Flylords: Now that you’re able to get back out on the water, what species have you been chasing?
Jako: You know me, I am an addict, so I will catch just about anything that swims. But as soon as I could get back on the water, I was out guiding my local waters here in Texas. Mostly targeting Redfish, Jacks, and a few other local characters.
Flylords: Tell us a little bit about the “underrated” Jack Crevalle fishery you’ve been exploring.
Jako: Man, I still don’t understand why so many people complain about not having the money to go fish for GT’s, but they have Jacks right on their doorstep. I love it when the locals ask me about my day and I tell them about catching a few Jacks.
Their response… “You mean you catch those trash fish on a fly pole?!”
The beautiful thing about Jack’s is that you can catch them all over, I have caught Jacks in Africa, South America, North America… I suppose here in Texas they are not very sought after because people can’t eat them. Amen to that, more for me and my clients.
Flylords: What strategies and techniques are you using to target them?
Jako: The whole experience is action-packed, from start to finish. We typically find the Jacks in a couple of different scenarios: deep water and on the flats, while hunting for smaller Redfish. More often than not, I find that it’s a “run and gun” situation. We’ll spot feeding activity on the surface and/or feeding birds. On the way over to the commotion, I’ll get a Jack setup in my client’s hands, and we’ll both buckle down for sickle-tailed carnage.
As we run over, I’m careful not to drive the boat over any fish on the surface to avoid putting the school down, all while getting my client ready to cast a line into the mayhem as soon as possible. Then it’s just down to the rapid strip, strip, strip retrieve. When the Jack smokes the fly (and they usually do), you’ve got to strip set as hard as possible. It might sound harsh, but in the moment I usually tell my clients to “Rip its face-off!” Just to make sure their hook is buried. After that all you can do is hold on, it’s about to get real.
Flylords: How do Jack Crevalle stack up against the Giant Trevally? Are there differences between them?
Jako: I really think pound-for-pound a Jack will stand up against a GT all day long. Their attitude, behavior, and all-around bad-ass-ness is exactly the same. Look, I’m not going to take anything away from a GT, I have built my career around GT’s and they have a very special place in my heart. And of course, GT’s can get a little bigger than Jacks growing to nearly 180 lbs. But this is how I would explain the comparison to everyone that asks me: “It is always great to have the dream to one day chase a GT, but don’t look past a Jack, you will not be disappointed. And if you are, then I don’t think we can be friends…”
Flylords: What set-ups are you using for those bruisers?
Jako: I always use 10 WT setups for them, but have changed up to 11’s now. These fish are turbocharged and it is just better for the fish to get them in quicker. My favorite rods to use are 11 WT G Loomis’, Orvis H3’s or T&T Exocetts paired with my Mako 9550 loaded with 80 lb backing, and Cortland’s 11 WT GT/Tuna line with a 40 lb fluorocarbon leader and either poppers or streamers depending on where the fish are sitting in the water column.
Flylords: What has been your favorite aspect of the Gulf fishery? How does it compare to others you have explored?
Jako: This fishery was such an amazing surprise to me. It is definitely not an easy place to guide and figure out. There is a lot of water to learn, a ton of variables…tides, winds, etc… And then it is also important to pay your respects to the local long term guides. If you are the real deal and work hard you will get respected for it. But like I said, it is a very healthy system. I was blown away by the amount of baitfish and birdlife among all the amazing wildlife. But as with many other fisheries, it is very fragile and needs to be looked after.
Flylords: What is the wildest scene you have witnessed while fishing down there?
Jako: There are a lot of special things that happen out here, but there is still something very raw about hundreds of Jacks working together and destroying everything in their path.
Flylords: What’s your next adventure?
Jako: My season is pretty packed with guiding down here on the coast till September. I still have a few pending hosted trips, to Mongolia, Brazil, and Gabon, Africa, but I don’t think there will be any international travel this year. I am not stressed about it, as I love guiding down here, plus it gives me more time to work on crazy trips for next year.