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Crevalle Jack Fishing

August 30th, 2016

jackfish Crevalle Jack Fishing

One of the most underrated fish on the Texas Gulf Coast

By Capt. Joe Kent

tarpon Crevalle Jack Fishing

Jacks are a common bycatch of tarpon fishermen.

Before we talk about crevalle jack, or jacks as they are more commonly called, let’s get an insight into tarpon, or silver kings as they are also known.  Tarpon are very popular game fish and we will be comparing them to crevalle jack.

The tarpon’s fight is among the best of any fish anywhere and anglers will spend hours trying to get a hook-up with a fish that many say resembles a shot in the dark to catch.

From Memorial Day until mid-October, tarpon roam the coastal waters not too far from the beach.  August and September are prime months for getting a hook-up; however, the odds are not great unless you are using an experienced tarpon guide.  While the odds improve considerably with a guide even then the chances are on the tarpon’s side not to get caught.

Perfect water conditions and select baits are a must and once you land one of the big fish it has to be quickly released as they are under the catch and release rules.

Unless it is one of the scales you are after or a 100-pound plus fish for the resume, then try fishing for crevalle jack.

Crevalle jack are caught in all sizes along the coastal waters and have many of the same traits as tarpon.  Both fish offer poor table fare; however, while tarpon (except for one over 85 inches) must be released, jacks can be retained with no bag or size limits. The tarpon exception is to allow for a new state record tarpon to be set.

Jacks are found in a much wider area than tarpon, as the larger of the silver kings confine themselves to the Gulf waters.  Jacks can be found in the inland bays as well.  Fighting ability is an understatement for both fish, as both are known as ferocious fighters.  Just ask any surf fisherman who had his reel stripped of line by a fast attacking jack.

Tarpon require clear or green water with light winds and slight seas for increasing the odds of a hook-up.  Jacks on the other hand are not as particular and are caught in lesser quality water under almost all conditions, especially favoring the same type of water in which reds and specks thrive.

Tarpon fishermen frequently hook up with jacks while drifting their baits for the prized silver kings.  While the jack may present a comparable fight, it is usually disappointing to the tarpon angler when he see what is on the other end of the line.

Certain select baits are required for a good chance at enticing a tarpon while a variety of baits from live to natural to cut baits work on jacks.

Jacks, like tarpon, are most likely going to be caught near the surface so for that reason drift lines tend to work best.  The best baits are those used for any pelagic fish offshore. Sardines, ribbonfish, shad and strips of bonito are among the best baits.

During periods of nice conditions in the surf, meaning light winds and seas, beachgoers and surf fishermen will see schools of jacks attack pods of mullet in the surf.

If this article stimulates your interest in catching a jack, here are a few tips that will enhance your chances.  The jetties, especially out from the rocks rather than in close, are where they are likely to roam.  All along the beachfront, from near shore to eight miles or so out, also offers good opportunities.

One of my favorite spots to find jacks is near anchored and working shrimp boats within 8 to 10 miles from shore.

Once you hook a jack you will not forget it and any angler that has caught a few can tell right away when one is on the line as soon as it strikes.  When the strike occurs, the reel starts spinning and newcomers learn quickly not to put their thumb on the spooling line.

If big time action is what you are after, go for the jacks.

Texas Offshore Fishing in a Smaller Boat

July 1st, 2014

mahimah Texas Offshore Fishing in a Smaller Boat

Look for dorado under weed mats and floating debris.

Prime Time to Take Your Smaller Boat Offshore

shrimpboat 300x225 Texas Offshore Fishing in a Smaller Boat

Shrimp boats can inspire a frenzy of fish activity.

By Capt. Joe Kent

There are many anglers with boats capable of making offshore trips during periods of good weather; however, a large percentage of them are apprehensive about venturing beyond the jetties.  July and August probably are the two best months of the year for the smaller boats to make a Texas offshore fishing trip.

Barring an event in the Gulf, the weather is the most stable of the year and the winds tend to be lighter on average than most months. Just about every pelagic fish that visits the Texas Coast is within easy range of smaller boats with limited fuel capacity during July and August.

The conditions are good and the fish are there, so what is keeping you from making that first trip to battle a king mackerel, ling, Spanish mackerel, shark or Dorado?  For me, it was a lack of information on where to go, how to fish and what equipment would be needed.  Sure, the big boys with boats over 30 feet in length knew all of that stuff; however, for us bay fishermen with smaller boats we just did not know a king fish rig from a bottom rig.

In sharing some of my first experiences and frustrations with you, it is hoped that you will learn some of the basics of offshore fishing and, if your boat is suitable for a run of 10 to 15 miles out, you will give it a try.

JoeKentBonito

My first trip into the new world of offshore fishing came in late June of 1972.
The first big issue was preparing my boat for the trip.  We had all of the safety equipment required and a C.B. Radio for so-called ship to shore communication.  Several extra six-gallon tanks of gas were on board and we had a good compass.

Extra water was carried along and a good first aid kit.

While all of that was necessary, the one thing we did not think about was extra anchor rope.  Anchoring in 50 to 70 feet of water requires much more rope than at 12-foot depths.

Our biggest mistake was in the fishing equipment we chose.  Our tackle was too heavy.  We took “broom-stick” rods equipped with large reels filled with 80-pound test line.  After all we were fishing offshore and the fish are big and require heavy equipment.  That is not the case for the near shore waters.

Bait and riggings were the next big mistake.  We only had bottom rigs typically used for red snapper and squid and cut mullet were the baits we brought along.

When we anchored at a spot 10 miles out of Freeport called the Middle Bank, other small boats were fishing there also, some trolling others anchored.  We were close enough to other boats that we could see their fish and all were having a field day catching kings, bonito and sharks.   Our bottom rigs produced hard heads, small snapper and lot of other bottom feeders.
Little did we know that the action came from baits floating near the surface?

After that trip we started becoming knowledgeable about how to fish offshore and here are some tips to help you with your first trip.

First and foremost is safety.  Keep a close eye on the weather and if potentially threatening conditions are in the forecast, reschedule your trip.  There are a lot of days during July and August that are excellent for heading offshore in a smaller boat.

Next equally as important is the condition of your boat.  Regardless of size, is it seaworthy, does it have the proper safety equipment and fuel capacity?  As a general rule you should carry 30 percent more fuel than you estimate using for your trip.

Type I PFDs are a must also.

Now, let’s concentrate on the fishing.  If you have not been offshore before, it is quite different from inshore fishing.  A good trout rod will suffice if the reel can handle 20 to 30-pound test line.

Kingfish are common offshore. Drift a ribbonfish or sardine rigged on a wire leader to find them.

Kingfish are common offshore. Drift a ribbonfish or sardine rigged on a wire leader to find them.

Wire and coated wire leaders with either single 6/0 to 8/0 hooks baited with fin fish or two to three hooks for ribbon fish are needed.  Weights are used only if the current is so strong that the bait stays on top of the water.  Ideally the baits consisting of sardines, ice fish, cigar minnows or ribbon fish should be suspended just below the surface.

A gaff and a club are needed as a landing net will not work for kings and many other surface fish.

Areas within 10 to 12 miles that are best for newcomers are the wells and platforms.  One of the best ways to fish them is to motor up to the platform and drop your baited line overboard.  As your boat drifts away, the bait will stay just below the surface. Be prepared for a vicious hit as kings and other surface fish don’t nibble but usually strike hard at your bait.

When you gaff your fish, use a club or other blunt instrument to stun the fish by hitting it in the head.  This makes it easier to place the fish in the ice chest and avoids your catch flopping around on the floor of the boat and avoids damage to your equipment.

From mid-July on, anchored shrimp boats also are excellent spots to drift using the same technique as drifting surface structure.

Once you get a trip or two under your belt, other techniques will surface such as trolling baits or bottom fishing.  For the first trip or two, stick to drift fishing wells, platforms and anchored shrimp boats as other methods and techniques will catch your attention as you progress in offshore fishing.