Fitzroy Basin Saratoga

by Nathan Johnston | Australian Lure Fishing

Tweed River Mangrove Jack Map

Nathan’s Top Saratoga Fishing Tips

  • Saratoga fishing is a year-round option in the Fitzroy basin. Visiting anglers find the fishing easiest when the rivers are low and clear as fish are spread throughout the system and are easier to fond. Locals find the fishing exceptional when the river is in flood and the water is dirtier – saratoga tend to be concentrated in pockets when this happens and are hard to find, but usually feed aggressively once found
  • Thousands of kilometres of river system int he Fitzroy basin support saratoga populations, but access can be limited due to private property. Storages provide easier access for visiting anglers, but watch our for crocs.
  • Saratoga are surface or near-surface feeding fish and the biggest mistake you’ll make is fishing too deep. Keep offerings on the water surface or within a metre or so of the surface for the best results.
  • The mouth of a saratoga is very bony and it can be hard to get a hook to set properly. Use small, sharp, round bend hooks and make sure your line, leader and rod are capable of driving a hook into a tough mouth. Double-ringing hooks or using longer shanked hooks can help resolve this issue.

Nathan’s Saratoga Fishing Outfit

  • For surface fishing Nathan prefers a reasonably short (6 to 6.5ft) reasonably fast taper rod in the 8kg line class with a 2500 spinning reel. This allows him to cast small lures well and set the hooks in the bony mouth of a saratoga.
  • During the summer months when the fish drop a little below the surface he uses a baitcaster to fish spinnerbaits and other lures, preferring a Shimano Curado reel and matching rod.
  • A 15 lb braided line gives the balance between lightness, lure action and strength to drive home hooks and vertical lift fish when necessary.
  • For protection against abrasion by timber structure and the rough mouth of a saratoga, Nathan uses FC 100 and FC rock fluorocarbon leaders in the 20lb breaking strain range.

Nathan’s Best Saratoga Fishing Lures

  • Lucky Craft Sammy (65mm) is a top choice for sight casting to cruising saratoga. Fish it walk-the-dog style and try and land the lure under overhanging vegetation where saratoga are waiting for falling insects.
  • Celta Inline Spinners work very well in the middle of the day in summer or in winter when the fish might be slightly deeper in the water. Use a 10g ize and work it at a reasonable pace in the top 1m or so of water.
  • Zman 2.75″ Finesse FrogZ are deadly on saratoga and will give plenty of action on fish of all sizes. Use a TT Chinlockz jig head and throw the lure deep into heavy cover. Important to know that because you can fish tight in cover you’ll get a lot of strikes with this style of lure, but the hook set rate can be poor due to the upward facing hook point.
Nathan Johnston

Nathan Johnston

Fishing Guide, Aquatic Scientist, Saratoga Specialist

Nathan Johnston is an Aquatic Scientist and Fishing Guide who’s been fishing the rivers, creeks and storages of the Fitzroy Basin since he was a small child. He writes for Fish and Boat Magazine, is the President of Queensland Sports Fishers and his newly formed guiding business specialises in helping his clients target Southern saratoga and other species in his Central Queensland stomping ground.

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