The end of summer sure is hot, but this means that the glass minnows and small fry white baits are beginning to move into the bays and canals along the coast from New Pass to Port Manatee making the fishing just as hot as the temperature. No matter where you are, when a hatch of tiny baitfish like these become available, it’s like opening the door for some crazy-fast fishing action as these tiny baitfish lure the predators that feast on them.
Use Birds as Your Fishing Guides
I love fishing around these bait schools because the action gets hot, fast, and wild! Fish skyrocket and slash through the schools of baitfish. Birds squawk and dive on the bait, attempting to get an easy bite to eat. Not only do the glass minnows and pilchards get thick, but they attract the predators that love to eat them! The ones I like to target are ladyfish, tarpon, and jack crevalle; which all get in on the action together. Add bluefish, trout, and Spanish mackerel to the mix, and you have a melee of maulers mincing and munching on baitfish. It’s the jack crevalle that gets the nod from most anglers for some hard drag-pulling, angler screaming action. Even the small jacks weighing only a couple of pounds can put a good bend in a rod, and when you get the kids on the end of that rod, the smiles go wild!
Binoculars are a Fisherman’s Friend
When trying to locate these schools of tiny baitfish that are being attacked, a good pair of binoculars can be helpful. You may not be right in the area of these fish, so scanning the distant water surface and skies above the water will allow you to see what’s going on at a distance. When you see terns, gulls, and pelicans all coming together diving on the water, chances are that predator fish, like the jacks are herding the bait into tight balls and forcing it to the surface. This usually results in these predators slashing at the bait on the surface and skyrocketing into the air as they strike at the tightly balled up baitfish. An open mouth is all that’s needed for jacks or other predators to feed on these tiny fish.
Fishing for Jacks is an Extreme Sport!
Tarpon can be seen rolling on the surface and aggressively busting baitfish. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, and jacks will churn the water, turning it into a frothy, foamy mass as they feed. Jacks are vicious feeders, much like piranhas, eating everything they come in contact with. Tossing most any lure the size and profile of the tiny baitfish will result in instant hook-ups. These fish are competitive feeders, and when one fish eats a lure, the rest attempt to take it away from the hooked fish, sometimes resulting in cut-off lures or straightened hooks. Pound-for-pound, jack crevalle are some of the hardest pulling fish on the line.
If you’re looking for a tame time on the water, head for a serene lake for some bluegill fishing with a cane pole, a bobber, and some earthworms, but if you’re looking for something not quite so mild, target some jacks for the call of the wild!