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Jack (Horse-eye)

Fishing for Horse Eye Jack

The horse-eye jack is a popular game fish and a minor commercial fish. It is also known as the big-eye jack, and is very similar in appearance to the crevalle jack. It gets this name in reference to the large eyes this species has. They are a large fish, sometimes growing as large as 101 cm and a weight of 13.4 kg, but on average are around 60 cm long. The horse-eye jack has a body similar to other large jacks, with elongated and deep bodies. Adult horse-eye jack are usually dark blue to silvery blue on the top, becoming a silver white to golden on the bottom. Their caudal fin is usually yellow to dusky in color.

The horse-eye jack is most commonly found in tropical and subtropical Atlantic Ocean waters, from Bermuda and the Gulf of Mexico and south to Rio de Janeiro. These fish prefer to live on reefs and offshore oil rigs, while the juveniles can often be found closer to shore along sandy and muddy bottoms. While this species can occasionally venture into brackish water and live in river mouths, it is usually found at depths of around 140m. Adults usually swim with others in large schools, either as one species or mixed with crevalle jack.

Horse-eye jack, like all jacks, are generally wary of scuba divers and they will move slowly away as diver approaches. Schools have been known to crowd around divers, and it is thought they are attracted to the bubbles. Horse-eye jack are a very popular game fish as well as a food fish, and so they are targeted by recreational and commercial fishermen alike. They are also often used as bait for larger species of fish, such as Atlantic sailfish, blue marlin, tarpon, and snook. The fish that are commonly caught are usually around 2 feet in length and weigh around 10 pounds, and a larger one will be over 3 and a half feet and weigh around 30 pounds. Because they like to hang out in schools, it is not uncommon to catch multiple horse-eye jack in a short period of time. They are generally tougher than a regular jack crevalle, and fight very hard. For this reason they are a great game fish because they are super hard fighters when they are hooked. Their diet generally consists of crab, shrimp, small fish, and other small water invertebrates, so it is no surprise that these are usually what make for the best bait when targeting horse-eye jack. Although these fish will seek out crabs or other food on or near the bottom, most feeding takes place as the schools of jacks encounter schools of bait fish or shrimp.

The horse-eye jack is a good light tackle game fish. You can also use lures, jigs, or spinners to catch them. Lures should be retrieved at a fairly fast pace without slowing down or stopping. Along with this, it is possible to catch them fly fishing, drift fishing, bottom bouncing, trolling, spin casting, surf casting, and still fishing. Horse-eye jack school in fish of similar size, so when you hook one, you pretty much know what the rest are going to look like in the immediate area. A solid light to medium weight action tackle setup with twelve to fourteen pound test line is fun enough with these guys, easily being good enough for the little ones while being heavy enough for the big ones as long as you tire them out a little bit. If you are ever in an area that has horse-eye jack, you owe it to yourself to catch a few to try them out. Many people are surprised at how well they fight and how fun they are to catch, no matter what species you may be targeting at the time you are fishing. 

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