Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter! **[Edit - video added]**

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Ads22
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Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter! **[Edit - video added]**

#1 Post by Ads22 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:55 pm



I have had a hankering for Saratoga for a while and have been gradually hatching a plan to target some. This weekend had a mix of Coral Reef Fin Fish closure, Barra season closed and some winds causing trouble still along the coast. I decided it might be a good time for a fresh outing again. I took the Bandit for a spin in skinny water beyond Mount Morgan. I have spent plenty of time reading and watching videos for tips on trying to find these magical looking fish, and did a little google map hunting to find a likely spot.

I had trouble getting to sleep, then staying asleep, and ended up sleeping through my alarm which would have seen me arrive prior to sun up. Instead, I left home after sunrise in rainy conditions. As I neared my destination, after just over an hour on the road, the rain started to clear, but the clouds remained. Hopefully this would do well for some surface action, I thought. I launched into the first pool and had a little tap on surface almost immediately, using a black Kokoda Bat. I worked hard on surface switching between the bat, a Z-Man hard leg frog and a R2S Buggi Popper.
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I hooked one fish, but dropped it after a brief fight without seeing it. It wasn't until I pushed through to the second stretch of river, following a portage of almost 1km, that I landed my first fish. I had tangled my line and was dealing with it, being pushed by the wind and my line took off under the kayak. A catfish had engulfed the Buggi Popper that must have been warbling across the surface as I drifted. I handlined the catty in and released it.

After fixing up my tangle, I went back to casting and within a few casts I landed a Spangled Perch, perfect barra bait size! It was about 15 minutes later as I worked a corner that I got another hit. I was surprised to see that the fish was neither a 'toga, nor a catfish, but was giving a reasonable fight. After a little tussle, I landed a fat Leathery Grunter (I figured it was a grunter at the time, but wasn't sure if it was a Sooty or otherwise. Now pretty sure it was Leathery). This was a first for me, and certainly not expected. I suspected they might be present but it was definitely not my plan. Pretty cool to get it on surface, if only I hadn't switched the camera off moments before it hit!
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Almost four hours in, but at least I had a decent fish in the yak now! I got a few more hits on surface and was taunted by a freshwater long tom a few times without a hookup, as well as follow after follow by little banded grunter. After I landed the leathery, a local farmer had started his irrigation pump in this pool, so I pushed on to the next one. It was this pool that seemed to have the best of the fish, at least today! Before I set the kayak into the water, I could see small fish getting around at the outflow area. I had a quick feed then flicked a couple of casts into the area for a few follows from Spangled Perch and Banded Grunter. As the sun was now out, I changed over to a GG lure, hoping a natural coloured shallow diver might entice some luck. I pulled in two tiny spangles in a couple of casts then set off into the pool in the yak.
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After about 20 minutes in the pool, I flicked a cast near a submerged tree for about the fifth time. I tightened the slack and readjusted the kayak which had drifted slightly. As I recouped more slack I felt a bump. I paused for a moment, the raised the rod thinking I had hit a branch. The snag pulled bag. I was on. I was flicking the GG on my Pflueger Trion travel rod. Thankfully I had set it up with the moderate-fast middle and the medium-light tip (the heavier setup), as this fish had more weight than previous ones for the day. The battle lasted a couple of minutes, and I was soon aware that I was onto the target species. My first Saratoga was being chased around by a catfish, too. It was with great excitement that I netted this stunning looking fish. A measure (55cm), a few happy snaps, of course, and then sent her on her way. I was pretty happy with the leathery, but this had made the effort even more worthwhile!
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I continued to fish the pool pretty hard, and decided to give the spinnerbait a run. I had been picking up some arches on the sounder and this pool was up to 6m deep in spots. I sent a cast under creeper that hung virtually to the water from a large gum. After an initial raise of the rod tip, I let it sink deeper. As I lifted the rod tip, the drag screamed, and screamed, and screamed. What ensued was a mammoth battle. I couldn't figure out what on earth had my lure but it was heavy, and strong! It felt every bit like a barra, and while it wouldn't completely surprise me to find them here, it was perhaps very unlikely. I kept thinking it had to be a foul-hooked turtle. After about 4.5 minutes, I netted half of a massive catfish. This must be the biggest catty I've ever landed! After it had towed me around half of the pool, I towed it a little further to the bank, got a measure and photo and sent it back. This thing was HEAVY! I even contemplated taking it home for dinner! It could have fed the whole family, twice!
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After monster-catty , I moved further up the pool and worked more snags, with the occasional cast hitting the middle of the river. Soon, I hooked a fish that fought every bit like a jack, a vigorous, brutal fight, repeatedly heading back to the snag. Lo and behold, it was a mid-range catfish. It had busted off a hook from the rear treble, too. Not wanting to change the hooks mid-session, I continued to cast this GG around. I toyed with the idea of pushing up to the next pool, but without my tent handy, I thought it best to stick to this pool and head back soon. After all, I still had a big portage to get back, yet! A brief snack break and stretch the legs and I was back to it.

It took a little while, but I found a few fish following the GG back out of a snag and tried to tempt them. A decent sized longtom followed the next cast out. He was well aware the yak was there, and seemed to be eyeing me and the lure at the same time. I would lift it and he'd stop, then place it back in the water and he'd swim under it. I had worked the snag pretty hard already, but sent a cast back along the edge to see if the longtom would hit this time, risking my lure, I'm sure. I was about to give up on the retrieve when my daze was interrupted by a splash at the surface and an arching, golden mid-section of a chunky 'toga. It took off with great speed then launched. Thankfully, the hooks stayed put and the fight was on. This one took a while, with a couple of aerial maneuvers and plenty of digging deep. It took about 4 minutes to get this one close enough to net, but she was too big. I placed the lip grips in, and I had my second ever Saratoga! If I was stoked with the first one, I must have nearly wet myself (or worse) with this one. This girl went 72cm. I was beside myself with excitement! I had come with a plan and I seemed to stumble onto some success! I tagged this girl, I think I had got lost in the excitement of the first one and forgot to tag her. By now my video camera had died, but I managed to convince the battery to work long enough to get a shot before she departed, despite missing the hit and the fight. Thankfully, my phone was handy for some stills, too.
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It was a little while later that I was working the next snag down the pool when I saw a couple of fish bickering over my lure. I let it suspend for a while and two fish had another go at it and missed the hooks. Then, out of the depths came a larger fish, nailed it and headed straight back for the snag. I was on again. This one put up a fierce little battle as well. It took a few minutes to get it into the net. Another Leathery Grunter, this one going about 44cm and was a deadset football.
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I switched to a Z-Man Grubz in Motor Oil for a few minutes. I let lure sink while I put some things away in my tackle tray and hooked up before I could finish the job. Another small-mid sized catty. I did the same again after releasing this one and the same thing happened. I decided then to pack the gear away before starting to cast. I had a couple of bumps but no further hook-up. I switched back to the GG and withing about 10 minutes I hooked up again, another Saratoga. This one was smaller, in the 40-50 range, but I dropped it after a few seconds of the fight. I continued to work this pool for another half hour or so, then made my way back downstream to the ute. It was a slow trip with a few mandatory stops to fish. On the way I landed another spangle from the same snag as the previous one, as well as a large (about 6") Banded Grunter.

I worked back through some surface lures but couldn't manage a hit and I while I was keen to push on until dark, I was aware that my body wasn't keen for a drive home in the dark! So, I packed up and headed home with a beaming smile. I had landed my target, and my first Saratoga. But then managed to double up, and hook another. Plus I had landed my first Leathery Grunter, and doubled up with that. It was nice to have a good session, especially in the fresh! And my first fish on spinnerbait, it may have been a catty, but at least it was a horse!

Thanks for reading!

Cheers and happy fishing!

Adam
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Last edited by Ads22 on Thu Nov 23, 2017 12:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
Yak PBs
Estuary Cod 50cm; Mangrove Jack 49cm; Barra 108cm; Flathead - dusky 62cm; Flathead - bartail 51cm; Flounder 28cm; Forktail Catfish 60cm; Bream 32cm, Sand whiting 30cm; Striped Butterfish/Scat 20cm; Barred Javelin 47cm; Bull Shark 80cm; Queenfish 103cm; Tarpon 60cm; Golden Perch 47cm; Estuary Perch 33cm; Saratoga 72cm; Leathery Grunter 43cm.

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Re: Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter!

#2 Post by muzza111 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:56 am

Very successful trip Adam. I’ve never heard of a leathery grunter before.

Now get back to the salt, need some more Barra/jack reports :wink:
Yak PB's Kingfish 81cm Snapper 67cm Bream 37cm Groper 52cm Flathead 52cm

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Re: Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter!

#3 Post by mouse » Sun Nov 19, 2017 8:22 am

Barcoo Grunter (Scortum Grunter), also known as Jade Perch.
Scortum (don't mix up the spelling...) is Latin for skin, hide.

Nice one Adam :cool:
Cheers,
Kym

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Re: Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter!

#4 Post by Ads22 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 8:52 am

Thanks mouse and Muzza.

Pretty certain it's a Leathery aka Green-hide Jack apparently. Scortum hillii. They are pretty well confined to the Fitzroy system in CQ. The Barcoo range doesn't extend so far to the coast I believe. And these guys are definitely green. I thought maybe Barcoo when I was looking, too. Either way, I exceeded the 'grows to' on the big one! :grin:
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Yak PBs
Estuary Cod 50cm; Mangrove Jack 49cm; Barra 108cm; Flathead - dusky 62cm; Flathead - bartail 51cm; Flounder 28cm; Forktail Catfish 60cm; Bream 32cm, Sand whiting 30cm; Striped Butterfish/Scat 20cm; Barred Javelin 47cm; Bull Shark 80cm; Queenfish 103cm; Tarpon 60cm; Golden Perch 47cm; Estuary Perch 33cm; Saratoga 72cm; Leathery Grunter 43cm.

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Re: Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter!

#5 Post by lantana » Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:56 am

congrats on first Saratoga and that 2nd Toga is a beautiful fish
Lantana.

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Re: Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter!

#6 Post by HARTE » Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:52 am

Congrats Adam,
Great read and excellent pics!
Not often a plan works out when is comes to fishing,
beautiful fish, especially the Toga!
Cheers, Graham.

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Re: Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter!

#7 Post by Ads22 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:58 am

lantana wrote:congrats on first Saratoga and that 2nd Toga is a beautiful fish
Thanks, it was a pretty special feeling! I was crazy excited. And watching that second fish hit the GG right at the surface, only metres from the yak, was just magic. It's a pity it wasn't on video, but it's burned in my memory!
HARTE wrote:Congrats Adam,
Great read and excellent pics!
Not often a plan works out when is comes to fishing,
beautiful fish, especially the Toga!
Cheers, Graham.
I fully expected to doughnut, so was pleasantly surprised. I think the grunter was pretty cool, too, but the toga was just stunning.
Yak PBs
Estuary Cod 50cm; Mangrove Jack 49cm; Barra 108cm; Flathead - dusky 62cm; Flathead - bartail 51cm; Flounder 28cm; Forktail Catfish 60cm; Bream 32cm, Sand whiting 30cm; Striped Butterfish/Scat 20cm; Barred Javelin 47cm; Bull Shark 80cm; Queenfish 103cm; Tarpon 60cm; Golden Perch 47cm; Estuary Perch 33cm; Saratoga 72cm; Leathery Grunter 43cm.

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Re: Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter!

#8 Post by Dodge » Sun Nov 19, 2017 5:47 pm

Congrats on your pair of togas mate, they are such special fish to capture,

And what a great way to lose your toga virginity.
Cheers RICHO [the older one]
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Re: Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter!

#9 Post by Leper » Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:20 pm

Awesome report, we rarely get trip reports with those two species so a very special read. Thanks for taking the time to write it up. I was calling it for a Barcoo grunted as well until I read further down the thread. It’s a species I had never heard of!
Brad

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Re: Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter!

#10 Post by Leper » Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:20 pm

Awesome report, we rarely get trip reports with those two species so a very special read. Thanks for taking the time to write it up. I was calling it for a Barcoo grunted as well until I read further down the thread. It’s a species I had never heard of!
Brad

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Re: Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter!

#11 Post by Brez1 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 8:51 pm

ohhhhhh Toga :love: very jealous

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Re: Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter!

#12 Post by Mackayak » Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:05 pm

Great report and a very special moment going to be hard to up grade :love: :wink:
PB's From yak:
Fresh Water: Saratoga 51cm YES; Barra 110cm; Murray Cod 78cm; Golden Perch 45cm; Bass 44cm;EP 38cm
Salt Water: Snapper 62cm; Jew 83cm; Flathead 71cm; Mangrove Jack 37cm; Whiting 35cm; Bream 37cm; Trevally 38cm; Tailor 34cm;

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Re: Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter!

#13 Post by arpie » Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:24 pm

AWESOME report, Adam! Congrats on your new species - specially the Togas!! Brilliant! They are on my 'to catch' list!!

If you took any pics with the GG in it's mouth .... I am SURE that Rob Searing would LOVE to have a copy or 3!!! :wink:

Well done!

Roberta
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Re: Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter!

#14 Post by Ads22 » Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:32 pm

Dodge wrote:Congrats on your pair of togas mate, they are such special fish to capture,

And what a great way to lose your toga virginity.
Indeed, was the same thrill as my first barra! (or any barra I still get, I guess)
Leper wrote:Awesome report, we rarely get trip reports with those two species so a very special read. Thanks for taking the time to write it up. I was calling it for a Barcoo grunted as well until I read further down the thread. It’s a species I had never heard of!
Cheers, Brad. I was channelling my inner basso dragging the yak over the rocks and shallows for 1km or so. Was really good to get a result at the end of it!
Brez1 wrote:ohhhhhh Toga :love: very jealous
I have had the jealousy many times, for toga, as well as many other fish. It's nice to share the jealousy around! :lol:
Mackayak wrote:Great report and a very special moment going to be hard to up grade :love: :wink:
Cheers. It certainly can't hurt to try and upgrade, though, right? There are some pretty good specimens around these waters allegedly. I was talking to a mate who got the biggest barra (1330mm or so) in the Barra Bounty comp here recently and he said he hadn't landed any Saratoga before, only jumped some off. He can really fish, so it makes me feel pretty lucky to have found some on my first go targeting them!
arpie wrote:AWESOME report, Adam! Congrats on your new species - specially the Togas!! Brilliant! They are on my 'to catch' list!!

If you took any pics with the GG in it's mouth .... I am SURE that Rob Searing would LOVE to have a copy or 3!!! :wink:

Well done!

Roberta
Thanks arpie. It was (and still is) on my 'to catch' list. Now, to catch again. I'm thinking of a Cania trip to add Bass to the caught list soon, fingers crossed. I think I have either a photo or video of the lure in one of the mouths, will have to have a look and pass the picture to him - I like your thinking. Still stunned that a 44mm lure with half busted size 18 hooks held for a 72cm Saratoga on a good couple of minutes fight, and the hooks were still good to use afterwards!
Yak PBs
Estuary Cod 50cm; Mangrove Jack 49cm; Barra 108cm; Flathead - dusky 62cm; Flathead - bartail 51cm; Flounder 28cm; Forktail Catfish 60cm; Bream 32cm, Sand whiting 30cm; Striped Butterfish/Scat 20cm; Barred Javelin 47cm; Bull Shark 80cm; Queenfish 103cm; Tarpon 60cm; Golden Perch 47cm; Estuary Perch 33cm; Saratoga 72cm; Leathery Grunter 43cm.

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Re: Cherry 'Toga and Leathery Grunter!

#15 Post by rocketV » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:13 pm

What a great report! Well done on your first Toga, that is a species that I plan on chasing this summer too.
Fresh is best, but I don't mind some salt every now and then!


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