How To Catch Mangrove Jacks
Disclaimer: There are many ways to catch Mangrove Jacks depending on the area you are in. We are only sharing what has worked for us. Feel free to experiment.
How to Catch Mangrove Jacks
Welcome to our guide on how to catch Mangrove Jacks in Australia. As keen fishos we understand the thrill and excitement of targeting this elusive and formidable fish species. In this article, we will share with you our expert tips, techniques and strategies to help you maximise your chances of landing that prized Mangrove Jack. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner looking to tackle this exciting challenge our guide will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to succeed.
What is a Mangrove Jack
Before we dive into the techniques let’s get familiar with the Mangrove Jack (Lutjanus argentimaculatus). The Mangrove Jack is classified as a Nearshore/estuarine finfish and is renowned for its aggressive nature and powerful fighting abilities. Often confused with a Red Bass Mangrove Jacks are found in the tropical waters of Australia, particularly in mangrove-lined estuaries, rocky shorelines, tidal creeks and far offshore. Mangrove jacks have been recorded to grow over 100 cm in length, weigh over 15 kg and live for up to 40 years. Although the common size caught ranges from 1-3 kgs. The legal size for a Mangrove Jack differs between states. Western Australia has a minimum size limit of 30cm whereas Queensland and The Northern Territory have a minimum size of 35cm. Please make sure you understand the rules and regulations in your local area.
Western Australia bag and size limits
Queensland bag and size limits
Northern Territory bag and size limits
The Best Locations to Catch Mangrove Jack
To increase your chances of hooking a Mangrove Jack it’s crucial to target the right locations. A great tip to find a good location to fish for mangrove jacks is to visit an area you are planning to fish on the lowest tide possible. This will give you an idea of any structure such as rock piles, fallen trees and deeper holes in the area. Here are some prime areas where these fish are known to frequent:
Mangrove Jacks seek shelter and abundant food sources within the root systems of mangrove forests. Focus your efforts around the edges of mangrove-lined estuaries particularly during high tide when the fish venture out to feed.
Mangrove Jacks are often found lurking around rocky structures such as jetties, rock walls, and submerged boulders. These areas provide great cover for the fish and attract their prey, making them prime hunting grounds.
Shallow tidal creeks that connect mangrove systems to the open water are ideal spots to target Mangrove Jacks. These fish take advantage of the tidal movements to ambush baitfish and other prey. Look for deeper pockets of water with structure such as hard bottom or fallen trees. While you are in the area why not try to catch some mud crabs too with our How To Catch Mud Crabs guide.
Target drop-offs and reef edges, or patches of rubble with reefs close by. Wrecks are another hot spot for offshore jacks.
Essential Tackle and Equipment for Mangrove Jacks
To tackle the aggressive nature of Mangrove Jacks, you need the right gear. It is important to note the lighter the leader and hooks you use the greater the chances of getting a Mangrove Jack to take your bait or lure. But this also increases your chances of losing a fish once hooked so it is important to find the perfect balance between the tackle you are using. Here’s a breakdown of the tackle and equipment you should consider:
Rod and Reel
A medium to heavy-duty spinning or bait casting rod with fast action and sturdy construction is recommended. Pair it with a quality reel that offers a smooth drag system.
Use a braided fishing line with a high breaking strength around 30-50 lb (14-23 kg) test as it provides excellent sensitivity and durability. Add a fluorocarbon leader of about 30-40 lb (14-18 kg) test to reduce visibility and protect against abrasion. Our favourite fluorocarbon leader is YGK Slim & Strong Ultra Absorber Fluorocarbon Leader
We recommend using circle hooks in the 4/0 to 6/0 size range depending on the size of the bait you are using. Circle hooks are designed to hook the fish around its mouth and decrease the chance of gut or gill hooking the fish giving it a much greater chance of a good release.
Jacks are known to strike a variety of lures, including soft plastics, surface poppers, diving minnows and vibes. Experiment with different colours and sizes to find what works best in your target area. A general rule for lure colour selection is if the water is clear use more natural colours such as silver, grey and white. The dirtier the water the more vibrant to colour should be to allow the fish to see the lure better in the dirty water.
Techniques for Catching Mangrove Jack
Now that we have covered the basics let’s explore some tried and tested techniques to catch Mangrove Jacks
Live Bait Fishing:
One of the most effective methods for targeting Mangrove Jacks is using live bait. Popular choices include mullet, prawns and herring. Rig your live bait on a suitable hook and present it near structures such as large rocky areas, reef edges, fallen trees/ mangrove root systems and deeper holes that hold water on the lowest of tides.
Casting lures is an exciting and productive way to target Mangrove Jacks. Focus on imitating the local baitfish species in your area. Retrieve your lure with a combination of steady retrieves, pauses and occasional twitches to mimic wounded prey and trigger a strike.
Mangrove Jacks are notorious for their aggressive surface strikes. Topwater lures such as poppers and surface walkers can be highly effective, particularly during low-light conditions or when the fish are actively feeding near the surface.
Jigging and Soft Plastics:
Jigging with soft plastic lures, such as vibes and paddle tails can be a deadly technique for enticing Mangrove Jacks. Use a slow and erratic retrieve allowing the lure to sink and imitate injured or fleeing baitfish.
In conclusion, targeting Mangrove Jacks in Australia requires a combination of knowledge, skill, and patience. By understanding their behaviour, choosing the right locations and utilising effective techniques, you can significantly improve your chances of catching these awesome fish. Although Mangrove Jacks are known to be a great tasting fish we encourage catch and release especially with larger fish. These are the breeding fish that carry exponentially larger quantities of eggs and should be left alone to keep future fish stocks healthy. Remember to adhere to local fishing regulations and always respect the environment you fish in and only take what you need.
Make sure to have a look at our range of fishing shirts before your next Mangrove Jack fishing adventure.