On mid-day on 1 November, the annual closed season for estuarine barramundi commenced in Queensland. This will be on-going until mid-day 1 February and I must say that I am having withdrawals already! I love catching salt water barra and there are thousands of anglers across the state who are in the same situation. Anglers can always get their barra fix by targeting stocked barramundi impoundments across the state, and heaven knows I love fishing the dams....however, at the moment I am having a ball chasing lutjanids like mangrove jack and fingermark in lieu of ole’ bucket mouth.
Whilst it’s true that mangrove jack and fingermark occupy the same habitat and structure as barra, simply downsizing your offering will largely avoid barra captures and focus more dominantly on the lutjanids. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule such as the “jelly bean theory” where large fish favour a smaller offering but this is usually during winter when they are sluggish and will feed opportunistically on smaller offerings as they pass. So, for the most part, downsizing your 100mm barra lures to 2 or 3 inch models will sway the bulk of strikes away from barra and more toward those with dog liked teeth and affectionately known as red devils.
Now being the summer months, the red devils are really out in force and should bite harder as it warms further. In fact, the build up to a late afternoon storm where the humidity elevates is a prime jack bite time. Do yourselves a favour and make the most of this, the more humid the better. Jacks love this stuff!
Also, not having a boat is not an excuse. I have caught way more jacks land-based than out of a boat. I guess it’s quite simple really, if you are land-based you are closer the structure where the bait is residing and the jacks are living. If you think about it....most of our major rivers have a descent rock bar or rock wall on them. If they don’t have a rock bar then they probably have a bridge or two crossing them. Bouncing small soft plastics down a rocky ledge or close to bridge pylons will soon find out if a jack is home. By-catch like cod is a common occurrence also.
Everybody you talk to will have made up their own mind on the appropriate rod and reel set up that best suits their local environment and themselves personally. Some people prefer to use short baitcasting combo’s as they are able to dictate terms to the fish a bit better with a shorter stiffer rod. They also have greater control over the accuracy of the cast. I find the Shimano Chronarch Ci4+ to be an excellent baitcast reel for jacks. It is light enough to cast all day due to it being from the Ci4 stable, and also has plenty of guts. Match this up with a medium to heavy baticast rod having a minimum weight of 3-6kg.
As I like to make long casts with my plastics to cover more water. I prefer to use a couple of 7 foot spin rods. I match one with a lovely little Shimano Stella 2500FI and the other with a Stella 3000FE. Some people may even opt for a 4000 size reel but I find the 2500 and 3000 sizes are ideal PLUS I do like to go light to get the bite, so that is why I run lightish braid at 10lb but up my leader to around 30lb. Of course Stella’s aren’t affordable to everyone so a Rarenium or Stradic Ci4 in similar sizes are awesome, especially when casting for a long duration. The Sustains go very well also.
Do yourselves a favour and don’t despair now that the salty barra are off limits. Think like a fish, make the best out of a situation and target a few thug jacks. Getting stitched up by a solid jack is not something you will forget easily, but I guess that’s why they call it fishing and not “catching” right. It’s the thrill of the hunt that keeps us coming back again and again.
Live It....Breathe It....