Jack crevalle are one of the most underrated fish around. While it’s true that they aren’t the best table fare in the world (which is no doubt why they’re avoided by many anglers), few fish can match the jack’s freight-train-like strikes and dogged determination once solidly hooked. They smash topwater, eat just about any bait, willingly take spoons, and are spread widely throughout the Gulf Coast. You want to feel a serious tug? Try applying these jack-catching tips:
- Jacks are rarely targeted in specific and usually get hooked as bycatch. However, where there’s one, there’s almost always more. They school and act similarly to bluefish (the species are related) and quite regularly large numbers of fish of about the same size can be found shadowing shoals of bait. If you hook one by accident while using a technique that wouldn’t be normally used to target jacks (like fishing shrimp under a popping cork or putting cut bait on bottom), switch gears and try using a more appropriate tactic, like casting spoons or topwater plugs, in the same area asap.
- Jacks are attracted to commotion – just about any sort of commotion. Topwater plugs that gurgle, chug, and pop; spoons that wobble hard and send out vibrations; and live-bait chumming are great ways to get them excited. Even spraying the surface of the water with a washdown hose can get them fired up. Note: they often will swipe at and miss a fast-moving topwater plug. When this happens, keep up your retrieve and never stop or slow down. They’ll come back and take another shot, but only if you keep up the action.
- As is true with many predators, live bait is virtually impossible to beat when it comes to catching jacks. To speed up the hits, try clipping the lower half of the baitfish’s tail, or snip off a pectoral fin. This will get the baitfish struggling and swimming in tight circles, which drives the jack crevalle utterly insane.