Following our recent holiday in the Caribbean. I had a browse through back copies of "Saltwater Sportsman" in the hope of finding some information which might help on future trips. I was particularly interested in tips on catching crevalle jacks - by far the most impressive of the twenty odd species which we landed during the visit. To my surprise these fantastic fish seem to be more or less ignored in the light of bonefish, permit, tarpon, barracuda, kingfish, tuna and various big game species. We have now caught all of these at one time or another and only the tuna came remotely near to the jacks in terms of sport.

Giant trevally - a species of jack which grows to well over fifty pounds - is highly rated by angling writers but it appears to have the bad habit of plunging back into coral reef caves - a tug of war followed by a lost fish is not my idea of enjoyable fishing. The jacks which we were catching (in fact horseeye jacks in this case but just as exciting) simply grabbed the lure and ran and ran and ran against all the pressure we could apply. We lost a few when the sharp tail cutes hacked through the braid (has anyone else had this problem) but the ones we caught more than made up for the losses (well almost). (In fact we no longer think that this is the case - it seems to be coral or sea fan that caused the cut offs. We tried to cut braid on the scutes of a jack and failed).

The tone was set on our first evening. After picking up the hire car and dumping our gear we had just time for half-an-hour or so before the sun went down. We visited a small sandy bay backed by low cliffs and bounded at either end by rocks. At the end of my previous trip I had missed a big fish which struck at a surface lure in the same spot so I was keen for another go. We had assumed that the big fish which I had missed was either a tarpon or a big barracuda - both of which occur there.

All three of us fished with different lures and after my last experience of a surface strike I tied on a Skitterpop. The gear was my 'travel bass rod' (an 11foot, 2.25lb TC) and my usual fixed spool reel loaded with 30lb Whiplash. A wire trace was added for fear of barracuda. We spread out along the beach but I hung around the spot where I had last missed the big fish. The technique was to chuck the popper out and then wind it back as fast as possible, creating a wake on the surface. After half-a-dozen casts suddenly the water erupted and I was into a fish. I held an arm in the air and waved to the others to signal that I was in action (It's no good shouting against the noise of the surf). Richard and Steve soon joined me and we all enjoyed the battle as the fish ran powerfully and repeatedly out and along the beach. When we saw that it was a good jack we were thrilled. It was several minutes before the fish tired and could be tailed ashore with a gloved hand (the tail wrists are almost like razor blades). I was exhausted by the excitement of the struggle and we all agreed that it was the perfect start to the week's fishing.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.' get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - docladle@hotmail.com


Think like a fish.


Into a jack.

These fish fight like nothing else I have caught.  In fact the ones we landed were mostly horseeye jacks but crevalles fight in the same style.


Richard about to lift my first jack from the sea - for Heaven's sake pick it up!. Note the failing light.

The first jack.

He has picked it up.  What a fish.

Another good jack.

These fish are just as tough as they look.  The protective glove is a useful bit of kit.