, behind the dorsal fin, or just ahead of the anal fin. These are freelined or fished with a float. Sight schools of fish or chum with live menhaden that have been stunned before release by throwing them hard on the boat deck or the water's surface. For live-baiting, use 2'-3' of 30#-40# mono as a leader and attach it directly to the line with a double surgeon's knot or to a swivel with an improved clinch knot.

Artificial Bait. Of all the fishes in the sea, jack crevalle are the most cooperative when it comes to fishing with artificials. Anything from a 1/4 oz or larger fast-moving jig in white or yellow with or without a plastic tail, a noisy surface plug, an under-surface swimming plug, or a spoon will work; except for the largest and wisest jacks, it is unnecessary to use anything but artificials. Use a 20#-30# mono leader cut to a size that enables comfortable casting. When a jack comes up behind a lure, always speed it up and work the rod tip in hard jerks; they seem to love the chase and a slow-moving bait just doesn't excite them.

Fly. For these unsophisticated fish, the leader is not so critical. It can be around 6' with a 30# butt and a tippet of 8#-12# or lighter if you handle the fish delicately; large jacks surely deserve a 16# tippet. Fly selection is not too important: glass minnows, popping bugs, and a white Deceiver with Mylar tied into it will catch fish as will many other streamer-types. Just make certain that when a fish zeroes in on your fly, strip in rapidly.

CATCH FISH NOW! on Florida's East Coast by Mike Babbidge

Jack Crevalle, Pg. 159-160

The jack crevalle has a light olive back, greyish gold sides, and a yellowish belly. He is blunt-nosed and has a broad forked tail. There is a distinct black spot on each of his gill covers. The average weight of a jack is three to five pounds. But in August and September, schools of 30-40 pound fish can be found. The Florida record for the jack crevalle is 51 pounds.

PROVEN TACTICS. There are two basic ways to catch big jack crevalle. Live bait fishing using large (9-12 in) mullet is always a productive approach. Use a two to three foot leader of 30-40 test mono, a barrel swivel, and a 5/0 to 7/0 hook. A mullet can be hooked in a variety of locations, depending on what you want it to do. If you're fishing where there is a substantial current, hook him through the nose or just ahead of the dorsal fin. If you want him to swim down, hook him just behind the dorsal fin. And hook him just behind the anal fin towards the tail if you want him to swim away from you. Other good live baits include whatever is schooling where you (and the jacks) are. You can be assured that's why the hacks are there.

Lures are another effective approach for jack crevalle. They will hit almost any kind of top water plug, bucktail jig, plastic grub, or spoon. Surface chuggers probably provide the ultimate in catching excitement for this correctly named "bulldog of the sea." I've had great success for jacks to 33 pounds using a Zara Spook or the largest Cordell Spot in a black and silver finish.

  • When jacks are working mullet school, and there is any kind of seawall around, use it to your advantage. The jack's favorite feeding tactic is to pin the mullet against the wall. If you're in a boat, throw your lure or bait up tight against the wall. If you're on the wall, be sure to retrieve your bait or lure right up to your feet.
  • With most lures, a high-speed retrieve is usually the most productive. When you get a strike, however, don't try for an immediate hook set. Jacks frequently miss on the first pass, but will try again if their prey keeps moving.
  • If you're deep fishing white or yellow jigs for small or medium jacks in very hot or colder weather, slow your retrieve and exaggerate an up-down motion. You might also want to sweeten your jig with a bait strip or piece of shrimp.
  • Inshore, if you suspect big jacks are present, try a kingfish classic - a duster and cigar minnow combination. Troll fast and leave your rods in holders.

Regardless of whether you choose bait or lures, your reel should be loaded with at least 200 yards of at least 20-pound test line. Allow about an hour to bring in a 30 pounder and use a net to land the fish. Jack crevalle are not good eating so should be released to fight again.



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Last modified on 02/01/05.