Great Grunters, It’s January!
  |  First Published: December 2006

At the beginning of each year, anglers are busy pursuing battles with most estuary and offshore species.

January’s offshore catches have mainly consisted of mackerel, cobia, and tuna, while coral trout, parrot, cod, sweetlip and redfish have dominated reef captures. Our favourite estuary species are still about with flathead, mangrove jack, fingermark, bream, trevally, whiting, dart, king and blue salmon all still on the chew.

The forecasts for the rest of the month looks positive, and if they kids aren’t back at school yet, take them out with you. There’s been large numbers of squid about, and chasing them always makes for great entertainment. Factory made squid jigs are the most popular method of squidding but you may also get results with pilchards using steel pilly spikes. If you opt for jigs, I suggest pink and orange in the early morning and evening while green and blue is the best colour during the day.

Jetties and wharves always hold good numbers of squid that sit waiting to ambush baitfish and prawns. After casting your jig, let it sink near the bottom before retrieving, then work it back to you with small jigs, stalling between winding. For extra appeal, soak your squid jigs in pilly juice or tuna oil. Some of the hotspots include: Rosslyn Bay Harbour, Outer Rock, Pumpkin Passage, Man and Wife, and The Keppels.

Prawns are another exciting summer option, and plenty have been caught off Statue Bay, Greenslopes and Solero during low tide. You’ll also find them building in size and quantity at Causeway Lake, Fitzroy River, Coorooman Creek and Pumpkin Creek.

Prawns are excellent on the plate, but even better when used as bait- almost any fish will take a bite. The trick is to keep them alive and in good shape for your entire fishing session. Heat may also alter the effectiveness of your live bait, so shade and installation is imperative. Keep in mind that if you use herrings, either greenbacks or yorkies, as bait it pays to rinse them to get rid of any loose floating scales that may block the gills of other fish in the tank.

In other news, after a slack period last summer the grunter have made amends this year. Both estuary and blue water grunter have been active, and numbers should increase over the weeks to come.

The Fitzroy River is a favourite spot for local anglers and there are enough spots around to give everyone a shot. You’ll find a couple of good holes around Pirates Point that hold grunter, as well as the rocky patches at Connors Creek and deep cockle beds at Coorooman Creek. You can also target quality grunter along the banks between Corbett’s and Kelly’s Landings, and the best bait in all areas has been herring, prawns, flesh strips, pilchards and squid.

Deepwater grunter are a lot bigger than their estuary cousins; they often reach over 6kg, and taste every bit as good as the small fellas. Hotspots for these beauts include: Capricorn’s Jew Hole, The Barge, The Pinnacles, The Rama and Cape Manifold. Out here the grunter hang in trenches, holes and rubble patches away from the main pinnacle and structures. Although lots of different methods work, the old snapper rig (patenosta) ranks highly. When you tie it make the tails longer than usual, this will increase movement of your bait in the current. Pilchards, squid and tuna chunks will be the best options.

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