Prime muddies mangrove jack
Ryan Holdsworth landed this cracking mangrove jack on a live poddy mullet.

Prime time for muddies and mangrove jack

February is a great month to chase a feed of prawns and crabs. It is usually one of the hottest months of the year. Prime muddies mangrove jack

The constant rain we’ve been having all summer has kept the temperature low and the rivers and creeks discoloured. Prime muddies mangrove jack

This has forced fish and crabs to feed closer to river mouths and has made them a little easier to locate. Prime muddies mangrove jack

At the time of writing, prawns hadn’t made an appearance but by the time this edition hits the shelves, I’m sure there will be a few around.

Prime muddies mangrove jack
This mud crab was about as crusty as they get.

Mud crabs have still been very active.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of criminals out there checking and stealing pots.

I’ve been crabbing a lot recently and it’s rare that my pots haven’t been checked overnight.

And a few have also been stolen, which adds up when good pots are anywhere between $60-$100.

Fresh bait is key to success on crabs.

The water temperature is high at this time of year, particularly in shallower water such as in drains and creeks.

This causes the bait to stink after a short period of time.

Mangrove jack have been quite active too.

To their advantage, they’ve been using the dirty water to feed on the large schools of bait that are moving through the rivers at the moment.

Prawn imitations work really well on jack all year round.

There are many good quality prawn style lures on the market to choose from.

It’s more about getting the lure deep into the structure where jack prefer to feed.

Bait fishing for jack will work well this month.

Live bait is hard to resist for this fish, though cut bait such as pilchard and mullet fillets work very well too.

When chasing mangrove jack, live bait will also attract good quality by-catch in the form of jewfish, threadfin salmon, trevally and even the occasional barramundi.

Cut bait doesn’t seem to get the attention of these species very often but bream, cod, flathead and grunter are regular catches.

The tackle for catching jack on bait can be kept very simple.

The rods and reels are the same as those I use for casting lures at them, with a running sinker straight on top of the hook.

This helps avoid snags and gets the bait straight into the zone.

Sinker size depends on how hard the current’s running and how deep the water is.

I prefer to fish as light as possible, while making sure the bait is getting to the bottom.

The Brisbane River has been fishing well.

Prime muddies mangrove jack
Mud crabs are very active this month. Fresh bait will help increase your catch.

I had a quick trip there in late December and found a lot of fish sitting on the bait schools.

Snapper, jewies, bream, grunter, flathead, tailor, flounder and giant trevally are all feasting on the abundance of bait spread throughout the mouth area at the moment.

Threadfin salmon and jew have also been regular catches for anglers targeting the wharves towards the mouth of the river.

Once again, prawn imitations have been working well, as are vibes and 3-4” paddle tail plastics.

Fish will follow the bait schools in the river, so don’t worry about fishing the middle of nowhere if you come across a bait school on the sounder.

Some of the giant trevally I found in the river were around 65cm – good fun on light gear.

February is a great month to be on the water.

Get the crab pots in, pack the cast net for some prawns and get stuck into those feisty mangrove jack.

Hope to see you on the water.

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About Keith Stratford

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