Sunday, January 30, 2011

Once plentiful jack crevalle are now in short supply

Kayak angler Walter Hamm of Sarasota, Fla., admires a jack crevalle

Jack crevalle used to be a constant on every fishing trip.

You might not catch snook, redfish or spotted seatrout, but you could always count on jack crevalle.

They’re a rare catch these days.

I remember looking out over Sarasota Bay several years ago and seeing several schools of jack crevalle attacking baitfish. They seemingly were everywhere.

Talk about a fish made for fly rod …

Jacks will hit a variety of flies. They’ll put up a great battle, no matter what size rod you’re using.

I remember a trip I made in March of 2006. I had an angler from Marietta, Ga., and the fishing wasn’t so hot. The wind was up and it was tough to fish. We caught a few ladyfish in the perimeter canal of Longboat Key. Late in the morning, the wind let up a little and we were able to get out into Sarasota Bay.

We anchored the kayaks, got out and waded. Wasn’t long before I saw a large wake heading our way. I looked around and didn’t see any boats, so I knew it was probably fish. But it was such a large wake that I had no clue what it was.

When the wake got to within casting range, I instructed m client to cast. He did. And so did I.

I hooked up immediately and knew I was into a really big fish. I could see the fish in the school and they were all jacks of 25 pounds or more. I handed the rod to my client and watched as he tried to fight the fish.

The big jack made a long run, and I wasn’t sure my client would be able to stop the fish. He finally did, but I knew he was in for a long battle.

Forty five minutes later, he had the big fish within 50 feet. But that’s when the line went limp. I figured the big jack had broken the line, but I was wrong. The hook on the jig had straightened.

I waded back to the kayak and grabbed another rod. This was a heavier rod with a topwater plug tied on.

I didn’t think the jacks would return. However, I looked down the bay and saw the wake again approaching. I pointed it out to my client and we were ready when it neared. We both cast into the school. Again, I hooked up.

I handed the rod to my guy and watched as the big jack took the line. I don’t think that fish even knew it was hooked. There was little we could do as we watched the line peel off the reel. We were too far from the kayaks. I told him to put all the pressure he could on the fish, but it was useless. Just before he lost all of the line, I instructed him to grab the spool, point the rod at the fish and hold on.

The line broke at the leader. We lost the plug, but saved 300 yards of line.

My client didn’t land either jack, but he was a happy camper. He’d never battled fish so large.

I don’t know if that will ever happen again?

I’m not sure why there are so few jacks around, but I’ve been told the commercial fishing industry is doing a number on them. The commercial guys have created some sort of market for them and apparently are wiping them off the face of the earth.

Jacks aren’t considered good to eat by most folks, so they’ll get not protection. The Coastal Conservation Association won’t go to bat for jacks. Nor will any other organization.

And that’s too bad. Jack crevalle are part of the chain. They’re also great fish to catch and release.

My clients didn’t catch a half dozen jacks last year.

I’m afraid we’ve lost them. I’m hoping it’s just a down cycle, but I’m probably wrong.

Let me know what you think? Are you catching lots of jacks? Is there a shortage in your area?

If you’re not catching them or seeing them like you used to, then start talking to your fishing buddies about it.

We need jacks. We can’t let them be netted to obliteration.


  1. I know this wont get posted but you sir should know at least a little something about the BS and lies you spread.
    Small Jacks under 5 lbs have been a food fish for many years and if they could have been "wiped out" by nets it would have happened 40 or 50 years ago,the small hand full now caught by the small nets these guys use just don't even count in the would of Fla fishing,do you people ever even stop to think about the millions killed in the freeze last year or red tides every year,no you don't because it was your precious snook that got ALL the attention.Now theres a fine exsample of a fishery that the recreational fishermen have took good care of in the last 54 years.Guess it's just easier to blame a few poor assed commercial fishermen like always.

  2. Lies?
    All I wrote is the the number of jacks is down compared with past years. What's wrong with that? Just because you net them and sell them doesn't make me wrong.
    And, if you'd open your eyes, I wrote it could be a down part of the cycle. But, as you wrote, commercials have been netting them for years.
    The numbers were down prior to the freeze.
    Please don't give me any more crap about the poor, self-serving, mornonic, egotistic commercial fishermen. We already know all about them.
    Now, go back into your hole.

  3. So you wrote a few lines to cover your ass about the bullshit you told. Who cares?! Jacks are all over the place. I caught a shit load of them every time I targeted them for fun. They don't always hang out on the flats and they don't always harass the baitfish so you could see them from a great distance. Know what to look for and you find them almost every time. Don't complaint because you can't get your client on any of popular fish and have to resort to the jacks. What's next? You'll start bitching about "pin fish" being wiped off the face of the earth? Now, maybe you should consider another occupation. What a joke!

  4. A little late for a post, but I still see a good amount by BlackPoint Marina for now but this might change further in the future by reckless,noobish fisherman who dont practice catch and release even to fish that are not past the size limit.