Jeff Wilton Fishing Bio

Jeff Wilton

North Queensland Jack Specialist

Jeff first started fishing the Hinchinbrook Channel as a kid on family holidays, but moved permanently to the area about 14 years ago. A sponsored angler, Jeff has been a regular columnist for Fishing Monthly for 5-6 years, has written for Tackle Tactics newsletter and has appeared on the “Hook, Line and Sinker” show, not to mention multiple episodes of “Creek To Coast”.

Jeff’s Tips For Hinchinbrook Mangrove Jacks Fishing!

  • Mangrove jack are not always associated with heavy structure such as large snags and rock bars. But jacks can also be found consistently in areas where mangrove roots are just dangling into the water and there is not a huge amount of structure beneath the surface.
  • It’s important to always be thinking about water currents. Mangrove jack will always position themselves where the currents bring food to them.
  • October to December is prime time for jacks because the water temp is increasing and the dry weather tends to mean the water is relatively clear.
  • Hinchinbrook Channel is a large expanse, so don’t make the mistake of spending all of your time travelling to find fish. Pick one or two small creeks and focus on figuring them out, starting by looking for bends, corners, snags and structure that sticks out and gets hit by currents. Jacks sit in ambush in these places.
  • A good way to start is to pick one creek and fish it from high tide through to low and back up to high tide. By spending whole days figuring out a system you’ll learn a lot about the way fish behave in that area.
  • A perfect day at Hinchinbrook is one with a low tide of around 1.2 and a high of around 2.2 to 2.4m. This provides the perfect depth of water where jacks are in the mangrove lined edges of creeks but are not so far back in the mangroves that it’s impossible to get a lure to them. A still, windless day and a big thunderstorm brewing in the afternoon would be the icing on the cake.
  • Jeff is a surface fishing addict, and catches jacks on surface from dawn until dusk most times, but admits that the low light periods around dawn and dusk fish better on topwater.
  • Make sure everything about your tackle is on point, especially using the light gear that Jeff recommends, you can’t afford any weaknesses. An FG knot to connect line to leader and a perfection loop to attach lure to leader is recommended. Make sure your drag is smooth and tackle is in good condition.
  • When a jack smashes your lure it can pay not to have everything locked up on full drag as the hit is savage and a bustoff could result. Using the longer rod, Jeff likes to go hard initially, trying to prevent the fish from turning its head – if you can dominate the fight for the first 5 seconds you’re in with a good chance.

Jeff’s Mangrove Jack Fishing Tackle

  • A 7’, 2-4 kg spin rod, 2500 to 3000 size reel loaded with 10-15 lb braid and 40lb leader allows lures to be cast long, skipped under structure and worked effectively. Whilst this might seem very light for jacks, it’s surprising how much pressure can be applied and the majority of fish can be landed on it.

Jeff’s Mangrove Jack Fishing Lures

  • An unweighted Z-Man Pop Frog rigged weedless on a 4/0 TT Lures Chinlockz hooks is very versatile and can be fished anywhere, but is especially great for casting over larger semi-sunken snags. It also skips pretty well for getting under structure. It can be worked with a steady retrieve on a medium to fast burn or as the name of the lure suggests, more slowly with a series of slow pops.
  • The Z-Man GOAT 3.5” rigged weedless on an unweighted 3/0 to 4/0 TT Lures Chinlocks hooks is super snag resistant, skips well into tight cover and is great for searching lots of water. Fished in much the same way as the frog.
  • A 3” Z-Man Minnowz rigged on a 1/12oz 3/0-4/0 Chinlockz hook is a good slack water lure or option for when the fish aren’t super aggressive. This lure skips well under cover and can be allowed to sink a little (or a lot) to get it down to the fish, then twitched enticingly to keep it in the zone for longer.

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Australian Bass Tackle Cheat Sheet
Episode 547: Fishing Around Exmouth In Spring With Steve Riley

Episode 547: Fishing Around Exmouth In Spring With Steve Riley

Every time I interview Steve Riley about fishing the Exmouth area I get blown away by the opportunities on offer, but I think this interview could be my favourite so far. Steve spills the beans on five land-based fishing spots that are available to visiting anglers during spring. In the course of the conversation we cover everything from bream and whiting to tuna, reef species and pelagics including monster GT from the beach. What a destination!

Episode 537: Hinchinbrook Winter Mangrove Jack With Adam Royle

Episode 537: Hinchinbrook Winter Mangrove Jack With Adam Royle

They might be considered a “warm-months” species, but Adam Royle fishes for Hinchinbrook mangrove jack right through the winter months with good success – even on topwater lures! In this episode he does a great job of explaining exactly how he achieves good catches of red dogs when the water is a little on the cooler side.

Mangrove jack lures


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