Mangrove Jacks Fishing in the Northern Territory's Top End
Mangrove Jacks (Lutjanus argentimaculatus) are aggressive predatory fish found in the tropical waters of northern Australia. They are targeted by anglers for their vicious fighting spirit and as a member of the snapper family they also make prime eating. Juveniles and young adults are found in coastal mangrove estuaries and tidal saltwater creeks while the larger adults migrate to coral reefs and even offshore reefs, sometimes penetrating to depths in excess of 100m.
A fishing trip to the Northern Territory will usually encounter these explosive red assassins, often as bycatch when chasing Barramundi. Mangrove Jacks will readily hit any lure that comes close into their territory. They inhabit snags and under water structure and will attack aggressively if anything comes within their range, before swiftly turning back to their cover.
A sturdy bait caster, warm waters, structure, lure placement (right in front of their face) and an anglers quick reflexes are the key to catching Jacks on a fishing trip to the Northern Territory. They are tough and hardy predators and it’s usually catch and release out here, but if Mangrove Jacks are caught in depths greater than 10m they are prone to barotrauma.
Chasing Jacks around the waters of the Cobourg Peninsula is always good fun, the clear shallow waters in the tidal creeks means often you can see these stunning red predators lurking under mangroves and snags before leaping out at lightning speed to destroy the lure. They will take lures of all shapes and sizes, with some cheeky juveniles attacking lures almost bigger than they are! They are one of the toughest sportfish around and although many of our estuary catches don’t exceed 50cm, although if you are lucky enough to snag one on a reef they can get much bigger. They are a favourite to catch for their power, explosive lure strikes and they taste delicious!