Sooty grunter are the bandits of the northern freshwater. Their willingness to attack lures, and tendency to hang out in groups make them a much-loved sportfish for visiting southern anglers, however they possibly don’t get the recognition they deserve from local anglers. Their abundance and aggressive nature can make them seem too little of a challenge to some, but with appropriate tackle they are as good as anything!
Sooties have been stocked as the dominant into a few select lakes, such as Eungella near Mackay, Koombooloomba near Cairns, and Julius near Mt Isa, where they regularly reach 50cm and 4kg.
Fortified bass or light barramundi tackle is recommended when fishing these pig sooty factories, and a mix of spinnerbaits, crankbaits and topwater presentations should see you connected in no time.
Lures such as the Tackle Tactics Striker Spinnerbaits, Rapala X-Rap 6cm Hard Body Lure, Halco Roosta Surface Popper 60mm and Bassday Sugapen 95mm Floating Hard Body Lure make up a good little handful of lures for the dams.
In their natural element though, that is the flowing freshwater streams of the tropical north, they are arguably at their best. These clear, nutrient deficient habitats make sooties particularly opportunistic in their feeding habits, and this is a recipe for amazing fishing! Wading or walking along one of these waterways with light gear suitable for bass, trout or bream is fairly standard practice for anyone who fishes for stream sooties.
The two ingredients for stream sooties are current and cover, and if you can find an area where these two things meet, you should find sooties. Even the shallowest snaggy pockets will house sooties. If there’s a roof overhead, it’s good enough for these bandits! Don’t discount shallow shaggy pockets, and be sure to throw exploratory casts to these areas as you wander upstream!
Lures should be kept fairly small in the streams, and lures such as the ZMan Grubz Soft Plastics, Atomic Hardz Crank 38mm Deep, Damiki Umpa 40mm Popper and Berkley Scumdog Hard Body Surface Lure are great for these little battlers.
If you find yourself in the tropics and wanting to enjoy some of the best freshwater fishing anywhere, make sure you call into the local stream or lake to lock horns with the resident sooties! You won’t regret it when your hauling in cricket scores of these aggressive little brutes!
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