by Luke Galea
Pound for pound, Sooty Grunter would have to be one of the hardest fighting freshwater fish around as I am sure anyone who has caught them, would attest to. They are thick shouldered beasts, with an absolute aggression to smash a lure and fight dirty in skinny, fast flowing waters where they are commonly encountered.
On Sunday, I decided to chance my luck at a freshwater expanse of water west of Mackay that looked like it had sootys written all over it, and it did! I am fortunate enough to have an uncle that owns some land to the west and had some pristine looking water running through his land.
We were catching one to two sootys per pool but after they were released or if one managed to get off mid way through the fight – the bite would shut down and we would have to move 50m to the next pool. It was pretty much one fish per pool and the first one of us to fire in a cast would be hit almost instantaneously.
I was armed with my new Samurai Reaction 302 Bluewater and I was seriously impressed with the working curve this rod possessed under heavy load. The 302 was stiff enough in the tip to work my little Megabass Dog-X like a dream but had enough grunt in the butt of the rod to wrangle these beasty footballs from their rocky lairs amidst fast flowing water.
I hooked a 50cm+ model and the power of this fish made short work of the Dog X’s front trebles, squashing them like a pin. I knew I should have upgraded my trebles before I left but thought I would chance it – lesson learned. I immediately upgraded my trebles to Gamakatsu Treble 14 size 4 trebles.
The surface bite shut down after this and I changed over to a 3 inch Atomic Plazo Fat Grub (brown crawdad) hooked weedless on a 3/0 Gamakatsu EWG Heavy Wire Worm Hook. The extra strength of this Heavy Wire Worm hook was necessary to combat the crushing jaws of the mighty sootys. Getting these plastics down deep and in their faces worked a treat as we often had 3 or 4 big sootys fighting eachother and bustling their mates out of the way to engulf the tantalising curl-tail of this softy.
We ended up with 15 quality sootys and to catch them in such beautiful country on quality gear was simply sensational.