Freshwater fishing: Saratogas and Bass and more!

Switching to the fresh

By Luke Galea

December 2013

There was a period of my life not too long ago where freshwater fishing sat reasonably low down on the list of personally favoured fishing preferences, but I am happy to say that this has very much changed. There are two overarching reasons for this and both are as important as each other and go hand in hand. Freshwater fishing is now one of my most favoured options and has largely come about since purchasing my little kayak. My “Glide” has opened the gates to those hard to reach fishing locations that have seen very little to no fishing pressure. There is something very special about having your backside sitting a mere few inches from the waterline. It is relaxing, therapeutic and it is really easy to become immersed in the tranquillity of it all.

The kayak is just the vehicle that gets you to these places but it is the fish themselves which strike a chord among some of the hardest and dirtiest fighters around. There are so many people that fish the saltwater only and do not know what they are missing by not hunting the freshwater reaches as well, and I must say that I use to be one of these people.

Impoundment barramundi reach gigantic sizes and a 1.2m fish must be close to the pinnacle as far as freshwater fishing goes. The extreme power has the ability to leave an angler mystified thinking how on earth his fish was able to weave in and out of 4 trees and bog down in weed within seconds of the initial take. I like to cruise around the shallow weedy bays and points under power of my electric motor and flick large weedlessly rigged plastics at the weedy edges. Squidgy Mongrels and Ridgebacks (particularly in the colour of drop bear) are some of my favourites when it comes to impoundment plastics. If plastics aren’t your thing then you MUST give surface lures a go. Squidgy boof frogs or large stickbaits worked across the top of shallowly inundated weed beds works an absolute treat.

Sooty Grunter in the north and Australian Bass in the south are other freshwater species that will test angling skill and equipment to the limit. Despite being smaller than barramundi, their power is definitely proportionate. They are nuggety, thick-set fish that can be caught via multiple methods – plastics, stickbaits, poppers, spinnerbaits or blades. Sootys have got to be one of my absolute favourite fish to catch these days and for me, rate more highly in the fighting stakes than many saltwater adversaries I frequently target. They have extremely powerful jaws and will crush or straighten out an inferior treble without too much effort. Always upgrade your trebles from the factory standards when planning a sooty mission.

Just recently I had the pleasure of landing my very first Saratoga. It was an absolutely massive specimen and was caught in a location in Mackay where they are relatively uncommon. I was absolutely stoked with this fish. Their markings are so unique and beautiful that it was like Albert Nermertjira painted them on himself. They truly are a bizarre looking fish that would not look out of place swimming around with the dinosaurs. I must admit that I was very lucky to land this fish. Toga have a very hard, bony and platey mouth full of very sharp teeth. The hookup rate is usually very poor with Toga as it is hard for the hooks to stay connected into a fleshy part of the mouth. I know I will now be investing far more time targeting these fish as the surface strike was absolutely insane.

Jungle Perch are also on my bucket list. They are relatively rare around the Mackay / Whitsunday region but I have located a few potential spots where I think they will reside. It’s only a matter of time.....

The point of the article is to just put it out there that the freshwater scene is definitely worth a look and I encourage people to use the marvels of Google Earth / Google Maps to investigate isolated waterholes or sections of stream situated off the beaten track that may just be that potential honey-hole. A few hours huddled around the computer screen with your mates can definitely pay dividends.

Live It....Breathe It....

The authors PB Saratoga

The Australian Bass. One of the dirtiest fighters found in fresh water