Recently, while cruising Treasure Coast beaches looking for tasty Cobia, I was telling friends and colleagues, Sharon and Justin, that by February big schools of jumbo jack crevalle will gather along the beaches and on the nearshore reefs.
“Call me when they get here," Sharon said. "Those things fight so hard and I want to catch a really big one.”
“I'll be happy to crack a cold one and watch you do some work for once,” I told her.
Yep, I got a dirty look. She’s about as hard working and competitive as any angler I know. But anyone who picks a fight with Jack, no matter how seasoned, strong or determined you are as angler, will have to go the distance, blow for blow.
Small- to medium-sized jacks are abundant statewide in salt and brackish water. I’ve even caught a few in Lake Okeechobee. They’re a hardy fish that can tolerate a wide variety of temperatures, habitats and salinity levels. But if you want to target this thug of a fish, here four top places and times to go looking for trouble:
Treasure Coast Beaches: Late January through June, jumbo jacks school up and “daisy chain” just outside the surf line from Jupiter through Sebastian. This circular swimming behavior seems social and not about feeding. The fish can be spooky, so you need to lead the school with a plug, fly or live bait a bit, as you would casting at a school of daisy-chaining tarpon.
Palm Beach County Seawalls: During the mullet run, which takes place in late September and October, jumbo jacks corral this highly important forage fish against structures. Anglers fishing live mullet against the walls in West Palm Beach, or casting flies and lures close and parallel to the walls, will witness explosions of monstrous proportions. The big jacks also stack up in the Palm Beach Inlet during the winter.
For Pierce Inlet: During the mullet run, and during the winter and early spring, the schools of mature fish also crash baits and/or daisy chain in and around the Fort Pierce Inlet jetties and adjacent seawalls. Don’t forget to look on the reefs north of the inlet either.
Sebastian Inlet: When pier fishermen hook into these giants, you sometimes hear a sigh of resignation, that says, “I’m going to be here awhile.” Catching a 25-pound-plus jack from shore or any fixed position requires a strong back and determination. Whether you’re fishing from shore or from a boat, the structures in and around Sebastian Inlet attract huge jacks during the fall mullet run, and throughout the spring. Start working out now!