By Grayson Fong
Over my many years of fishing, I have caught several different species of fish in a number of different countries. Many of these fish were probably once in a lifetime experiences which will always stay etched in my memory bank, but over my years of light tackle fishing, I have endured ‘fish envy’ every time I see pictures of anglers holding up the infamous mangrove jack. After several attempts to target these estuary street fighters, I have only come away shaking my head in frustration trying to work out how to land one of these trophy fish. In the recent Gamakatsu Team Series Grand Final in Ballina NSW, I got my opportunity to redeem myself and finally put my name on the mangrove jack scoreboard.
While slow rolling 3″ Atomic Fat Grubs on a 1/11 Seekerz jig head along a rock wall, my 101 rod loaded up with anticipation of our first bream for the tournament, but this was no ordinary bream fight, with characteristic head shakes and one long first run, I called it for a big bream as I gained ground slowly until another powerful run had me doubting myself on the big bream call and I was certainly unsure what I had hooked. Much to my delight (and my team mate Craig Simmons called it right!!) up came my first mangrove jack. It was only a small model of the species, I really didn’t care as it was my first jack and it happened to be in a tournament!!
As I reside in Brisbane, Qld where many of the warm watered estuaries house mangrove jacks, it took me to travel south of the border into the cooler waters of northern NSW to land my first jack. Go figure!! Looking back on the fight, I have nothing but praise for the fast taper of my Samurai Reaction rod as at the time, I was only fishing with 4lb leader. The fish’s sporadic runs were nicely absorbed by the rod along with the bottom end strength allowed me to control the fight around the rocky terrain.
Now that the score is Jack 2 and Fong 1, I’m going to send a warning to all you mangrove jack out there terrorizing our estuaries, two words……don’t relax.
As the waters start to warm up and down the coast, start targeting these fish with live baits and hardbodies fished tight to structure. Hardbodies like the new Atomic Shiner range will be perfect for this task.