70 years of helping people to care for our ocean

Fishy Fridays – Spotted Grunter

By Judy Mann

Spotted grunter is probably one of South Africa’s most popular estuarine angling fish species. The name grunter comes from the sound they make when removed from water which is made by rubbing their pharyngeal plates in the back of the throat together.

They are found along the entire eastern seaboard of South Africa south to False Bay. Spotted grunter depend on estuaries. They generally spawn at sea and the newly hatched fry swim into estuaries at an early age. Juveniles remain resident in estuaries for the first 3 years of their lives where they feed on the rich supply of molluscs and crustaceans. Sometimes grunter can be seen “tailing” in shallow water.

This is when the grunter stand on their heads and blow water into sand prawn burrows, one of their favourite foods. When they reach maturity at around 40 cm total length, adult grunter move out of estuaries into the adjacent surf zone to spawn. The famous grunter runs of St Lucia and other large estuarine systems, which normally take place during September and October each year, are often comprised of large shoals of post spawning adult grunter that are returning to the food rich estuaries to feed.

Spotted grunter have been heavily impacted by estuarine degradation along the east coast and are particularly vulnerable to illegal gill-netting. The size limit is 40cm total length and the bag limit is 5 fish per person per day and spotted grunter may not be sold. Please limit your catch and don’t catch your limit of this fine angling fish.

Read our Spotted grunter fact sheet

 The ORI Fish has more information about this and many other linefish caught in South Africa.

App – Marine Fish Guide for Southern Africa – SAAMBR