The author loves chasing jacks.

Kolan River jack tips

Big or small, they all fight hard.
The author’s PB flathead of 78cm was a good surprise when trolling for jacks.

THE Kolan River on the north side of Bundaberg was and still is a fantastic river system. This river system is very close to where I grew up – one of the first places I got the bug for chasing mangrove jack and barramundi. Kolan jack

Head north towards Agnes Water from Bundaberg and turn off to Yandaran, then follow the signs to Miara Holiday Park. There are a couple of boat ramps, but this one is the most accessible, especially if you’re travelling through.

Miara is the mouth of the Kolan River and offers sandy beaches, shady trees, powered and unpowered sites, a cement boat ramp a short drive away and everything else camping by the river offers. I was working away for most of last year, as we have to do, but leading up to the Christmas period this year I was able to come home.Kolan jack

I worked way out west, carting cattle in double-decker triple road trains in the harshest country Australia has. This country can be lush and supports livestock very well during the wet season, and after the run-off water works its way down from the gulf, it turns the desert country into an amazing place full of life.

Spectacular scenery you couldn’t imagine. When it dries out however, times can get very tough, for stock as well as people. Even though this country can be so hard, it’s certainly well worth seeing, as is supporting and mixing with the residents of the smaller towns dotted through the outback country.Kolan jack

Put the outback on your bucket list of places to visit. Back to now though – after settling in back home, I headed to the Kolan for a few days of chasing mangrove jack. They are such a hard-fighting fish and can take you into the snags before you know you’re hooked up.

You have to be ready because it can happen so quickly. Typically, they’ll be hiding close to or in structure and at the right time will dart out, grab your lure and head straight back. When they grab your lure it’s usually after they’ve turned and are heading back into the snag, hence the quick hard takes.Kolan jack

The best times to chase them are ideally when they’re feeding and when the tide turns. I prefer the last of an outgoing tide and first of a run-in. Occasionally that means an early start or a late finish to the day, but if that’s not convenient, get out there when you can and find spots such as rock bars and overhanging timber with deeper water nearby.

Structure is where jack will hold – you need a bit of movement in the tide and keep pestering these areas. I troll for them initially because the lure will be at depth for longer than if casting. As the tide drops the lure will be closer to the bottom, which can be good.Kolan jack

If you’re snagging up too much, either swap to a shallower lure or move into deeper water. Stagger your track when trolling – it’s amazing what you’ll find – rock ledges or parts can get into the middle of creeks but never come out of the water, even with the lowest tide.

Mangrove jack can turn up anywhere, particularly when out hunting, but during feeding times they will hold close to structure. When you’ve trolled up and back enough and have worked out the lay of the land, you can sit out from the structure and pepper casts into and around the spots.Kolan jack

When jack aren’t hungry or not in a bite window, a lure jigged or slow rolled enough times right past his nose may be all it takes to hook up. Experiment with different lures and retrieves, and knowing an area well gives you a real advantage. Because these fish live around rocky areas and even timber country, you are probably going to get snagged at times, so having a good lure retriever is essential.Kolan jack

Snagging up can mean you are at least getting your lure into the right places. Watch the sounder and use a lure that’s going to work to that depth. Jack certainly are an exciting fish to target.

About Helen Abdy

Helen is presently working and fishing around Oz, enjoying our country and venturing abroad to fish some amazing places. She has experience in most aspects of fishing: tackle shop sales and working charter boats but fly fishing for saratoga is her favourite pastime. Feel free to contact Helen via email:

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