Mangrove Jack are extreme adversaries capable of lightning-fast strikes and strong and violent runs for cover, providing sport fishermen with the ultimate fishing challenge. Their large and razor-sharp canine teeth and spines and powerful and aggressive fighting style leave most fishermen in the dust, so top class tackle, strong line and hair trigger reactions are a must when hunting down this fish.
Physical Description: Mangrove Jack have a similar body shape to Bream and strong, dog-like teeth. Young jacks are reddish-brown or copper coloured (becoming paler in reef waters), and often have a pearly mark in the centre of each scale.
Size: Mangrove Jack can grow to 10 kg but are most commonly caught between 1 and 3 kg.
Habitat: Mangrove Jack are present in both coastal estuarine and reef systems. Younger fish occupy estuaries and rivers to the extent of tidal influences, moving seaward when they reach about 3 kg in weight. Lower tidal estuaries are a great place to fish as Mangrove Jack take advantage of the available cover and food supply offered by mangrove systems. Indeed, cover is an essential part of Mangrove Jack territory so look for snags, submerged vegetation, roots, rocks, logs, rock walls, bridge pylons and jetties. Current is also important and can give an indication of a Jack’s presence. If the tide is flushing in or out schools of bait fish, Mangrove Jacks’ will, most probably, be in the area.
Hint! The best time to catch a Mangrove Jack is during summer at day or night, at the bottom of a tide or the start of a rising tide.
How to Catch:
Bait – when fishing for Mangrove Jack with D.O.A, you can include 3″ DOA ShadTails or 4″ DOA Shrimps (prawns) inserted with a glass rattle.
Rod and Reel -baitcaster rods are your best choice of gear for M.J. fishing because you have direct contact to feel the bite. Make sure your rod is short with a fine tip and heavy butt section for maximum control over the tough Jack. Remember the Jack hits for territorial reasons as well as food. When your lure move into the strike zone (right at its door and not the post box), the aggressive Jack can pick up the lure strike angrily and get hook or gulp the lure for food and dash back to cover. Whichever the reason, you got to be ready to strike at the feel of any slack of line as the Jack can also rush forward. Many times fishermen are not conscious of such a bite assuming always that the fish must pull away from them. If you use the D.O.A Shrimp, you will realise that the fish often ambush right at the edge of the rock wall just before you lift your line. You can also do a light drag/lifting of your soft plastic across the floor just to encounter the Jack. Occasionally, the Jack will be pissed at your lure coming into its area and immediately hitting at it, sometimes you will not hook them immediately, you should repeat the cast and visualise the lure coming into the same position and be “ambushed” once again. Remember the technique I mentioned that you should always “picture it” as you move your lure across the possible strike zones.
Line and Tackle – Line should be between 6-15 kg and sinker should be as light as possible or absent. A heavy trace is essential insurance against Jack cut-offs. Best hooks to use are 2/0 to 4/0 shortshank. Lures such as DOA ShadTails or the DOA Shrimps with inbuilt rattlers are best and should be trolled or cast near snags.
Hint! It is important to strike on the first bite otherwise they will bolt for the snags.