With a few days to spare we booked a very last minute getaway to Mission Beach even though we knew the forecast wasn’t the best with expected rain.

The first day was ok, windy as but not much rain. The next morning was another story with blown out beach conditions and pre cyclonic type weather. I decided we should head out to Tully, where it mostly rains anyway and try to get out of the wind and explore some of the beautiful freshwater in the region.

Well there was no escaping the wind and rain and we fished a few spots very quickly as we ventured around the place exploring. Such a beautiful part of the world and I’m going to head back in better conditions sometime and actually get some proper fishing done.


Laura having a cast from the rocks at Mission Beach.


A Tully stream full of jungle perch


Off the beaten track up Misty Mountain Trail


Up in the hills


This hole was 5m+ above the water level and there was a sooty grunter living in it! So Cool!!


Good looking snag, no fish home wanting my lure tho!


Laura having a cast or four…


Struggling to keep a sooty from busting me off on the rocks in very fast flowing water


Decent sooty


Nice place to fish




Waterfall and tree growing out of a rock face


Algae ridden local Tully creek


With scrawly weather around Cairns, we journeyed out west where the rain doesn’t fall (often). Ryan is a sooty grunter virgin so I though best we do something about that. After explaining how quick he will need to turn them and making sure he’s running enough drag we had reached a spot that warranted a cast or two. I cast out one of my favourite little surface lures, a Tiemco Bass Mania in Frog Pattern. I had barely turned the handle when bam I was on. Even after explaining how hard sooty grunter fight and preparing Ryan (and reminding myself) I was surprised by the fight! Took a quick pic and sent him on his way.


Just around the first bend and Ryan was onto his first sooty. There were heaps sitting in this spot and even though Ryan was keen to see me throw a lure at one of his mates, I was happy to watch and see the fish drawn up with his sooty. There were a few black beasts lurking deep.


Even though they kept hitting the lures, nothing committed and sadly this kind of summed up todays fishing. Especially for me, lots of half hearted hits.

Next stretch up I landed my second sooty and last fish of the day. I would have had at least 15 hits on the different lures I was using but no commitment. Quite unusual for sooty grunter.


Up a little further and we found an undercut bank with some serious sooty grunters lurking around, big and wise. Ryan had at least 3 hits and multiple boil ups behind his lure but they were just too smart and worked out what was happening. After persisting for a while too long, the decision was made to try another spot completely.

Ryan caught all the fish from here on out. Including this interesting little guy below, a spangled perch I assume, but the split tail has me intrigued. I saw a lot of these fish today, as well as archerfish and some others I’ve never seen before.


Didn’t take Ryan long to work out where the sooties were sitting! He cast into the same spots as me and pulled fish. Didn’t matter what lure I tried, just wasn’t my day 😀




With no drinking water and the terrain ahead looking a tad too full on, we headed back to the car. Spotted ‘skippy’ on the way.



With weather like the last few days we’d be mad not to get amongst it before the weekend crowds ruin the fishing and fun. We headed South to the freshwater and as usual it did not disappoint. Alex was in fine form, catching lots of fish and bounding through the scrub with enthusiasm. I didn’t catch too many and left the exploring to Alex. I was very happy just to be standing in cool water taking in the surrounds. The first spot saw a couple of Khaki bream each and many follows from wise jungle perch. Alex spotted the largest JP’s he’s ever seen at one spot and so he’ll be back no doubt.

Here’s some photos to give you a small idea of the natural beauty.








We moved onto another spot where Alex caught two jungle perch and a sooty grunter from the same hole.




Then we drove to the next section upstream and just near the road bridge I did a quick check to see what was lurking. Threw my lure in before I was within sight of the fish and noticed a heap of followers with some much larger swirling around beneath. Not to blow my cover I quickly retreated and took another angle. Casting upstream just past the snag holding fish, up under the bridge on the far side I nailed the perfect cast! Three twitches and a fairly fast retrieve back and I was on. The was a good fish I could tell. Suddenly my new rod didn’t feel so strong and she fought me all the way to the bank, in my head I was thinking ‘very big sooty’. When I saw it and I was delighted to see a thick set, very pretty jungle perch. Big mumma! Alex had already taken off so I just snapped a few pics from the bank then released her. I’d loved to measure her but I can safely say 38-39cm based on a few calculations using the lure length as reference. I will claim it as a PB anyway because what the photos don’t show is the girth on this fish, she was heavy. All the jungle perch up here were very thick and healthy.


Zipbaits Rigge 56 custom tune strikes again!


Alex walked as far as the eye can see up the creek in the photo above and then some. I wasn’t so keen and the last few days have taken their toll on my enthusiasm.





We saw lots of sooty grunter, khaki bream, jungle perch and a fairly large tarpon here and it’s a great spot for a swim. Safe to say, we’ll be back.


Spotted this ugly bugger on the way, anyone know what type it is?


Here are some of the other photos that were on Mark’s camera to complete the initial report at http://www.australianfish.com.au/reports/atherton-tableland-fnq-sooty-grunter.html

As you can see some of these sooty grunter are in amazing health with blue and green around their heads.



Had a good session fishing for sooty grunter up the Atherton Tableland today. Taking the long road, we travelled a fair way and tried some new spots that we will be revisiting again very soon. Covering some gnarly terrain, the constant threat of crossing paths with a snake was very real.

One takeaway from today is how underrated the sooty grunter really is, they have it all for a catch and release species. They hit hard, fight harder, play very dirty, take most lure types readily and bend trebles. What more could you ask for in a fish? Most anglers think mangrove jack are strong, sootys would pull a mangrove jack backwards up current all day long.

Managed some video footage of a sooty off the surface and some ok pics. Mark came along and most of the photos are on his camera so might have to make do with what little I took. Caught a fair amount of sooties. Most of the fish were in very good health and some astounding fighting abilities from real small fish (even more so than usual). **I’ve added the rest of the photos here**

The first fish caught on a total suicide cast between two logs was an absolute brute, but as I scrambled for the camera he flicked off the lure and flapped his way home off the bank. It hit so hard and took drag on a locked reel before burying me deep in a snag. Got it back out and onto the bank momentarily. I love sooties!! After this as a first fish expectations were high, however he was probably the biggest we saw for the whole day with Mark catching a couple of crackers pretty close.

I managed to wade across a creek after Mark saw a 4.5 foot snake and crossed himself, all was well until the last part. Suddenly it got deep, really deep and in I went, everything except the rod and reel got wet. New GoPro3 (not in it’s waterproof housing), iPhone, car keys, wallet, everything. Somehow all were salvaged and working, after some tense hours the GoPro came back to life. Amazing.

Below is a picture of the 2nd fish caught.


Today was the perfect test for my Graphiteleader GVIS-67-ML rod, I recall ripping a fish out from an undercut bank thinking, ‘NO, not THAT lure’ as it tried to bury me deep in a snag! The rod has some serious grunt for something so light, it’s easy to underestimate.

Below is a short video of another sooty grunter taken on a fizzer surface lure, a Tiemco Bass Mania Frog Pattern, 12lb leader + braid, medium light gear and 2000 Shimano Vanquish reel. Sooties love a fizzer that’s for sure!

A few more pics…

Marks best of the day on a fizzer.

Picture 47


Mark with a tiddler on his ‘disco freddy’ lure that was lost to leader knot failure. RIP Freddy.


Typical terrain. Is that a snake?




A couple of little ones that were impressive fighters.


Hahaha, I wore crocs. They are perfect for these terrains, sometimes the Japanese riding boots just don’t cut the mustard!


To be continued…


Mark & myself hit a local freshwater creek again. This time we did just over 11km walking through the water over slippery rocks & interesting terrain. We fished from around 7am until 5pm.

Starting by heading upstream, I caught a massive JP that got free before I could snap a picture. I caught some good fish heading upstream, but when we went back not much for me & I lost the best lure I own for these waters. Mark caught a lot of fish on the way back. Needless to say heading upstream was a better option in my opinion as it doesn’t spook the fish. Mark thought differently obviously.

Unfortunately the new camera is taking some getting used to. Also some photos were not taken at all (Mark can’t work the camera), what can I say, we are awesome cameramen!



















Yesterday will go down as a trip to remember for all the wrong reasons.

After driving for quite some time we arrived at our fishing destination for the day. There are many freshwater creeks in the area, however this one has it all. Beautiful gin clear water that shone lime green as the sun pieced the dense tropical forest fringes. The terrain is ever changing from shallow fast current with overhanging trees, to more open deep rock lined waters with large back eddies, to small fast running bottle necks, intermixed with sand & boulders of all sizes. Perfect, apart from the overcast day and rain. Target for the day, sooty grunter Hephaestus fuliginosus, khaki bream Hepahestus tulliensis and jungle perch Kuhlia rupestris.


After a few casts Mark was straight onto a small sooty grunter that fought well. A few more casts and Mark was on again, his little Rapala trout lure was working well in the fast current. We ventured downstream, Mark wading downstream in waist deep water and I cut through the more open parts of the freshwater canopy popping out where I could get a cast in. I stopped and looked as the sun started to shine on one of the most magnificent sights I’ve ever seen. Emerald green water and sublime surroundings, ‘I have to take a photo, this is amazing’, I muttered reaching for my camera. Turn on the GoPro and beep, beep, beep, it turns itself off. Try again, no response – flat battery. Not the best start to a catch and release session so far from home.

By now Mark was some distance away and outcasting me 10 to 1 and I hadn’t caught a thing. So I changed lures, took a deep breath and launched myself into the cool fast flowing stream. Wow, how un-coordinated am I? I stammered from rock to rock in my trusty japanese riding boots, all the while trying desperately to keep my new reel out of the drink. Something didn’t feel right. No it wasn’t the reel, nor the fact Mark was using my beloved Daiwa Exist Hyper Custom 2508 that was worrying me, it was my chosen footwear. Normally my thongs are the ultimate highly fashionable fishing attire but this was a bad move. Past the point of no return off I went downstream into the unknown.

After a few land based detours around water too shallow or deep we found the fish to be quite spread out and their usual super aware selves. We pulled a few more ok small sootys before they started getting larger. Now I don’t know how many times it’s been said, but reading about it doesn’t do justice, these fish fight hard. A small sooty can put some serious hurt on an angler, the same sized mangrove jack you can water ski in with the drag settings required to land larger sootys.

A sooty hit my lure and started taking line on a nearly locked drag, finally, unbelievable I though, however the moment was short lived as I lost him mid stream as he glanced off a rock and flicked the hook.

Another half and hour downstream and the creek got a little deeper, we both changed lures to something a little deeper diving and this proved a good choice with some solid little sootys. We managed to take a couple of photos and then set off again. Now we’d been wading through some pretty deep water, stopping to take check of the situation on a rive bank, I noticed my tackle box quarter full of water. Worse still for Mark and our trip, his phone was now completely drenched in his dry box and wasn’t working. This is the second time Marks so called dry box has failed. Luckily I invest in some pretty expensive solutions and my trusty sandwich baggy did the trick, staying dry (again)! Oh well, no camera, one phone, rain, onward we march. At least we were catching fish!


Along a fairly nondescript section of river bank we both caught a few more sootys. Some had the blubber lips, some did not (khaki bream + sooty grunter). So two clearly different species. Mark put a cast into some tiger country and snagged his lure, ‘should I get it?’ he asked, to which I gave my normal response, ‘of course’, I love quality entertainment. So Mark swims over and lets out this little ‘shiiiiit’ as the current fires him directly at the snag. How he didn’t hurt himself I’ll never know, but he managed to hold on somehow and start retrieving line working back towards the lure. As he got closer to the lure, unknown to me, his shorts started to slide and nearly came off. I was just wondering what was taking him so long, so he ended up with a treble hook half in his finger, almost lost his pants, but the lure was retrieved. Took a good hit on the shin after letting go of the snag and I almost regretted telling him to get the damn lure. But it was entertaining – yet again!


At the end of this section was a narrowing s shaped bend. Wading through the fastest & deepest current we’d experienced so far I cast my Duo Slaver Shad 55 at into a nearby back eddy close to a logjam. I only had time to one or two very small sharp rips to wake the waiting fish up then I had to wrestle the lure back across the raging current. Rip, rip, wrestle the lure against the current about 1m and BANG! I was on, I pretty much waterskied this little fish in to find the cutest little jungle perch had smashed my lure so hard he’d effectively sown his mouth shut with both single hooks! I quickly released him and fired another cast at the same spot, almost in disbelief that a fish could swim against the current and take a lure, sure enough, I caught another and another before moving on. Just all small guys, but we had finally found the jungle perch. Skipping the next section after some fruitless casts into likely spots, Mark fired out a long cast that was nailed, he landed a decent little jungle perch after a solid fight through the rocky current.

As we crossed the river at this next bend the current was even faster, much faster. I opted to drift with it and Mark fired a cast downstream straight into the heavy part of the torrent. Bang, he was on, now how a fish could swim in this defied belief, but sootys do that – they defy belief! Another solid sooty to Mark! This is where it got interesting, I’m mid creek, current raging, trying to stay upright, not drop the reel in the water and keep my footing. Wearing thongs was pretty stupid, each time I lift my foot the current moved my foot about 40cm downstream no matter how small and how hard I tried to keep it there. It wasn’t looking good! Then it happened. Lifting my foot I lost balance and a thong. Mark got a hand on it but missed it and we watched it fire off downstream at a great rate of knots. ‘It’s ok’ Mark says, ‘we can get it in the calmer water downstream’, before he could even finish the sentence I’d lost the other thong and was on my side. Saved the reel though and floated around like a bloated animal stuck in floodwaters before I regained a footing and escaped the torrent! We never recovered the first thong.

Ok, no camera, no footwear, this isn’t looking good. To make matters worse, it was becoming too deep to wade and we had to bush bash. I trotted on for a while, really not getting far as it wasn’t that easy barefoot and I was freaking out a bit as to what I could encounter on the bottom of my feet. Mark says ‘here, use these my feet are like rocks’ and so I took his crocs. Oh the shame, but they actually worked really well (for this purpose only of course)! We set off and Mark suddenly fell. Weird I though! He’d stepped into this hole you couldn’t see that swallowed his entire lower leg just over his knee. My reel took some of the brunt of the fall and was now a less than mint Daiwa Exist Hyper Custom (oh no!), more importantly Mark somehow had dodged a serious injury and just had a bruised shin. Amazing! He could have so easily hurt his knee, ankle, or foot and we really would have been up shit creek!

After gathering ourselves we started trekking through some seriously dense and unforgiving terrain. Light was starting to fade fast and it was getting THICK. Firing a casts out almost simultaneously, I noticed LOTS of follows and from much bigger fish. I dropped a total beast, and another large model. Mark hooked and dropped a couple and it was almost last cast. Mark tied on a surface lure and we watched as jungle perch and sootys followed and took swipes at the lures. Mark hooked a horse of a jungle perch it was huge and easily the best sooty of the day, both shook the hooks at his feet. Bugger!

Anyway last cast was exactly that as we really needed to get out of dodge and fast, light had faded and we didn’t know which way out except to the left. We couldn’t go back, forward and with dark fast approaching we just made a bee-line hard left for the road. This is where it got a tad spooky, snakes, spiders, wet, one of us with no shoes, one phone (which later turned out to be down as Telstra lines had been cut north of Rockhampton), no torch and dense jungle to get through. No choice but to do it, we covered ground fast and came to what looked like a clearing, then it hit us, the clearing was just a MASSIVE patch of lantana and unpassable grass that there was no way we’d go near. Panic set in and we were starting to actually get scared, it was almost dark in there. I suggested we go around to the right and see if we can get past it. Sure enough and amazingly, we could. Turns out we had found an opening to the ONLY patch of cane field that had been cleared along the entire creek. How did we manage that we will never know. Crisis averted we walked for about 3 or 4 kilometers back to the car and headed home. Had we not have walked out near a cleared cane field, we would have to walk some cane. Mark used to live on a cane farm and was a snake keeper so we knew this was to be avoided at all costs, especially in that location, weather and just on nightfall!

Many things could have gone wrong here and we both learned a lot from this experience.

  1. Always take a headtorch
  2. Always take appropriate footwear
  3. If it needs to be waterproofed, make sure it is, double sure
  4. Take a charged camera or phone
  5. Don’t lend anyone beloved reels, even mates (I hope you’re reading this Mark :p No, all good, can’t wait to use your Stella!)
  6. Anything can happen, prepare for the worst (broken bones, snake bites, spiders, getting lost etc.)

A simple trek can soon turn south very fast. Welcome to the jungle!


We went back to the Russell to toss some lures around snags with Mark. Getting colder and less action but still got a few.

Early morning Mangrove Jack


Sooty grunter.


Unusual catch, good fighter called for a much larger fish. Spikey bugger.

Football shaped Sooty, this guy was so fat Mark couldn’t believe the weight of him. Good fight too on 1kg outfit.

Sooty Grunter with a weight problem

Baby Mangrove Jack

Good tarpon on very light gear

Horse Tarpon

Decent sized Crocodile, not scared by us.