Hephaestus fuliginosus

Sooty grunter (Hephaestus fuliginosus) is an Australia native freshwater species that inhabits the coastal freshwater creeks and rivers of northern Australia. Also known as black bream, they are considered the northern version of the Australian bass (not related).

Their distribution like the barramundi ranges from the Kimberley in Western Australia to the Burdekin River in Queensland. Some impoundments in Queensland have been stocked with sooty grunter; Eungella dam inland from Mackay is considered the best of these stocked fisheries.

Sooty grunter prefer to live in flowing water and use aquatic weed, timber and other structure to hide in and around, waiting to ambush any food that may swim past. They are a very popular angling species as pound for pound they fight well above their weight. The can be caught using both lures and bait.

In the rivers and streams, unweighted worms or freshwater shrimp baits drifted in and around the structure mentioned is a deadly method to catch them. This can also work in the stocked lakes, just be aware that an abundance of catfish in these waterways can mean few of the target species are caught.

Lure anglers can target them with an array of lure types; hardbody lures (shallow and deep running), surface lures, vibes and spinnerbaits are all popular depending on the waterway you are fishing. Fly anglers also do well using surface and wet flies.

Size and bag limits differ from state to state so it pays to check your local rules and regulations before fishing for them.

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