….When you know it’s time to go.

The research of Dr Paul Cowley and his team from SAIAB has shown that spotted grunter travel far less than previously thought. Or, at least, in modern times don’t migrate as they may have in the past. Results from one particular study showed that 95% of all recaptured grunter were caught within 3.5 km of their release site, with only 2% moving more than 100 km. (Read the full research review by JD Filmalter, here).

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While they may go into something of a hibernation state during the colder months (if you’ve seen them mass-schooling, hardly moving with their pectorals splayed, then you know what I’m talking about) and get super gun-shy to any kind of bait, live or artificial, grunter don’t all ‘leave’ estuaries in winter. What that means for the fly-fisher is that if you know just when to go some productive grunter fishing can be had, year-round.

If you’re willing to look past the dark, cold and grayness, (and know when to go) you could have Christmas in July

Mark Krige knows, so he goes:

To the Breede
“I rate the Breede, very very highly,” he says. “I have been very fortunate to fished around a little bit and the Breede is a wonderful fishery, from a big kob and grunter ‘potential’ point-of-view. And, to my mind, the absolute best place to catch a grunter on fly is out of Karoolskraal camp.”

I’ve had the most incredible fishing there, and funnily enough my best grunter-on-fly session there was in the middle of winter. They were climbing all over this little surface variation thing. And – what’s more – there wasn’t a single fish tailing.

Just before a front (the secret’s in the timing)
“You want that day just before the next front. You know, the proverbial ‘calm before the storm’ but not too calm. Not the shoulder days in between fronts. For me the perfect day is the last good day before a new front hits. When the prefrontal breeze already starts, so it was already blowing west.”

In our social media age of non-stop self-promotion and faux-modesty, there are a few anglers that seem to not only develop an aura that demands respect, but they somehow manage to do it off-line, above the wash, Mark is one of those. If you’ve heard any kind of story about him, chances are that not only is it true, but you’ve probably only got the half of it. Read more about the enigma and his grunter fishing (among other things) is in Issue #22 of The Mission.