Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been on the water, but I finally managed to get out in the boat with a mate to go on the search for some angry red estuary jacks.
The Elliot is a system I’ve never fished before, so it was good to be able to get the first glimpse of it with someone who had an intimate knowledge of the lay of the land…and when you know where to go, then it’s just a matter of getting your timing right.
…And timing is everything when it comes to fishing shallow crystal clear water for a keen sighted ambush predator like a mangrove jack.
The theory behind it is pretty simple. Get a small boat, head up the creeks, and flick a lure at any likely looking snag you can find! In honesty we probably spooked more jacks than we caught, but seeing them dart out of the snags looking for shelter made us even more determined to stick to the plan and land a few.
And the plan is as simple as the theory…get yourself in position early, as really, there’s only a very small time frame to effectively target them. The best time in this area seems to be the last couple of hours of the run out and the first couple of hours of the run in – and the reason behind that is all to do with the bait fish that the jacks are chasing, and the fact that the Elliot is a very shallow sandy system.
It’s a situation that can be applied to many if not most tropical creek systems, in that while the water is low and below the mud bank level and the tangle of mangrove roots, the bait fish have nowhere to go other than to roam the waters of the creek looking for a hiding place…and the jacks are lying there in wait for them. As soon as the waters of the making tide flood over the mud or sand ledge into the mass of tree roots, the bait fish can follow – and so do the predators – and the opportunity to target them is gone, so it really is a case of being in the right place at the right time.
Luckily, we were keen enough to get on the water early to meet the tidal conditions….and just mad enough to risk getting caught in some seriously skinny water… but it was all worth it! And we even found a few small barra as well!

Even small barra can give you a hard time in tight timber!


Mission accomplished! The jacks nearly got the better of us, but we eventually found them in numbers!


Exploring the Elliot