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Ben has been fishing the central coast of Western Australia since he was a kid, but has probably spent more time figuring out the jacks than most in the west where they’re spoiled for species to target. He reckons that mangrove jack fishing in those parts is hot all year round and is accessible from boat, kayak and even sometimes on foot.
Ben’s Mangrove Jack Fishing Tips
- The mangrove jack fishing is reasonable in the Exmouth marina and on the western side of the cape, but it’s the small creeks and inlets a couple of hundred kIlometres south at the southern end of the gulf that are overrun with quality jacks. The islands and reefs in the southern gulf also fish extremely well for this species.
- Jack fishing is a year-round option in the small creeks and inlets around southern end of Exmouth gulf. Ben finds them in the shadows tight against mangrove roots during summer when the water can get uncomfortably warm. During winter they can be found sunning themselves out of the shadows but still close to structure.
- Summer fishing is best on the first half of the runout tide. Ben likes to put a boat or kayak in the water when the tide is at 1.2m and rising. He moves up into the tributaries and fishes till the top of the tide, then fishes his way back down being sure to return to his launching place before getting trapped by a low tide.
- Winter fishing is less about tide and more about water temperature. It’s best in the afternoon when the water has had a chance to warm up, especially if a rising tide is flooding mud banks that have been exposed and warmed by the sun during the morning, which helps heat the incoming water.
- It’s important to work the lure all the way back to the boat or kayak. Although there are few mid-stream snags in these systems, jacks here are aggressive and often leave the fringing mangrove roots to hit a lure.
- A good strategy is to follow schools of mullet up the system as the mangrove jacks will also be following, or will be waiting in ambush.
- Look for gaps in the mangroves that might be only a foot or two wide and a couple of metres deep, then cast your lure as deep into these areas as you dare. Jacks will usually be holding there.
- Don’t give up if a jack manages to get you back into the mangrove roots. Ben often finds that they can be extracted by maintaining constant pressure and being persistent. pointing your rod at the fish and maintaining pressure is a last resort but often causes a fish to swim back out of the hole.
- Don’t forget the insect repellent as bities can be fierce in these areas, especially on still days.
- Around the rocky points and islands in the southern gulf the mangrove jacks can sometimes be schooled up smashing baitfish in a manner more often associated with trevally or queenfish than jacks.
Ben’s Mangrove Jack Fishing Tackle
- In the creeks and inlets Ben is using an Abu Garcia Volatile 702L Rod in the 2-4kg line class coupled with an Okuma Epixor reel, 20lb Berkley braid mainline and a 30-40lb Black Magic Fluorocarbon Leader.
- In the coastal areas and around the islands Ben likes to beef the gear up to cope with rocks and oysters. Here he uses his Penn Slammer reel, 8-10kg Penn Conflict rod, 30lb Berkley Braid and 60lb Black Magic fluorocarbon leader
Ben’s Best Mangrove Jack Fishing Lures
- The 14cm Rapala XSRLS Long Cast Sinking Stickbait is a surprising choice for jacks but is one of Ben’s go to lures around the rocky outcrops outside of the creeks. These lures can be fished with a slow twitch and pause style retrieve or can be worked briskly at constant speed.
- For inside the creeks around the mangroves the Jackson G-Control is an excellent slow sinking hard body lure. These can be allowed to flutter down the face of the mangroves and are then worked with short sharp jabs of the rod tip and a slow retrieve. Beware that jacks will sometimes grab them on the drop as they’re fluttering down.
- Jackson Muscle Shot 115mm sinking stickbaits are a great option for the creek and inlet mangrove jacks. These are worked at relative constant speed with the occasional twitch to stimulate a bite.
- For topwater, Ben likes the 45mm Halco Roosta Poppers get smacked pretty hard and work especially well at night around the Exmouth Marine.
- The Halco Twisty can be long cast from the beaches to reefs all around Exmouth and is a successful lure for jacks and plenty of other species.
Tackleworld is Australia’s best known tackle buying group, with family owned stores run by knowledgeable and passionate staff.
Penn Australia and New Zealand provide Aussie fishers with the rods and reels that Ben uses for mangrove jack fishing.
Black Magic are Ben’s favourite brand of terminals and their fluorocarbon leaders are tough and perfect for mangrove jack fishing.
Abu Garcia are manufactures of a range of quality fishing tackle, including the rods that Ben prefers for targeting jacks in the creeks.