The water around the boat on Florida’s Crystal River suddenly began frothing with bait fish scrambling and darting for their lives. The surface also was broken by the large swirls of bigger fish in pursuit just below the surface.
It was a commotion few fisherman could resist tossing a bait or lure toward. When the Vudu Shrimp made by Egret Baits hit the water a powerful tug on the line resulted, followed by a dogged tug-o-war with a brutish adversary.
Such go most encounters with a school of feeding jack crevalle.
For many American recreational anglers jack crevalle are considered at best a nuisance. Particularly for bait fisherman, these members of the jack family are frowned upon as nothing but wastes of good bait. As a final nail in the coffin of their popularity, jack crevalle are thought to be of very poor quality on the dinner table. A lot of natives of the Caribbean area will argue that point, but still it is the common perception.
On the other hand, these fish, which are sometimes referred to as common jacks, are rugged battlers that never give up. Their scythe-like tails create a lot of momentum when pulling line off a reel. They also readily attack live baits, artificial lures and even flies.
Crevalle also reach quite large sizes. The world record caught off the Angola coast in Africa in 2010 tipped the scales at 66.2 pounds. Such bigger brutes more often are located just offshore in the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico along out coast. Inshore jacks usually range in size up to about 15 pounds, but are found in schools throughout temperate to tropical waters around us.
These inshore jacks commonly are found in both salt and brackish water along the Gulf Coast of Florida. The rivers originating from freshwater springs are usually full of them, as proven by our day on the Crystal River fishing from kayaks.
The trip began at the marina in Plantation on Crystal River, a full service resort located on the river’s Kings Bay. The resort offers a wide array of amenities and the marina has launch sites for both paddle and power fishing craft.
The day began slowly, with the most interesting part being close encounters with manatees that often swam just beneath the boats. After fishing fruitlessly around the southern end of Banana Island, with its famous Kings Spring, we paddled across the channel to the south end of Buzzard Island.
That’s where the first encounter of the day took place with some marauding jacks. These schools probably averaged 3-pounds each, but on light spinning and fly tackle were more than a handful. What would have been a day of disappointing fishing, now turned into one of bent rods and frantic action.
All of which can instill an angler with a new appreciation of jack crevalle.