Commonly referred to as Javelin fish!
The spotted grunter or javelin fish as it is some times referred to is one member of the large family of grunters and is generally encountered whilst fishing for other northern estuary species such as barramundi and mangrove jack etc. As their name suggests grunter make a soft grunting sound when handled out of the water. The name javelin fish comes from the shape of the anal spine.
Spotted grunter can be located in most northern estuary systems throughout both the Pilbara and Kimberley regions in Western Australia and also in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Javelin fish or spotted grunter grow to a maximum size of around 70cm and weigh as much as 4kg although most fish commonly encountered throughout Australia’s north average around 40 – 50cm in length.
Spotted grunter prefer to frequent shallow estuary systems or coastal bays and can often be located in deeper sections with reef bottoms.
There are two separate species of javelin fish or spotted grunter. The first is the silver javelin fish which is distinguished by its bright silver colouration and small dark spots which are scattered as opposed to those of the second barred javelin fish who as its name suggests possesses the spots in a more barred pattern across the body. All javelin fish species have a square cut tail that is not forked or curved.
Spotted grunter are reasonably good eating.
Spotted grunter are feisty little battlers when hooked on light tackle close to heavy cover.
Light graphite and fibreglass rods that will cope with gel spun and braided lines rated from 4 – 10kg are ideally suited to targeting spotted grunter and when coupled with quality overhead or spin reels in the 4000 – 6500 class make excellent outfits for throwing both baits and lures for most northern creek species. Larger outfits spooled with heavier 10 – 12lb nylon line can also be used when targeting larger fish around heavy cover with baits but will struggle to cast small hard bodied and soft plastic lures. Fluoro carbon leaders with breaking strains of 15 – 40lb should also be joined to mainlines via an improved albrite knot and not only prevent the fish from seeing your brightly coloured main line but also help from being chaffed of on rough underwater structures.
As spotted grunter are typically encountered around Australia as a by catch rather than an intended target species most northern estuary baits such as fresh fish strips and cut pieces of squid are suitable for most situations as are also soft plastic and hard bodied lures.
Keep an eye out for salt water crocodiles whilst landing and releasing fish by hand in northern estuary systems!
Rising or full tides are best suited for targeting spotted grunter around most areas although some deep water locations will also produce good numbers of fish during low and falling tides. New moon phases are also preferable for most fish species including grunter.