Freshwater Haven

By Luke Galea

Well all I can say is WOW! Yesterdays kayak fishing session in an isolated waterhole west of Mackay, was truly one of the most memorable sessions I have ever had.

The main reason for the trip (like you need an excuse to go fishing!) was because I hadn’t launched my kayak for a couple of months and wanted to see if the sooty grunter were still on the chew at the moment due to the cooler weather...I’m happy to report that they definitely ARE!

I launched my yak and I was off to explore a beautiful waterhole that I had never fished before. There is always a large element of excitement and anticipation as you embark on a system you had never fished before. It took me all of 5 minutes to realise that this new location was going to be an absolute honey-hole. Not only due to the fact I had my first sooty in the yak already but massive and abundant snags dominated every 5 metres of the bank on each side of the waterhole.

I was loaded with my trusty sooty combo, consisting of my Shimano Saros 3000FA, 6-12lb spin stick, 10lb braid and 20lb leader. I usually opt to run 14lb leader as a matter of preference, however, with the mass abundance of large woody snags present, I sure was glad I went with the 20lb leader (and I still managed to get busted off on one occasion).

I was using small stick-baits and cicada lures across the surface and landed a heap of small to medium sized sooty grunter in quick succession. Despite the fact you can catch sooty grunter on plastics, hard-bodies and vibes – surface applications such as small poppers and stickbaits would have to be the most exciting way to catch them. It is visual and exciting and the splash associated with the explosive strike is nearly enough to drain the angler in the process!

I approached a large “lay-down” log and from past experiences with this specific type of structure, I knew it was going to produce the goods. I find that large lay-down timber that extends into the main channel and into deeper water, to be absolute gold, and often fishes better than large woody structure protruding into the water from the bank.

I fired in a cast over this log and began walking the little stick-bait back across the top of it. It took about 3 winds of my little Saros spin reel before my lure disappeared in a massive explosion of white-water. This fish was pretty decent and had my spin rod, folded to the waterline. This fish was clearly the fish of the day so far and actually started dragging my kayak into the snag with it! I managed to wrangle this fish out of its woody sanctuary and was pleased with a solid 43cm sooty. I ended up getting another sooty of this same snag as well but would have only been around 35cm.

By this point, I had landed a bunch of sootys on surface, and with the surface bite starting to shut down, I opted to tie on a plastic. This is usually the general trend with surface fishing. The bite will slow down as the sun rises higher in the sky, subsequently forcing the fish to recede into deeper waters during the head of the day.

I began peppering the snags and was soon rewarded by 2 descent sooty grunter. The next strike definitely felt larger, yet it was not fighting like a sooty. It was running into the middle of the creek instead of into the snags. It soon jumped and revealed itself to be a beautiful Saratoga, and a decent one at that. After an aerial performance a Russian gymnast would be proud of, I soon manoeuvred the kayak to the bank and beached this awesome fish. It measured a respectable 71cm and is currently my second biggest toga to date. It was just icing on the cake, of what was already an awesome day in new country.

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