Mangrove Jack Tips

Mangrove Jack Tips

The fish know technically as Lutjanid argentimaculatus also has several local names, which comprises of mangrove snapper, red perch and dog bream. A closer relation is the red bass. Which is a known ciguatera toxin carrier and can be distinguished from the mangrove jack by a noticeable pit head of each eye? Red bass should never be eaten.

An alternative method of distinguishing among these two fish is their scales. The mangrove jack’s scales are fairly easily displaced and occasionally come away throughout rough treatment, however the scales of the red bass are very firmly set and are tough to displace.

The physique of the mangrove jack loosely resembles that of a bream, and its body colour differs from pastel pink to reddish brown and deep bronze, occasionally with perpendicular bars or a distinct dark centre to each scale.

The jack has a strong head a commanding tail and its chops are equipped with a remarkable set of doglike teeth, hence its loving name of dog bream in some parts.


Mangrove Creek/River Tenant


The mangrove jack can be located in estuaries, rivers and tidal creeks ranging from Sydney in NSW, up the Queensland coastline, transversely the Top End and down the Western Australian coast possibly as far as Perth. Nevertheless, the fish is particularly rare south of Coffs Harbour in the east and Carnavon in the west.

Stragglers have turned up as faraway south down the NSW coast as the Hawkesbury River and Wueenscliff Lagoon nearby Sydney.

Even though mainly a saltwater fish, the mangrove jack enters well up into freshwater areas. It is most at home in the mangrove-lined estuaries of tropical rivers. Its main environment is between the twisted mangrove roots and in the locality of submerged snags and rock bars.

Big specimens frequently travel offshore onto reef, where they are easily confused with toxic red bass.


Hungry Predators


The mangrove jack is among the best armed of all estuary and river pillagers. They attack their victim with a rapid eruption of speed from behind shelter, impaling their unlucky prey on pointed choppers while at the same time crushing them in potent jaws. It has been said that mangrove jack don’t bite, but strike exceptionally hard. When this occurs their king hit calls for reflexes and a certain extent of skill with one’s select tackle. Specialists also say that nothing with fins pulls quite as hard for its mass over a short distance as the members of the Lutjanid family. This assertion definitely applies to the mangrove jack. It has an nearly unrivaled strength to weight ratio, and an typical fish or about a kilogram can break line five or six times its own mass in a straight pull during that opening surge.

Strong Tackle Essential


The very composition of the fish and its predatory tactics requires durable tackle, and most specialists endorse line of not less than 5 kg breaking strain though some big specimens have been caught on light line in zones with favourable landscape. The mangrove jack is master of the surprise attack.

The jack’s attacking pattern entails a little dash from cover, a gritty strike at the bait, and then a quick withdrawal to the same cover; irrespective of whether it is hunting live bait, dead bait or a lure.

Since most jack fishing is done from a small vessel, rods should be fairly short, from about 1.5 to 2 meters. Most anglers opt for bait caster or the old egg beater reels. Excellent terminal tackle and traces are sensible to battle the mangrove jack’s vicious teeth. A 20kg mono-filament trace should be viewed as a minimum, while many northern anglers opt instead for fine eight strand or nylon coated wire traces.

Fishing Method

The peak period for jacks in northern waters is customarily regarded as the period from January to March or April. The best times in most localities happen throughout the last of the run out tide and the commencement of the run-in. The fish is no soft picker.  The first signs of a jack on the line can differ between a nerve-shattering blow to a steady tightening and great force on the line.

Directly after or even throughout its king hit the jack turns and heads for cover. This escape effort often means a snagged or cut line. The fish is a dominant, gritty warrior and the skirmish to keep it from initiating a bust off on shell covered mangroves is always intense. In open water, the fish is much less worry but just as powerful. There’s no scope for fancy techniques or angling finesse when controlling a jack nearby to cover, either you beat the fish with dogged skull dragging or you lose the match.


The mangrove jack is mainly a fish consumer and will at time accept virtually any kind of fish bait, but also responds well to crab baits, particularly the black fiddler crab which is found in mangrove terrain. Other proven baits comprise of live prawns, squid and octopus. The jack is often caught with baits of garfish and mullet arranged on ganged hooks. Though, fish baits may also result in a hook up of bream, grunter and other river species. Live baits of mullet and sardines often seem to take bigger specimens and are usually rigged on 3/0 or 4/0 hooks with a 20 to 40 kg mono-filament trace, and just the minimum sinker needed to get the bait down. In very snaggy areas, a flat rig is beneficial. Make sure the drag is pre-set and be wary not to put the rod down, many anglers have lost their complete outfit over the side of boat to a hard striking mangrove jack.

A typical method for bait fishing is to drift past an area of sunken logs or nearby deep water alongside mangroves using a bobber float, live bait and no slack line. In this approach, when the fish strikes, it can be immediately turned, controlled and disallowed from dashing for shelter.

Lure Location Important

Mangrove jack will willingly fall prey to a lure which bear a resemblance to a bait fish. Anglers along the north QLD coast have designed their own lures for jack with great triumph and many of these are patterned on the old ABU Killer, Heddon Tiger and numerous Nilsmasters and modern commercial products  such as Rapals.

Nevertheless, fruitful lure fishing seems to hang on the placement and presentation of the lure than its exact design. Lures should be cast as close to the snags or mangrove roots as you r casting skill will permit. If your line is not being hung-up frequently then you’re not casting close enough to snaggy terrain. Numerous passionate northern anglers think nothing of leaving the boat and swimming over to mangroves to dislodge their snagged lures and will keep a divers mask on board. This would be unwise in most areas, due to the occurrence of sharp toothed critters. In spite of all these efforts many lures are lost, just something you need to learn to deal with when chasing jacks.


Instant Retrieve


One of the best methods of lure fishing involves placing the lure correctly but then not allowing it to lie there for too long. In truth, the retrieve should start in the same split second as the lures strikes the surface of the water. This forces the jack to swim out away from the cover of  the snaggy in order to attack. This risk into to open water, however short-lived often means the difference between triumph and disappointment for the angler. There are even times when a fish will strike at the lure as it is being lifted from the water or as it enters more shallow water near a sandbank. Another technique which has attained results is to cast close to cover then retrieve with an irregular movement including a side swaying rod action. A side cast outfit with a garfish bait on ganged hooks is occasionally used in this example.

Landbased Threats


Landing a mangrove jack without care is playing with fire. Because of their sharp teeth, a hook-out or disgorger can often prove useful. Trying to unhook a jack with bare fingers could result in a horrid wound.

For Jacks, a landing net is far more effective than a gaff. The typical size of a mangrove jack taken in the creeks is about 1kg. Larger fish up to 2 kg are sometimes taken It appears that the fish lives in estuaries, rivers and tidal creeks until adulthood then moves to offshore reefs, where catches of specimens up to 10kg in weight have been documented. It has been suggested that these larger fish might sometimes return to the estuary to spawn, but no definite study has been conducted to validate this theory to date.


Prepare with Care


The mangrove jack is a pleasingly, sweet fleshed fish, though there can be a tendency towards dryness in bigger specimens. As with all fish, care taken after the fish has been taken will significantly increase its flavour. Directly after capture the jack should be executed and bled.  It should also be filleted as soon as possible. If practical, the fillets should be washed in salt water and put on ice until they can be cooked. It can often be problematic to accomplish these tasks when the fish are biting and there’s every chance of taking home a full bag. A good time in this instance is to place the live fish into a keep-net or mesh bag and dangle it over the side of the boat until the end of the fishing session. If an angler has any suspicions about distinguishing the mangrove jack from its close relative the toxic red bass. It’s best to play safe a release the fish. Likewise, there is some chance that very large jacks may occasionally carry concentrations of ciguatera toxin. Anglers should avoid eating fish over 4 or 5 kg in know ciguatera areas.


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