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Jacks don’t jump, except in the gym

May 6, 2016
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

After dinner I grabbed a rod and walked out back to escape the insanity of the evening news and the subsequent stress induced heartburn.

Still recovering from TV shock I fired a long cast down the canal just as the sun died. The MirrOlure hit the water close to the seawall and before I could close the bail I already was losing line.

The huge snook took off, rod bent to its max. All the while I'm praying my knots will hold as half a spool of 15-pound braid is already gone. No doubt this was one real whopper snook, but she never jumped. Too big maybe? Staying deep?

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Capt. George Tunison

Nope, no snook of monster proportions. I had hooked a toro or a cavally. Sad truth is other than in the gym, jacks don't jump.

After catching enough fish, it's often easy to tell what species is on your hook. The steady beat of the rod tip, or in this case the nearly doubled rod, told me I was in jack crevalle country in a big way.

After fishing Southwest Florida for decades, like most of us, I have caught a truckload of jacks with some real big ones thrown in the mix. I've seen bigger jacks over the years, like that trio of 25-pounders hanging under the I-75 Bridge that I saw one Christmas. They weren't interested in eating. Huge ones at the RR Trestle Bridge as well.

After a long arm-burning fight he finally gave it up. I worked my way to meet him at the shoreline trying my best to not look like a really good meal for the resident gators as he splashed water, his tail motor still running.

Still a mean look in his eye and grunting loudly, I tail grabbed him and held up a sure 20-pounder. What a beast these things are. If only they jumped.

Every time I catch a good jack I tell myself I'm going to drag the boat over to Stuart or Jupiter, the home of truly big jacks, ones that would eat my recent catch.

We are talking 40s, 50s, possibly bigger. Bring a lunch and do your push-ups first, because once you hook up a big fish you're going for a boat ride if your tackle and hook stands up to the torture.

Current IGFA All-Tackle World Record - 66 lb., 2 oz. - caught on a topwater plug off Angola beating the current world record by eight pounds. This was also an African fish.

How big do jacks get? I don't want to find out. I don't think I'm strong enough for that challenge.

The largest tarpon in the world also call Africa home as well with a 400-pounder possible. Maybe a bay boat with a small crane mounted on deck? Scary!

Back here in SW Florida, juvenile tarpon action throughout the Cape canal systems remains hot with small jigs and fly rods scoring best. Like their big brothers, dead bait on the bottom works as well. Shrimp under a float also will score.

Follow the boats up into Pine Island Sound as they soak bait for big tarpon. Expect a fair share of sharks. Dead mackerel, catfish (live or dead), ladyfish (live or dead), and cut or live mullet all will catch fish.

Tip: Bring shad to the game and you may have the primo dead bait for your own silver king.

Tarpon will chow down on pinfish or other cast-netted baits under a small float when conditions are right. Actually, at one time or another, Mr. Tarpon will eat practically anything live or dead.

My biggest bait-caught tarpon to date was caught at night using a live silver trout in the Caloosahatchee River.

Don't cast net? Sabiki your live baits at the Sanibel Causeway and associated markers. Use them for tarpon or snook snacks.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or, or



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