Jack Pot

By Capt. Brian Boxx

Our annual dose of cold fronts has been blasting their way through our area. Choppy seas, chilly days and blustery winds bring less than ideal conditions. This Floribbean would happily pass, but you can always find a way to get bent if you’re willing to try. Finding a nice bay or creek out of the direct wind can greatly improve your comfort for the day. For those that do not wish to challenge the fury of Old Man Winter, then you my friend, are in luck. We live in the magical land of South Florida and the temperatures will be back to “paradise degrees” in a matter of days. So, sit back, prep your gear and get ready to enjoy that perfect bluebird sky.
In the backwaters, huge Jack Crevalle are crushing baits. With its sickle tail and streamline body, this fish is built for speed and maneuverability, earning it the nickname “Canal Tuna”. These bruisers will put any in-shore setup to the test. Jacks are not very picky eaters and will slam just about anything you place in front of them. My personal favorite is top water, using Storm lure’s “Chugg Bugg”. The hits are literally explosive, followed by the symphony of screaming drag with braided line peeling through the rod guides. This never ceases to bring me that thrill I crave as an angler. For the kids, try trolling a shallow diving jerk bait like the Bomber Long A. Locating an active area for Jacks is easy. Look for a bay with a lot of bird action and watch the mangrove and sea wall edges for boiling water. Troll around 5 mph and pump the rods to trigger strikes. This is a guaranteed way to put a smile on their face and be hooked for life.
The mangrove edges are alive with sheepshead, snapper, black and red drum. Live shrimp, fished on jigheads or a circle hook and bobber, have been our top producers for these species. This is a great way to spend some quality family time as it’s full of action and excitement. If you’re fishing the right spots, the bite should be almost instant. Look for a spot that has good water flow and gives the fish some form of cover. Bridges and rock piles are a good bet.
Just off-shore the tripletail bite has been insane! These fish will hold tight to just about anything floating and will aggressively take a live shrimp. The many stone crab pots dotting our waters this time of year offer almost endless opportunities to hook into one. Just remember crabbers and their families depend on those traps. Treat them with respect and stay out of their way when they are hauling them in.
Catch you next month. Stay salty my friends.