Sootys on fire!

Sootys on fire!

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Sootys on fire!

By Luke Galea

Rain brings life…there is no doubt about that, and it is a common known saying that if there is a drought on the land, then there is a drought on the sea. In the north of Australia, the runoff is THE prime time to target cricket score numbers of barramundi and threadfin salmon when these predatory fish are feeding on the baitfish that in turn are feeding on the nutrients that are running off the land. This in addition to elevated flows are the ultimate recipe for success. A bumper wet season will lead to a bumper fishing season. Conversely, a poor wet season will often lead to a poorer than average barra/salmon to follow.

Whilst in Mackay we do not experience runoff of this magnitude, we still see the benefits of what the rain brings. For example, 2015 was an extremely dry year. Locations where my mates and I would catch dozens of sootys in one session were producing very poorly and we would struggle to tempt half a dozen fish in the long term absence of rain. Fast forward to January 2016 where the first significant rain fell within 6 months. The sootys are currently biting off their heads and it is the rain that spurred on this hot bite. Not only are the baitfish more active but a sooty grunters natural tendency is to migrate upstream against the flow for spawning purposes.

Recently, I have been having an absolute ball chasing some solid little sootys in these flows and from my kayak. My little yak has opened up countless fishing options that even the smallest of tinnies would not be able to get to. The grounds we fish are often very shallow, boulder strewn and made up of fast flowing rapids and waterfalls. This ground is still quite navigable via kayak when paddling closer to the river banks where the flow is slower.

Lately I have been using my Shimano Rarenium 2500Ci4+ for these fish and find it to be an ideal light weight reel which packs some serious punch, is as smooth as silk and can be cast all day with ease. A sure fire way to tempt a sooty into striking is to position your kayak in the deeper downstream pool, cast upstream above the rapids and work your lure down with the flow. You can bet your life that sootys will be positioned in the deep pool downstream of the flow waiting for food to be swept to them and where they are looking to move upstream. Working lightly weighted soft plastics (or even hooking them weedless) is a great way to catch a few. Top water stickbaits and poppers are by far the most exciting way to catch these fish as the strike is so visual. Getting the strike is easy, landing these hard fighting fish in the flow, amidst the boulders is where the fun really begins.