10 hard-earned lessons about big-game kayak fishing on Panama’s Wild Coast

10 things to know about Panama’s awesome kayak fishing

Experience is the best teacher, but these tips will get you up to speed

#8 Jack crevalles are just the BEST

Newmarket, Ontario’s Don Willoughby with a sporty jack crevalle

The jack crevalle is a very common catch in subtropical and tropical waters, and not great eating, so the species hold little appeal for many experienced saltwater anglers. To someone like me, who lives a long way from the ocean, this is madness. Because jacks are nothing but fun. They’re fairly plentiful, and enthusiastically slam jigs, poppers and jerkbaits. When you’re lucky enough to find a school of ’em, it can be a jacks-plosion, as they suddenly materialize, and just about jerk the rod out of your hand.

And boy howdy, do jacks fight.

Jacks are disproportionately powerful in a way that doesn’t even seem to make sense. The first time freshwater anglers hook a small jack, they invariably think it’s a 25-pound fish, and are utterly astonished to pull up something the size of a hubcap. It’s almost a rite of passage.

(Clockwise from top left) Mike Dodds, Fred Simeons, Don Willoughby and the author. Note the jack crevalle’s oversized tail, prominent pectoral fins and powerhouse build.

Jacks roam the open ocean, swimming down their prey from great distances, which makes this predator hard, fast and strong. So when a jack turns that deep body sideways, and starts pounding its huge forked tail, you are in for a fight.

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