There are a few species of saltwater grunter, or javelin in Australia, namely the silver, blotched and barred javelin. These fish are found across most of temperate and tropical Australia in the estuaries and sometimes offshore, particularly when they get to larger sizes. These fish pull hard, taste great, and can often be caught in decent numbers once a school is found. Despite these seemingly winning traits, grunter don’t get a lot of attention next to other estuary species such as mangrove jack and barramundi.
Like other predators that share the estuary with them, they tend to focus their feeding effort on jelly prawns and small baitfish species, so it goes without saying that smaller presentations are the go-to for sport fishers. Plastics such as the Daiwa Bait Junkie Minnow, ZMan Slim Swimz Soft Plastic and Chasebaits Flick Prawn are a good starting point.
Bait anglers also have a lot of success on grunter, perhaps more so than lure anglers. Small live baits of herring, mullet and prawns will draw the attention of hungry grunter, but so too will soft dead baits like squid or fish flesh.
Finding grunter consistently can prove a challenge, as they don’t always hang close to obvious structures like many other estuary predators do. For this reason, grunter are often targeted during their breeding season, and while their exact breeding period will depend on the system, generally it falls during the cooler months. Grunter will form huge shoals around creek and river mouths, and a good sounder is invaluable when looking for these shoals. In some areas, the assembly point is the same each season, and old timers can find their way to a grunter shoal by memory. This has traditionally been the realm of baits, but if you’re a lure fisher and you find yourself parked up a decent grunter school, soft vibe presentations such as the Zerek Fish Trap 65mm and Jackall Transam Soft Vibe will get the job done if they’re deployed delicately.
Once you have a few grunter in the bag, you’ll be very surprised by their eating quality, with some anglers preferring their succulent white fillets to barramundi and threadfin salmon.
Don’t knock these guys back as either a sporting proposition or a good feed, and put grunter on your northern estuary bucket list if you haven’t already!
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