A bit of Summer in the middle of Winter

I recently returned from a trip to Cairns in Queensland, Australia where I attended a conference. Prior to leaving I decided to take a couple of days’ vacation and explore nearby fishing opportunities. I did some Google searches only to find out that a guided fishing trip would cost a small fortune, so I adopted plan B. I surveyed the surrounding area on Google Maps and to my surprise found a place called Cowley Beach, so I decided I had to go visit my “name sake” spot, approximately 120 km south of Cairns. On closer examination it looked like a remote location with a long deserted beach and a fair-sized estuary. Accommodation at the local caravan park was also affordable, so I was sorted. I packed a couple of rods and an assortment of lures and had my heart set on catching my first barramundi.

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After two days in aeroplanes and airports I arrived at Cairns in the evening and rented a car to travel down to Cowley Beach. Upon arrival my welcome wasn’t that big and nor was my room! This didn’t worry me as I knew I was on a three-day mission to catch a barra. Thanks to a serious dose of jet lag I was wide awake by 3h00 the next morning, so I got up, made a cup of coffee, packed a small tackle bag and set off on my first Oz outing. Without any knowledge of potential dangers (e.g. crocs and snakes) I walked along the beach casting small plugs and jigs along the way, until I got to the estuary mouth. I was told that the pushing tide was the best time to catch barramundi but the tide had already turned before I got there. The strong out-going tide started producing good current lines and eddies, and soon I noticed some nervous bait fish on the surface. I rigged up with a small STORM Gomoku popper and it wasn’t long before a small GT attacked the lure. My tackle consisted of my old faithful SHIMANO Sustain 2500 reel spooled with 15lb SUFIX 832 braid and a two-piece SHIMANO Beast Master spinning rod (SBMEX24XHP) that I was testing for the first time. This 8’2” rod gave me an advantage of casting light lures a good distance – almost across the estuary – and into the action zone when I noticed bait fish. I persisted with the Gomoku popper which soon got engulfed by a good sized fish, and after a first run of about 20m exploded into the air. It was a queenfish of approximately 1m in length. The battle ensued for another 5 minutes with the fish providing a spectacular aerial affair until it came off. My heart sunk to my knees as I had just lost the “bonus” fish of my trip! Hoping that others were still around I replaced the two small treble hooks with a single big treble on the back end, and continued to flog the water. Indeed, it was my lucky day because a little while later I hooked and landed a nice Queensland queenfish of about 60 cm on the little Gomoku popper.

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On Day 2 I decided to go straight to the estuary mouth before first light. We had some rain in the night and conditions had clearly changed. The water was more turbid and the nervous bait fish were absent and didn’t see any chases by bigger predatory fishes. Since I had nothing better to do I persevered and caught a few small GTs. Jet lag had set in so I called it an early day to get some much needed sleep.

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After a good night’s rest I hit the estuary mouth again at first light on Day 3.  I arrived on the full high tide and noticed lots of surface action further up the estuary, which was inaccessible on foot due to extensive mangrove stands and I wasn’t too keen to be wading in waters inhabited by crocs! Patience was the name of the game and it wasn’t long before the action started with a few small GTs which always punch above their weight on light tackle. While having fun with the small GTs using sub surface lures such as the STORM So-Run pencil and soft plastic baits, I notice something break the surface, so I switched back to the Gomoku popper. It was instant action as a shoal of oxeye tarpon moved into the estuary mouth to take advantage of the abundance of small bait fish that were feeding on the plankton in the current lines. I hooked plenty of the aerial acrobats but only landed three of them. This didn’t worry me in the least as I was in heaven, having a blast on a deserted beach thousands of kilometres away from home.

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The arrival of the mosquito squadron at sunset marked the end of my 3-day stay at Cowley Beach. Although I didn’t catch a barramundi, I was certainly entertained by other equally iconic species, and was not disappointed.

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Written by Paul Cowley

Popping Stick for KZN

TES70H

Value for money the Talavera TES 70 H is an amazing offshore rod. Paired with my Saragosa 10000, loaded with Suffix 832 65lb, it is a fantastic combination.

The Talavera has a very soft tip but a huge amount of backbone. With the soft tip you are able to target smaller species such as Snoek while the huge amount of back bone,  allows you to target bigger species such as  Yellow fin Tuna,  without worrying about the rod not coping.

The Talervera is a very good popping rod as it absorbs the swing of the rod when casting. It unloads beautifully in the cast which gives you that extra distance you often need.

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I have managed to pull  20kg Yellow fins to the boat  in approximately 3 to 6 minutes with my Talavera.

The Saragosa 10k has a very strong and smooth drag which allows you to put a huge amount of pressure on the reel without your drag sticking.

I have filled my Saragosa with the 65lb Sufux 832. It casts beautifully with Sufix 832 65Lb which has a small diameter for a fairly heavy braid, allowing you to fill 300 m of braid on you reel.

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This combo is not only great value for money but it has never let me down.

 

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Written By Craig Bashford

Winters Coming

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As the season changes into our winter months on the KZN South Coast we get our crispy off shore winds in the morning with very low temperatures which at times leave your fingers ice cold and blue and your bottom lip vibrating like a Rapala!!!! Never the less the ice cold mornings should not stop your motivation for fishing it’s an exciting time of the year for fishing on our shorelines. This time of year we get many good species of fish moving up the coast like the shoals of Shad, beautiful Kob, Garrick, Brusher and fat Bronze Bream feeding in the shallows which makes winter fishing so much more exciting. As the winter months can be challenging at times with big rough sea which can put a lot of anglers off but I’ve been a firm believer not to be a fair weather fishermen as you will find yourself disappointed many times, I’ve learnt to adapt to sessions change and different weather patterns as there are my skills to learn and many different ways of finding good quality fish on artificial lures and good bait presentation.
TACKLE TALK
As the years have passed by, targeting Garrick from the shoreline has become so exciting for me, my knees get knocking as they chase and smash your artificial lures on top of the water there is nothing more exciting. My choice of equipment for targeting Garrick this season is going to be a little bit lighter as I enjoy the challenges of fishing but testing the great quality of Shimano equipment, my first set up is the new Shimano Technium spin fishing rod matched with my old favourite Shimano Symetre 4000FJ reel, my second set is the Shimano Vengeance 8foot rod and Shimano exage 4000FD reel, both of the reels have been topped up with 20lb Sufix 832 Advanced Superline braid which is extremely strong and reliable and has proven it’s quality time and time again.My leader line is is generally about 1.2 meters in length using 40lb to 60lb Double X Super Shock fluorocarbon leader to join my braid to leader line i use the PR knot which I found is perfect to join these two lines as your knot is able to pass through your guides of your rod.
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LURES
Garrick are a sucker for a artificial lure skipping and splashing on top of the surface as they can put up an awesome show at most times,my choice of lures are going to be the Storm Sea Bass Thunder minnow 170mm long 34 grams in weight, Williamson Surface Pro 150 and Rapala X-Rap long cast shallow 140 all of the lures I’m going to be changing the treble hooks to VMC good quality inline singles as they do less damage to the fish and have a better hook up as I release these awesome species of fish.
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GULLY FISHING
As the the ocean swell can change and get a bit rough and nasty it’s the perfect time for me to do some gully fishing also known as scratching, lots of fun can be had finding the perfect white water and deep holes between the rocks, all types of fish can be found in these conditions from fat Bronze Bream, Brusher, Kob, Rockcod and Stumpies. For this type of fishing i just enjoy using my Shimano Exage Surf 110H matched with the shimano Spheros Sw6000 and topped with 20lb Sufix 832 Advanced Superline braid which is the perfect combination for this type of fishing not heavy and not to light. VMC have a wide range of good strong, extremely sharp quality hooks, I’m currently using VMC Chinu eyed 7136 no’1 perfect size for smaller baits like crayfish and prawns for bronze bream for the bigger baits and many different types of presentations I’v really enjoyed using the VMC Sunset Circle 7381 no’4/0 and the VMC Sport circle 7384 no’3/0 as these hooks will find there way into the corner of a fishes mouth without damaging any bone structure or stressing the fish out as we can release the fish for another day to come.
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Written by Justin Alborough

Gearing up for Winter Fishing.

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The Eastern Cape winters can be some of the harshest along the coast of Southern Africa with cold front cells moving up further North during this period they brush our coast line more often than in the Summer months and bring Gail force South Westerly winds, swells upto 6 meters and a severe drop in ocean temperatures with estuaries often having an average of 12C to 14C during the peak winter period.

Although years ago the average estuary angler would merely just service and pack ones tackle away during these cooler months most anglers now fish harder during winter  as often the colder water brings better fishing and by far some of the largest local estuary species are present.

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The estuaries like Gamtoos and Sundays have good showings of dusky cob of which can be caught spinning and trolling. Tidal phases play a massive roll in the feeding habits of the dusky and when the right conditions present itself it can be game on with a short window period producing great fishing.

When targeting these fish in deeper water  I often take 2 to 3 outfits with me to cover all the lure sizes making sure the lures can get to the optimum depths at the right speed.

Fishing 1/4oz to 1/2oz jigs I would use a 6.6ft to 7ft fast action rod. My 2 piece 6.6ft crucial does this job perfectly matched with a 2500 sustain and 15lbs Sufix 832 performance braid.

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My medium outfit would cover the 1/2oz to 3/4oz jigs and plastics range from the 5inch to 7inch sizes. For this I use the 2 piece bassterra 7ft rod. Matched with a Sahara 4000 or similar make reel its an outfit that can land any sized estuary fish with the capability to fish lighter lures as well. The reel I spool with 20lbs Sufix Pro 8 braid and with fishing mixed coral to red bait structure if one does get snagged you often will be able to remove the lure with the heavier braid.

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My heavier outfit consists of my Terez Wax Wing which is fitted with Fuji K series guides allowing braid to flow through the guide easily in tough windy conditions. Seated to it is my Shimano Socorro 5000SW spooled with Sufix 832 braid which any angler knows who has fished it is remarkably strong braid.This outfit is used when the wind and tide is rather strong and fished with 7 to 8 inch plastics on 3/4 oz to 1oz jigs.

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Its crucial that when big fish are around to be able to present a lure to them in the right area where they would be holding and for the lure to drop into the zone through the current correctly and this outfit does that and once a hook up happens the fast action allows a good hook set and plenty of back bone allows the hook to set through any hard facial bone.
Even a 20kg plus fish with the right drag tension will be landed with in 10 to 15 minutes and larger fish who would demand more attention one can turn and lift fish towards the boat to he netted.

Best of luck with the winter fishing and be prepared for a good fish every cast.

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 Written by Chris Schoultz

Gomoku Slow Rocker

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I have had a lot of fun fishing with the new Gomoku Slow Rocker. I have used it off the boat as a jig, and also thrown it off the beach and retrieve it like a spoon.

The slow rocker is available in sizes ranging from the small 40g jig, through to the 70g, 90g and 120g.

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The Gomoku also comes in 8 different dual faced, glow and metallic finishes. This giving you a wide rage to choose from, depending on the time of the day you are fishing and water colour.

I have caught some lovely fish while jigging off the boat. They include Shad, Bonnies, Sada Sada and many more.

This jig has a very erratic action as you retrieve it off the bottom with a very fast jigging motion. You can also do big long and slow sweeps to give the jig a different action. You can retrieve this jig fast or slow without it loosing its rolling action.

The 40g jig is also ideal for throwing off the rocks or beach. I have caught Pick handle Barracuda, and shad off the bricks with this jig.

I would recommend this lure to anyone who is looking for some fun and lots of rod bending and Shimano music.

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Written by Craig Bashford

Storm Gomoku Dense

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The Storm Gomoku Dense Fire Tiger had me blown away with my first outing using the lure.I was amazed with the distance that the little 6gram lure can travel with a fast sinking fluttering action, I tried a slow twitching action with a pause in between which didn’t work out that well for me as I increased my speed of retrieve i would be guaranteed a bump or rewarded with a quality small species of fish. The lure for me should be fished with no quick release clips at all as I feel the clips tend to disturb the action of the lure, one should tie a straight forward Rapala knot with Double X 20lb fluorocarbon leader. The beauty of this little 4,8cm lure it can be fished with ultra light tackle in harbours and estuarys targetting all types of spieces from Russell Snapper, Perch, little Kingfish, Rock Salmon, Springer as it imitates a perfect little bait fish.

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Written by Justin Alborough.

Shimano Spheros 6000

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It’s taken me some time to find a sutiable universal fishing reel for me to use in many types of fishing application from spinning off the surf using it on the ski boat for tuna and dorado and suitable for slow pitch jigging and high speed vertical jigging.My next bit of excitement will be using the Spheros 6000sw for light tackle fishing in the surf with a 11ft Shimano Surf Exage which will be perfect for targetting kob, stumpies, rockcod  and many other species.I’v got all the conferdence when fishing with my Spheros with the strength and ability to land bigger stronger game fish with the new cross carbon drag system which can be tighened to 10kgs I feel it’s very important to have a smooth drag as one will part there leaders and pull hooks from a good fish because of a sticky and worn drag.As for looks the reel really sticks out with awesome Shimano quality finishes, it is a perfect all round fishing reel tough,smooth when retrieving your lures at higher speeds making your fishing more comfortable with the aluminium and rubber handle.I’v loaded my Spheros with 20lb Sufix advanced 832 braid which the reel takes 275meters with a 10meters of 40lb braided leader and 1.5meter of 50lb Double X floracarbon leader the braid is layered just perfect on the aluminium spool giving me all the conferdence when casting bigger spoons and lures with no wind knots and allowing me to load my rod alot more giving me that massive distance.The Shimano Spheros 6000Sw is for me a very affordable reel on the South African market as for the quality you getting it’s a big winner as long as you keep your daily maintenance up you will never be disappointed with Shimano reels.

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Shimano Crucial Rods – Bass

 

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The new Crucial series is one of the most versatile rod series ever created. It has both split grip and full grip handle designs. These rods feature Shimano’s C4S-HM blank which delivers unbelievable strength with extremely light weight. Each rod was tested to cover a wide variety of today’s best fishing techniques.

OVERVIEW

CASTING

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SPINNING

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As seen in the pictures these rods are not just great fishing rods to use but they are great to look at to! Just to run you through the rod: Shimano Crucial rods have always had a really good reputation for being tough rods from when they first came out about sixteen years or so ago. The new Crucial has been built not to disappoint this long standing reputation. The new Crucial is lighter and stronger than the previous model. On average it’s 28% lighter and yes you are hearing me correct it’s also 22% stronger on average! How is this possible? Well the new Crucial C4S-HM blank is made from carbon which is what the C stands for in C4S-HM and the 4 is for the four layer process. The S stands for slick carbon tape which is used on the inside and outside of the blank which is what plays a huge role in strengthening the rod but still being able to use minimal material to keep the rod lighter. The new Crucial has returned to cork handles as the earlier models had which more anglers preferred. It also has a custom reel seat to minimize the weight of the rod. To end off the overview the new Crucial has Fuji Alconite Guides which finish off the rod! All in all the new Crucial is a beast of a rod that’s not going to let you down!

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My Rod Selection

  1. 2x 6.8ft Medium Extra Fast- My light worming rod (8-10lb line)
  2. 1x 7.3ft Medium Extra Fast- My medium worming rod (10-12lb line)
  3. 1x 7.3ft Medium Heavy Fast- My medium-heavy worming rod (12-16lb line)
  4. 1x 7.11ft Medium Heavy Fast- My heavy worming/pitching rod (20-25lb line)
  5. 1x 7.2ft  Medium Heavy Extra Fast Spinning- My drop shot, wacky rod (10-20 braid leader with 6-12lb leader)
  6. 2x 6.10ft Medium Heavy Fast- My reaction bait (small cranks, jerk baits, underspin and small spinnerbaits) rod (10-12lb line)
  7. 1x 7.6ft Medium Heavy Medium Fast- My reaction bait (medium-deep cranks, 1/2oz lipless and bigger spinnerbaits) rod (10-14lb line)

*Fluorocarbon line used on all above rods

Personal Experience

I personally have a full set of these new Crucials and have fished for more than a season now with them. I have caught large mouth, spotted and small mouth with these rods and they just don’t disappoint! I have fished six consecutive days with these rods and because they are so light you really don’t get tired of using them! The feel of these rods are just great. Pulling fish from cover is made easy! Feeling reaction baits and detecting bites because of its sensitivity is also incredible. If you’re in the market for new rods I would highly recommend the new Shimano Crucial range. You will be pleasantly surprised!

Written By: Gareth Potgieter

 

Persistance is Key

The start of 2017 had been a really frustrating one for me on the fishing front. I had fished in 2 league events and a couple social sessions and yet to get a bite. I was feeling rather despondent as there were some awesome fish being landed by others. Although during the week and me being busy at work, I was still green with envy.

Eventually a weekend was about where the weather played along and I called up a mate and said we are going fishing to one of the spots on the upper south coast that had been producing some fish of late. We checked the tides and decided on the perfect time to get there. We would only be able to fish for a couple of hours before we ran out of water on the beach.

Upon arriving at the area I just had that feeling in my bones that today I would get the monkey off my back. The water was perfect. We had some color and a good formation. Didn’t take us long to put the rods together and get a bait in the water. We were expecting fireworks as every angler does when conditions are perfect. Unfortunately things were rather slow and we had to work hard for the fish we eventually landed.

Mike was the first one to get a bite, sticking to his roots and using his trusted Shimano Trinidad 20DC with 0.47 double X he went on with what seemed to be a smaller fish, with a rather tricky shorebreak to negotiate he waited for the perfect moment and we grabbed the juvenile sharpnose brown skate and pulled it up for a quick picture and then released the little guy tIMG-20170211-WA0007o fight another day.

Thinking this could be the change in our luck we quickly put out some fresh baits and it wasn’t long when I got an enquiry. The fish ate very funn
y and eventually pulled me flat and the line started to peel off my Shimano Stella. I was now confident that my VMC 9/0 tournament circle had him properly and I started to apply the brakes. I didn’t pull it too hard, for once I was going to enjoy fighting this fish. After all, it was now middle of February and I’ve just had my first bite of the year. A few minutes later we had the fish in the front and again waited for the right moment and pulled a beautiful female guitarfish out the water. Quick picture and a ORI tag, the fish was released safely.

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We called it quits after that as a rather large storm was rolling in and we had decided a early start the following morning before a South Westerly front hit us would be a good idea. Alarm bells rang at 3:45 and I packed the bait box and headed off to a new spot this time on the middle north coast of KZN. Seems I was late to the party, when I arrived Mike was already on. This wasn’t for long tho as the fish managed to find a rock in the deep and cut him off.

With a big bait in the water and with the sun now starting to peek up on the horizon, I picked up my spinning rod in the hopes of catching a queen mackerel or a Bonnie I could use for bait. Another friend had joined in on this and he had the first bite on the spoon. He unfortunately got bitten off, now we know the queen mackerels AKA snoek are in the area. A couple winds into my next cast I felt the big thump, I was on! Line peeling off my Shimano Stella 5000 and my 10ft shimano speedmaster bending. This was a decent fish. I took my time and waited for the right moment to pull the fish over the ledge. As it came over Craig was there and grabbed it by the tail. First snoek of the season landed! Or maybe not…It managed to wiggle itself loose and fell into a rock pool. Luckily for me the 8117ss VMC hook was firmly in the corner. Second time round we did not let go! Lovely specimen of 83cm which was a treat on the braai that evening!

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While this was happening, the guys fishing with baits were getting smoked. Two proper fish on and both cut off. Seems like the big sea we had the week before scoured out the reef a bit. Landing fish just became a lot harder. While I was getting my big stick ready again, Craig managed to hook a Bonnie on the spoon. I didn’t hesitate one second cutting its head off and letting it go on the Shimano Stella with 40lb power pro. Within minutes I had an enquiry, an extremely slow bite. I knew from word go it was one of 2 species and I locked up on the Stella and started to pull as hard as I could from word go. The fish didn’t take much line, it did however look for every stone it could find  and had me running in all directions to avoid getting cut off. I had pulled the fish to the front and it came to the surface on the back of the ledge. Our suspicions of the species had now been confirmed. It was a beast of a ribbon tail. How this fish hasn’t cut me off up to this point was rather surprising and I’m just hoping that it doesn’t do it. With a lot of pulling and me squealing in pain I managed to get the fish over the front ledge with a bit help from a few waves.

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The fish however still needed a bit of convincing to get into the shallows and it took a fair amount of swimming to help it miss the rocks on the way in. Eventually we had this beautiful fish in an area safe enough for us to handle her with the care she deserves. A couple pictures and an ORI tag she swam off strong to go torment another unsuspecting angler one day.

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Written by Stef Germann

Upside-down Fishing

tn_63 cm grunter taken of RAPALA Skitter V

It is the season when the sun stays above the horizon the longest – summer! This means that the days are longer and hence giving us more time to spend on the water. As an early riser, I love summer and one of my favourite summer activities is fishing for spotted grunter with surface lures. I call it “upside-down fishing” because it involves enticing a fish that usually has its snout tucked in the mud (blowing prawns out of their burrows) to change its behaviour and grab an artificial lure off the surface. As bizarre as it may sound, it is undoubtedly the most exciting top-water fishing one can do. At times it can be very visual and you will see the fish come up behind lure, with its back out the water as it inspects the lure. The best strike occurs when it engulfs the lure off the surface with a huge suck. However, most hook-ups come from a strike I call the “smooch” as it rises to the surface and gently sucks the lure in! The dominant strike, called the “kiss”, can get very frustrating because as the fish comes to look at the lure it plays ‘hard-to-get’ and disappears after giving it a little kiss.

This type of fishing requires patience and perseverance but once you master the technique you will become hooked! Herewith answers to questions I have asked myself over the years of upside-down fishing.

Why in summer? Although grunter can be caught throughout the year, they appear to be more active and far more willing to take surface lures in summer. It is most likely in response to temperature, as warmer water speeds up their metabolism and they feed more frequently…… and more aggressively.

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Where and when to fish?  To best place to target grunter on surface lures is over mud banks in shallow water with depths ranging between 0.5m to 1.5m. High tide fishing is best, but as long as there is water on the mud banks you have a chance of catching one. Look out for tailing fish to get an idea of where they are feeding. However, often they will be in very shallow water on the edges of weed beds. The best time of the day is very much tide dependent, but definitely early mornings and late evening (with the right tide) are the best.

What tackle to use? Spotted grunter are strong fighters, which is amplified when hooked in shallow water. Light tackle with a good drag is essential. My rig consists of a 2-piece 6 foot 6 inch Shimano crucial road, a Shimano Sustain 2500 reel equipped with 10 pound SUFIX 832 braid and a 0.45mm nylon leader.

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What lures to use? This is the secret to success. The typical “walk the dog” lure equipped with rattles are the best lures to use, however I have also caught them on a range on small very buoyant lures, including my old balsa wood RAPALA bass lures. With time I have learnt that lures with built-in rattles are by far the best. I have tried and tested many “W-t-D” lures with rattles and the results proved that the RAPALA X-Rap Walk was dynamite. Other good lures include the STORM Chug Bug retrieved with at a very slow pace. However, the new RAPALA Skitter-V is making waves… and probably the best lure currently available for “upside-down fishing”. Recently, I have also been successful with the STORM Arashi Wake Crank, which at slow retrieve speeds produces a rattle with a frequency that the grunter cannot refuse.

tn_65 cm grunter taken on RAPALA XRap Walk

So get out there and get addicted to “upside-down fishing”.

Written by Paul Cowley