Jack Crevalle

The jack crevalle is not a highly targeted sport fish primarily because they are not highly valued as food, though they are edible.  Most of the time they are caught while trying to target other species of fish.  They are also called common jack, horse crevalle, cavalla, toro, and cavally.  They have a deep & compressed body with a blunt head and a black spot on the rear edge of its gill cover. The color of a crevalle is a light olive back with greyish gold sides, and usually has a yellowish belly.  The average weight is 3 to 5 lbs, but can be found easily up to 12 lbs in almost all areas. It is not unusual to catch one that tops 20 lbs and they can reach 50 lbs.  The current world record is 58 lbs 6 oz. 

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Where They are Located

Jack Crevalle can be found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Uruguay, Canada, to Nova Scotia, and also the Gulf of Mexico.  They are occasionally seen in the West Indies. In the eastern Atlantic the Jack is located at Portugal to Angola, including the Western Mediterranean.  The Crevalle Jack is the common jack of in shore oceanic waters. It can tolerate a diverse range of salinities and can be found around off shore reefs, harbors, protected bays, in coastal waters, over high saline shallow flats, in the brackish waters found at river mouths, and is even known for traveling up coastal rivers (but never too deep).

Technique and Tackle

Jack crevalle is a light tackle fish that can be caught by spinning, surfcasting, fly fishing, or trolling.  Your should have at least 200 yds of line on your reel with about 20 lb test line.

Bait

Natural Bait. Jacks will bite on any small swimming fish hooked through the back or  front of the dorsal fin.  A lot of large jacks are caught in the 40 lb range with live menhaden that are hooked through the nose, just ahead of the anal fin, or behind the dorsal fin.  Technique used is freelined or fishing with a float. It is best to sight schools of chum with stunned live menhaden.  You can throw the menhaden hard in the water to stun them (or boat deck).  When using live bait it is best to use 2 to 3 feet of 30 lb to 40 lb mono line for your leader and attach it to the pole line using a double surgeon’s knot or you can attach it to a swivel using a improved clinch knot.

Artificial Bait. They will hit almost any kind of plastic grub, top water plug, spoon, or bucktail jig.  Jack crevalle are the most concurring when fishing with artificial bait. Anything ranging from a 1/4 ounce or heavier fast moving jig in yellow or white with a plastic tail or not, a spoon, a noisy surface plug,  or a under the surface swimming plug will do just fine except when it comes to the biggest and wisest jack cavelle.  It really is  unnecessary to use anything other than artificial bait. For artificial it is best to use a 20 lb to 30 lb mono line leader cut to a length that is best for you to cast comfortably.  Lures should always be retrieved at a fast pace and have no stopping or pausing because a Jack will lose interest if it does not act like real live food.  When a jack is coming upon a lure to strike it is advised to speed it up and at the same time work the rod tip with hard jerks.  They instinctively love the chase and slow moving lures just don’t do much to entice them.

Fly. For these simple minded fish, the leader is not so critical. Best if about 6 feet with about a 30 lb butt and a tippet of about 8 lbs to 12 lbs.  If catching large large jacks then its best to use a 16 lb tippet.  The type of fly yu use is not that critical.  Choose your favorite and best fly that has worked for you in the past.  I have used a white Deceiver with Mylar tied into it, glass minnows, popping bugs, and several other streamer types will catch them just fine. What is important to remember is that when a Jack zeroes in on the fly, strip in rapidly.

Tips for Catching jack Crevalle

  • Jacks love to pin mullet against a wall and then strike in to catch whatever.  Use this instinct to your advantage by trying to get the jacks to working a mullet school close to a seawall.  Throw your bait as close as you can to this wall and reel it in at a fast rate.
  • When you get a bite its best not to try for an immediate hook set because they frequently will miss on their 1st strike but will always strike again as long as the bait keeps moving.   
  • Whenever you are fishing deep with yellow or white jigs and the weather is extremely hot or cold try slowing your retrieve and utilize an up and down motion technique. In addition you can add some shrimp or bait strip to make it more enticing.
  • If fishing inshore and large sized Jacks are there, use a kingfish classic which is a duster and a cigar minnow combo. Be sure to troll fast and make sure your rods are in holders.

It will usually take about an hour to bring in a 30-40 pound jack and when you get it close enough use a net.  They are not good to eat so it is best to just release it for another fight on another day.

Hopefully the information I have provided for you here in this article is enough to help you catch some really good Jacks.  They may not be good to eat but they sure are fun to catch.  Below I have provided some other sources that can be used to further your education about sport fishing for Jack Crevalle:

Wikipedia-Jack Crevalle- Find detailed information about the its habitat food sources.

Florida Sportsman- excellent source for information about fishing and catching Jack Crevalle.

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