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Paul Chew

The rod loads and the lure swings through its arc, only to be sent sailing out into a flooded creek mouth, lost now in the glow from the sun rising over the horizon, least it's not in the mangroves for a change. I strain to watch the braid for the telltale twitch as the Copper Penny ZMan 2.5" GrubZ plummets into the depths.

The braid stops sinking, heralding the plastics arrival on the bottom, so with a couple quick upward flicks I bring it to life again. As it falls, the braid twitches, I lift the rod gently and the little TT 1/4oz 1/0H jighead finds its mark, rod buckles and the little XTS howls in protest as another barred grunter (javelin fish) falls victim to this deadly little plastic.

The initial hit and run is electric, and these golden hued opponents will bury you in any underwater timber given the chance, so as much pressure as you're game to put onto the 6lb braid is needed to turn him away. After a dogged fight, getting them out into open water... they finally give up and slide into the net. And so begins a day on the grunter.

For those that don't know the barred grunter (Pomadasys kaakan) grows to about 80cm, but a good one for here is anything over 60cm. Grunter are commonly found in most northern estuaries around any gravel bank, deep hole and any fallen trees in deeper water. Early morning and late afternoon they can be targeted in shallower water, around a metre deep, particularly on a rising tide and their turn of speed, and some may laugh, rivals the giant herring, which we catch in the same area.

As the sun rises the bigger fish tend to move off the shallows and lay along the drop offs, which is where we target them. We are finding the use of the sounder essential, as we will move from the mouth of the creek right up on the incoming tide as I believe these schools move a long way with each tidal movement.

Typically we rig using the aforementioned 2.5" GrubZ, but a lot of grunter have also fallen this year to the ZMan 4" StreakZ Curly TailZ, mostly in Motor Oil and New Penny colours. After the tide turns and starts to run out, the fish become a little easier to target as they position themselves at any reasonable drain mouths and wait for the baitfish to leave the creek.

Positioning the boat slightly downstream, casting onto the shallow creek mouth, and hopping the plastics down the incline proves to be a winning combination for these guys. As with most fish, a lot will hit on the drop, so keep a good eye on the braid as its sinking. All sorts of by-catch can be expected when using this technique, from barra, diamond trevally and threadfin salmon, to the normal bream, flathead and a few small jewfish.

As the tide nears the bottom, locating bait schools in the deep holes on the corners of the creeks works well. It is then just a matter of moving around with the bait. Don't waste time fishing a hole without bait showing as the low tide bite window is fairly small, rather shoot up to the next corner and check there. As far as eating qualities go, grunter in my opinion take some beating in the estuary, so it's not uncommon for a couple to make it to the table.

So for something a little different, grab a light rod and give them a go, you won't be disappointed.

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