Saratoga, either the southern or gulf variety, are one of those species that sit on anglers’ bucket list for years. Given their limited range, they’re not available to everyone, meaning many have to travel in order to lock horns with these prehistoric leapers. Luckily for anglers in south east Queensland, southern saratoga have been stocked in select impoundments, and some have become world-class saratoga fisheries! Impoundments such as Borumba, Cania, Kurwongbah, Hinze and Macdonald boast fish in the 80cm class and longer, and in the right conditions multiples of these curious animals can be landed in a single session. Fly fishing personality Lefty Kreh labelled them the most entertaining fish he’s ever targeted, and that sure is saying something!
The first thing to remember with toga is that they spend most of their time either on or near the surface. Their upward facing mouth is a dead give away that this animal is always looking up, so it makes sense to work this section of the water column. There are a range of great lures that will work on toga, and using the sort of gear you’d feel comfortable using for bass is a good starting point.
Lures such as topwaters, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits and soft plastics all have their place in a saratoga angler’s arsenal. Topwater baits such as the Chasebaits Bobbin Frog and Yo-Zuri 3DS Popper 65mm are great for working the surface. If wanting to cover water with spinnerbaits, look no further than Storm ST-1 Spinnerbait and Tackle Tactics Striker Spinnerbait are perfect. Cranksbaits such as the Luckycraft Flat CBD Crank Bait and Rapala Shad Dancer Hard Body Lure are other great searching baits. If you want to go soft on these hard-mouthed toothy predators, ZMan Swimmerz Soft Plastics in any of their fish-catching colours are capable of fooling a toga.
In fact, saratoga are not a particularly fussy fish - the trick is to find a lure that you’re comfortable using. Often when saratoga are spotted cruising around looking for a feed, a cast in their general direction should see them beeline and strike, without actually taking time to look at what they’re eating!
If you’re looking to nail your first toga, either up the gulf country or down south of the tropics, make sure you stock up on a few lures that can be worked on or near the surface. The lures mentioned above will readily take other species that share the waters with toga, such as bass, yellowbelly, sooty grunter and barramundi. Chasing these amazing archaic creatures is always fun and interesting, so make a plan to hit a toga hole!
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