Red letter day – Grunter heaven

Chris Bladen Sculpture Spotted Grunter Breede River
Chris Bladen Sculpture Spotted Grunter Breede River

Red letter day – Grunter heaven

I’ve had a fair bit of luck when it comes to fly fishing, but the spotted grunter (Pomadasys commersonnii), a local saltwater species we target on fly in our estuaries, is another story! They’re known as our ‘permit’ because they can be so difficult and unpredictable. You sometimes hear about a lucky guy who caught five or even more grunters in a day, but I haven’t caught five in my whole life – and I’ve spent countless hours targeting them.

A couple of weeks ago my family and I went to the Breede River for a long weekend.

During the first three days I was greeted with the normal grunter behaviour. I walked for miles looking for feeding/tailing fish and carefully cast a fly at the few I saw – nothing new, no results.

Rena suggested that I stay on for a couple of days to get some sculpting done in peace and quiet. On the morning she and the girls went back to Cape Town, I immediately went looking for fish! I drove my truck to the river, then had to decide whether to go upriver or down. I picked down, as most of my previous exploration was upstream. When I got to the mudflat it was the usual scene, with the odd telltale movement of fish. I started casting flies, but with little success. Now and again one would come and have a closer look at the presentation, but then spook off at pace. I finally had a bit of luck – a spotty ate my fly and I was in heaven! I carefully released him and continued fishing, with nothing else to show.

The next day I went to the same spot, but earlier into the tide. With my second cast, a grunter smashed my fly so hard that it broke my leader. I tied on a new tippet and fly, and within a couple of casts I was into lovely specimen. Now I was really in heaven – two grunters in as many days! The next two and a half hours were out of this world – I managed to catch a total of seven spotted grunters! I suppose it had a lot to do with being in the right spot at the right time and tide, with the colour of the water and salinity being perfect, and who know how many other factors could play a role – but I thank my luck that all these conditions were perfect.

Long live the spotted grunter!

NewsletterStay reeled!

Sign up for our quarterly newsletter with updates from the studio, exhibitions, new sculptures and some fishing adventures.