FNQ Fishing Guide
Vinnie Versfeld has fished all over the world but has been a keen fisherman, guide and social media personality in the Townsville area for 14 years. For the last couple of decades Vinnie has particularly enjoyed fishing for Burdekin River sooty grunter on lures and flies – a passion he shares in this interview.
Vinnie’s Top Sooty Grunter Fishing Tips
- Sooties are very aggressive fish and aren’t too fussy about lures, making them a great target species for beginners and kids. However, they’re hard fighting and entertaining enough to catch that more seasoned anglers won’t be disappointed!
- Don’t forget to fish at your feet. Vinnie notices that many beginners will walk to the waters edge and try to cast to the other side, when there are often fish right at their feet.
- Sooty grunter can be caught right through the year and almost any conditions. The only time when they are typically shut down is when a significant flood event happens.
- Finding fish is a matter of identifying ambush points where the grunter can lie in wait to pounce on baitfish and other morsels brought down by the currents. They are competitive and will grab a lure fast to beat their school mates to the feast.
- Have a look at the 25-30km stretch of river upstream of the Burdekin Falls Dam on Google Earth. There are mul;tiple publ;ic access points where the road meets the river, as well as some public camp grounds that give good access. All of this area is fishable and holds good stocks of 40-45cm fish with the occasional larger specimen.
- Sooties love noisy lures and will take surface lures right through the day at times, making for good visual fishing.
- These are tough fish but usually easily subdued once they’re out of the structure. Fish as heavy a drag as your gear will allow and be prepared that you might need to swim to unwrap them from a snag if they get the upper hand.
- The Burdekin River holds a population of endemic small-headed grunter, which aren’t found anywhere else in the world and put up a good account when hooked whilst targeting sooties. Be sure and release them unharmed to protect the population.
- Switching out treble hooks for Owner inline single hooks reduces damage to fish that will be released and reduces the risk of the angler copping a hook in the hand while unhooking fish and facing a long walk out -ending the day short.
Land-based Sooty Grunter Fishing Tackle
- Vinnie takes his clients into tight jungle areas and prefers shorter (6′) rods in these close quarters. However, for the most part the Burdekin is pretty open and he’ll fish with a 7 foot, 3-5kg rod, 1000-2000 size reel and 2-4lb braid. A 10lb fluorocarbon leader completes the setup, but Vinnie will sometimes fish a 15-20lb leader if the fish are in structure – the water is usually not gin clear and the fish are rarely leader shy.
Top Sooty Grunter Fishing Lures
- A small, #3 gold blade jig spinner with a 1/8 oz head, 1/0 hook and Z-Man Lures Greasy Prawn 2.5″ Grub is hands down the most effective lure for sooty grunter fishing. They are very versatile and easy to use either by slow rolling, hopping along the bottom or helicoptering into deeper water. They have great snag resistance and excellent hookup rates on sooties.
- 3″ Z-Man MinnowZ paddle tail soft plastic on a regular 1/8 jig head is a good option, on dark days go for darker colours and on brighter days go for more natural baitfish colours.
- Gold Rattling Spots are a good choice for sooty grunter fishing as they often seem to respond to noise.
- This species will also take small surface lures such as Rebel Poppers up to 10cm in length, Heddon Tiny Torpedos or even 2.75″ Z-Man Finesse Frogs even during the winter months. The latter can also be fished below the surface using small TT SnakelockZ heads.
- Gidgee Lures Kelpies are a great locally made surface walker that are also deadly on sooty grunter.