The art of targeting spotties in the Wild Coast rivers on ultra light tackle

These fish often prove to be very fussy and a challenge to catch, this has lead to my journey and challenge of finding the best ultra light set up.

From a very young age one of my favourite fish to target on the rivers is the spotted grunter. At times this fish can be very easy to catch with the fish biting on every bait you put in the water, but most of the time they can prove to be pretty frustrating to catch, but when you have the pleasure of landing a decent size specimen the feeling is overwhelming.

Catching spotted grunters (“spotties” as we call them here along the wild coast) can be seen as an art form, in order to yield great success you have to approach this type of angling with precision and stealth, catching spotties can be seen as the specimen carp angling of the wild coast rivers. These fish often prove to be very fussy and a challenge to catch, this has lead to my journey and challenge of finding the best ultra light set up in order to catch spotties in the rivers along the wild coast.

Angling Techniques

Over the years you will hear a lot of talk from people about their ‘secret’ spots in the rivers, the ultimate fishing set up to use and the best baits when it comes to targeting spotties. From my experience and my point of view, the best advice that I can give any angler looking to target this species is to “keep it simple and keep it natural”. When fishing for spotties don’t make the mistake of over complicating your rig and angling techniques. I will touch on the traces and tackle a bit later under the ‘Tackle Talk’, but I advise keeping it as simple as possible.

Selecting your fishing spot

When selecting a spot for spotties, no matter which technique you choose to use to target them, you first need to find the ideal fishing spot. Most anglers tend to over think this, but it is quite simple; when looking for the ideal fishing spot for catching spotties, remember the following: spotties feed on organisms that live in the mud and sand such mud prawns, pencil bait, tape worms, etc. Look for a section of the river that has a mud bank or sand bank with signs of any of the organisms that a spottie would eat. Something to remember is that a spottie will feed in water as shallow as knee deep, therefore when selecting a spot look for a relationship between the depth and contour of the bottom where the bank slops from shallow water to deep water at a gentle gradient, while at the same time showing signs of the food a spottie would find there. I have two main angling techniques for spotties, drifting and anchoring.


When selecting a spot to anchor on to fish for spotties, you need to take the tide and bait you’re into account. As mentioned earlier you must fish on a spot with natural signs of the bait you’re using. When anchoring near a mud bank, you need to anchor in a manner that allows you to fish on the drop off and the same applies when anchoring near a sand bank.


In order to select a spot to fish when drifting for spotties, you must follow the same set of guidelines as when you select a spot to anchor on, with the difference that you’re going to drift over the spot. The best way to fish a spot on the drift is to use a bait like a sand or mud prawn along with a very small sinker or even no sinker at all and drift either along the drop off or drifting over the drop off.

Tackle Talk

As mentioned earlier, my favourite tackle to use for spotties is ultra-light tackle. Looking back over the last few years I set myself a task to find the best ultra light set up for spotties; after much fun and long days on the water I have undoubtedly found the best set up for this purpose. Here is a detailed breakdown of all the tackle and baits I use for spotties::

  • Rod: Shimano Clarus 5’6 ultra-light
  • Reel: Shimano Symetre 1000FL
  • Main Line: Double X 4kg IGFA rated tournament line
  • Trace Line: When selecting line to build your traces with, you must take into consideration that a spotted grunter is a very fussy and finicky fish that will be scared away with the slightest sign of danger; with this in mind you want to choose a line that either disappears in the water or blends in with the natural surroundings to make your bait seem as natural as possible. My personal choice is to choose a line that is invisible in the water, my choose of line would thus be Suffix Invisible (clear) leader line.
  • Swivels: Centro Brass Rolling Swivels (power swivels) – Nickel black
  • Hooks: Size 2 VMC Chinu eyed hooks (7136BN)
Swivels: Centro Brass Rolling Swivels (power swivels) – Nickel black
Hooks: Size 2 VMC Chinu eyed hooks (7136BN)


There are many different baits that can be used for spotties, but as I mentioned earlier, I like to keep things as simple and natural as possible. My top three baits for spotties is mud prawn, sand prawn and pencil bait. What follows is a description of how to get these three baits, how to use then and where to use them:

  • Mud Prawn: Mud prawn is by far my favourite bait for spotties. It can be caught using a prawn pump by pumping the prawn holes along a mud bank, depending on the tide you may have to pump deep into the mud to get your prawns. Mud prawns are the only bait I use when drifting for spotties and generally the area that you’ll use a mud prawn is along mud banks where there are visible signs of mud prawns.
  • Pencil Bait: Pencil bait can be caught using a long piece of wire with a small curved hook on the end to latch onto the bait. They can be found along shallow sand banks in a hole that is shaped like the numbers 8. They work the best when fishing along a drop off next to a sand bank. You generally leave the shell on and thread the hook through the shell and soft meet several times (this also prevents small fish from eating your bait off).
  • Sand Prawn: Sand prawns can be caught using the same method as used to catch mud prawn, except they will be caught along sand banks. These work be when anchored on the drop off a sand bank either throwing them into the shallows on the sand bank or on the deeper side of the drop off.

The next time you go out targeting spotties, just remember this; keep it simple, keep it natural and have fun!

Yours in angling

Kyle Schmidt

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