Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The first dragonfly

Hi there,

Since a few days now we can see the first dragonflies of the year in Darwin.
And for any fisherman of the city, seeing a dragonfly spell the start of the blue water season.
Usually the dragonflies arrive with the end of the wet and spell the start of the dry season.
All the different festivals should get going soon.

The first dragonfly, the best one of them all.

Which mean the pelagic season is going to begin soon... The chrome slices are going to come out, and the reels are going to sing again...
The water should become clearer, which is all relative in Darwin muddy sea. And the sky will be blue again.

The blue sky will be back.

So in principal, from now on the weather should become better and better.
But in earnest, we are not out of the wet season yet.
To the extant that the bureau of meteorology is not sure yet if we are going to have a cyclone hitting Darwin by the end of the week. The low is just behind the Tiwi islands at the moment.
So every body is waiting to know what the forecast will be for the next few days.
And to be honest, I am starting to be a bit over the rain and can't wait for the dry to really kick in. I would be happy to not have to worry about cyclones for a while too.

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Top End Barra Series Round 1

Hi there,

So yes I have entered the 2011 inaugural Top End Barra Series.
The Top End Barra Series is a new fishing competition that take place in the Northern Territory of Australia. It is called a series because the competition is run in 5 rounds.
Each round will take place at a different location and the places in order of action are: Finniss River fresh and salt in March, the Daly River in May, The Mary River Billabongs in August, Darwin Harbour in September and finally the last round will be on the Adelaide River Mouth in October.
Each round last a full weekend.
And when I say competition, even if a few anglers will certainly take the thing very seriously, it is more a way of getting together socially between member of the FFF forum and others once in a while. And to keep it a fishing thing instead of anything else. Talking tackle, and fishing tales like the one that got away...
The comp is in fact mostly organised by two renowned member of the FFF: Corroboree Bandit and Dingo, kudos to them for that.

And yes the past weekend was the first round on the finniss River.
I was able to fish only on the Saturday, as the Sunday had already been booked for a working bee at the little one school. So I will not have won a lot of points in this round, but still it was great to be part of it, and to meet some new very keen fishos.
Here is how the little story went...

On the Saturday morning I woke up at 2:30am, and could not get back to sleep...
Too exited by what was laying ahead for this day of fishing.
I was to go on a boat with two guys that I had never meet apart in the cyber world of the FFF forum, and one of them had kindly invited me on his boat. He like me could only take part in the first day of the Finniss round, so it was a good start for the team, his name is Brent, and the other associate is BarraTragic, from the forum too.

So Being up early after a night where I did not sleep a lot because my little one was coughing a lot, I decided to first check the web site of the Bureau of Meteorology, which was a bit pessimistic, but the future was to be brighter than the forecast.
And after a shower and a quick breakfast I decided to get to the meeting point with BarraTragic who was to drive the two of us to Brent place, where another vehicle and the boat were waiting for us. Has I arrived to the meeting spot around 10 minutes before time, he was already waiting for me, that was a good start in my books.
At Brent place everything was ready and waiting for us, and in no time we were on the road, the three of us full of anticipation.
And a bit worried that it would rain, or that the seas might be a tad choppy.
But the day was to be glorious.
And every thing was perfect till the point where we arrived in the dark at one spot where four cars towing boats, and a few other without boat where stopped on the road... Brent said that it was a water crossing and that the river might be over the road. So we all jumped out of the car and went to have a look saying hi to every body on the way. As we neared the river we saw by the signs on the side of the road that the water was around 60 cm over the road.
Brent said: No worries mates, I have already crossed this river when it was 90 cm over the  road...
So we were back in the car and started crossing, when in the middle of the river, Brent said something like: "I remember once I was crossing here when the water was really flowing and the trailer with the boat started to skid". That was enough to remind me that it was still night time, that the river was flowing over the road, and was certainly full of crocodiles... I didn't say anything but was just waiting to be on the other side to relax...
And as we just started to get the front wheels on dry ground, Brent pulled his window down and screamed: Chickens!!!
We caught up later on in the evening with some ladies at Dundee and they said that they heard that...
Any way we had passed without any trouble and had just jumped the queue for the boat ramp by at least four boats, so we were already winners in our own minds.
At Dundee all the usual suspects were there, and I even saw Geoff Corry from Barra Base the guy who had given me a Coca Cola fishing lure.
And in no times we were on the water, on a flat sea zooming toward the Little Finniss.
And as soon as we arrived we went to the right of the mouth, tied to a tree and started to cast some lures. I could not get a hit, while the two other guys kept getting hits and started to land some fish... I even took my first photo of the day, when BarraTragic was hun-hooking a fish and Brent had another one on the line.

The guys having fun.

What was going on? It pretty simple, they had soft plastic lures and I was casting a hard body... I quickly changed lure and started to have some hits, but nothing would stay connected. So I changed back to hard body and thought that things would eventually change in my favour.
The first landed fish of the day was by BarraTragic. It was not a huge fish, but it was a legal one and he was on the board. He was happy, photographed it on the brag mat, and promptly returned it to the water. Brent and I both looked at him and asked why did he just do that? He said but isn't it a catch and release comp? No, it was not and it was the first fish of the day and he would have make a very good meal. I guess that this was this Barramundi lucky day. So we told him that this would be good karma for him for the rest of the comp. And effectively not long after he landed a fish of about similar size.
Then Brent landed a 80cm fish, and I was still with a big fat zero next to my name...
Then I do not remember who but one of them landed a small blue salmon, and it was decided to use it as a livie, to see what would take it, and that was a good 20/25cm fish.
So the comp rule are that all fish have to be caught on lure, but it is not prohibited to catch a feed in any way that is ok with the Northern Territory regulations. So on a big hand line this poor little fishy was sent to swim with a hook on his back.
And has we casted our lure away I saw the line moved and said: "Brent, your livies is going off". And he grabbed the line and started to pull, and got... A mud crab... Brent was happy and said something about his beloved loving to eat mud crabs. So in the esky it went, and the salmon was sent in the water again and then the line took of fast and quick, but nothing stayed connected. It must have been a shark, as the fish had been neatly cut in half, just before the hook. He was put back and then the line started to steadily move again, and another crab was landed. What a beauty we thought, there we were fishing for barramundi and we started to get some crabs. So the half of a fish went back in the water, and as Brent was telling us that we had to be carful not to have the hand line wrap around our feet in case a big fish would take of with it, it did just that. It took off, and nearly got wrapped around his feet, he started to try to hold it and it was clearly a good fish, but the line got cut in no time...
No more crabs we thought, but of course we would be proved wrong...

Then when moved a few meters and tied the boat to another tree, and I still had no fish...
So we started to cast again, and I changed my lure and put on a Reidy's B52's in the gold with red strips colour. Then I looked at a mangrove tree and said to myself, Would you be able to cast just a bit behind him on his right? And I did just that, and as I was retrieving in the hit came sudden and furious. The line tensed and the fish jumped, I was on, and now was the time to stay calm and get this fish in the boat. And this is just what happened. I was on the board too! The lure had been inhaled head first and was still deep in the fish mouth.

Lure inhaled head first.

And this was a nice fish, not huge but 80cm just, and looking nice and fat. 
This week I am going to eat some fresh fish!

A nice looking 80cm Barramundi.

Then has things started to slow down, and it was not midday yet, the skipper decided to take us to his secret spot number two.
We arrived in a very beautiful place, where lots of mangrove and snags made a perfect Barramundi territory.

Nice looking mangrove.

But the place was to be no good for BarraTragic, as not long after we arrived there, he got his lure snagged underwater, and broke his rod trying to get his lure back. And then like to add insult to the injury, his lure then floated back to the surface...
So he was able to get his lure back, but had one rod less.
Then not long after, he dropped a pair of expensive polarised sun glass in the water.
He started to think that this was not his day... And all we could say was that from then on, thing could only get better.
Then brent made a cast and as soon as the lure hit the water, we saw a flash in the water and he was on to a small rat of a barra. Which was duly released. Then just has I was reeling my lure and it was approaching the surface a small catfish trying to chase and grab it and really surprised me.  Then has we were slowly drifting and casting I had my lure standing just a few centimeter out of the water and was looking at were Brent was casting so I would not then send my lure over his line. When a small Barramundi came from nowhere and tried to grab my lure out of the water. Even if it did not hook, it was a first for me.
Has the action was rather flat we decided to go back in the first spot, where hopefully the change of tide would have bring back the fish on the chew.
Arriving on the spot we decide to troll a few time where we saw Zulk land a fish not long before.

Zulk getting a nice fish.

Has we trolled we passed a sea eagle who was perched on a dead tree and seemed to be keeping  tabs on the fishing result of the day trollers...

He stayed there most of the day.

Then we got back to the first spot and BarraTragic made a cast and got a fish and landed it. This was a good thing after all the trouble he got, and he quickly dispatched the fish in the esky and made himself a sandwich. All the while Brent and I were turning the spot where he just had a fish to foam, casting lake mad men to try to get a fish too... But we got nothing. So once he finished his sandwich, he casted in the same spot than us and got a fish which made a few jumps and send the lure flying. We looked at him, and wondered how he did that? Why us nothing and him all the fun?
Then he got another hit exactly on the same spot, and on the first jump we all thought that this was a big fish.
And instead of heading for the mangrove and the snags, he went straight for the sea, and made a powerful run, but somehow find a way to spit the lure
Then he got a few other hit, and a few other fish who jumped and spat the hook...
So much in fact the he started to earn the nickname of Dropsie... But finally he got another one I think, and that was now a lot more fish than what Brent or I had caught...
I tried to explain my lack of fish by the fact that I was try to be polite and not outfish the skipper, but I don't think that they believed me...
And I was using the very same lure than him, so this prove that sometimes it is more the angler than the lure that makes the difference in results.
And as the action was calm again we went for a little wonder in the river.

Calm river and big outboard.

Then went for a bit more trolling and the landscape was just great. The sea was flat as in a post card.

Flat sea at the river mouth.

And the tide cam back.

And the tide came back, bringing the fish with her, but it was starting to get late and we decided to do just a few more troll runs and to go back to Dundee before it would be too late.
And another first happened to me. Do you remember when I told you about the fact that we thought that we wouldn't get any more crab? Well, my line got a bit tense, and I knew it was not a snags, but it did not fight like a fish... So I told myself that I must have hooked a massive jellyfish or a bunch of seaweeds... But no, I landed a nice mud crab that was properly hooked on my big lure... I gave it to Brent so he would have three crabs to share with his family. 

A crab on a lure...

Then we said one more troll and we go.
And I was honestly thinking that by now It would be very surprising that I get a fish, and started to tell them the story of my mate who spend a night naked in a tree at Shoall Bay, when my line started to peel real fast, my rod to pull on my hand and harm and the drag to scram, I was on again! The fish was far away but it mad a jump and we knew then that it was a Barra, so I got a bit exited and trying at the same time to stay as calm as I could...
The fish was getting closer, and I was afraid that I would loose it, and this is exactly what happened... And I would not say that he throw the lure away in a magnificent jump ho no. He did a few nice jumps, but no, in the end he merely got his head out of the water and just in the direction of the boat, had a little burp and more than spat I would say that he dribbled the lure with disdain... Ha! Upset I was.
Then less than two minute latter nearly the same thing happened to Brent.
After we both lost a fish in a very short amount of time, I am not sure, but I think I heard someone who had very briefly been nicknamed Dropsie, have a discrete chuckle in my back...
And that was the two last fish that we saw for the day, but failed to land.

It was time to go back home and the sea was flat as a tack so we zoomed fast toward Dundee Beach and the last tractors.
The sea was amazing and at one point we could hardly make the distinction between sea and sky.

On the way home.

Now what will stay of this day? Some good laugh, an incredible landscape, and the first time that I went fishing the Finniss are already some good things, but also many other things.
And yes with just a 80 cm fish, I will be standing pretty low in the comp.

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Some new fishing lures for the collection

Hi there,

My fishing lure collection has greatly increased in the past few days...
Just by visiting the Reidy's lure factory where I was very kindly offered many old lures by Colin, the company owner.
And here are just a few of my new precious...
First a Goulburn Jack +5m (16.404199 feet).

They don't do this colour/pattern any more.

Then a Little Lucifer, which made me very happy...
Do you remember the Taipan I showed you last year? It is the same colour, sparkle and all!
So now I do know that this was a real colour and not someone who had messed-up with it.
(You never know with the lures that you find in Op Shops)...

The sparkly Little Lucifer.

From above.

Then a +3m (9.8425197 feet) yellow Aqua Rat still in its original box. Aqua Rat is also a lure that I discovered only a few months ago by finding one in a charity shop, so it is great to now have some (yes some) in perfect condition and still in the box.

Yellow Aqua Rat.

And another one in the box!

Reddish Aqua Rat.

And another Aqua Rat, not in the box, but older, with a different bib (shallower) and different eyes.

I like this colour.

And here comes the older of my Aqua Rat, in the Bleeding Mullet colours.
With the company logo on the back instead of the tail, like in the previous ones.

The oldie.

The old logo, featuring the Australian map.

Then a very interesting Taipan, which in this presentation has been discontinued too.

See through with holographic material inside.

View from the top.

I am sure that this one would work even as a surface lure. Imagine it being ripped across the surface and flashing all his reflective material in all direction... Pelagic's lollies, that is what I see...

And now the piece de resistance...
Another Taipan, but still in the box...
In a colour that I was yet to see...

My oldest Taipan.

And look at the address on the box, it is in Queensland! But the factory that I visited is in the Northern Territory (Remember that we are talking about Australia here). This indicate that this lure was made, and packaged before the factory moved from Mirani, West of Mackay in Queensland to a suburb of Darwin in the NT. I do not know exactly when the moved happened, but this might be one of my next question to the Reidy's people.
And to think that it is still in perfect condition.

The old address.

And this is it for now, I will show you some more another time.
Thanks again to Colin for being so generous, I really appreciate, it is not often that someone will give me that many great lures.

Now I do understand that some of you might be worried that I am turning into some kind of fishing nerd...

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Reidy's Lure Factory

Hi there,
The saga continue...

And today I had the chance to visit the Reidy's lure factory 

Finally Colin  the boss from Reidy's got back to me and told me that in the end he would be keen to get the Coca Cola lure that Geoff Corry from Barra Base, had given me, for the Reidy's archives.
So I said no worries, but you will have to wait for me to get a car first, so I can come to your factory, bring it to you, and visit your workshop at the same time.
It finally arrived, we got a little car, and I was on my way to the Reidy's factory.
As I arrived I was immediately made feel welcome by Colin, and was given a tour of the facilities.
Where of course, I took a few photos...
Can't help myself...

When you arrive to the factory.

The shop.

Has a lot of choice.

The lures just after being mould.

The lady who paint them.

Drying after the paint.

Some of the colours available.

Then the patterns are pressed on the lures.


Some of the special custom lures.


Each lure goes through the testing pool.

View from underwater.

Imagine that you are a Barramundi.

And I was lucky enough to be shown many  old lures that are not made any more.
Like this Prop A Pop A, a fizzer surface lure made of wood, it has been discontinued, but is remember by many fervent anglers.

The Prop A Pop A.

And Colin was very generous and gave me a lots of lures in exchange for the Coca Cola lure. I honestly was not expecting that. 
(The lures will be shown in a next post.)
I even got a fishing shirt and three magazines.
Thanks Colin.

And more importantly, he seemed genuinely happy to finally get his hands on a Coke lure, which was the best.

And as a special bonus I will show you two lures that are soon to be released in the Reidy's stable.
First a weedless sof plastic with a very clever little pocket under the head where each angler can insert the weight that he or she wishes. Called the Weedies, I can alredy imagine people being very happy using this lure in the snag ridden river and billabong of the Northern Territory of Australia.

The Weedies with a snag proof hook...

And now comes The Big Judge.
I was already using The Judge myself, but this one I will have to try too.
I have photographed The Big Judge with an "old" The Judge, to give you a sense of size.

See why it is called The Big Judge?

Remember that there is some big chances that you saw these two lures here first.
And yes, I do not have a Coca Cola lure any more...

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time,

There was this little boy that kept saying to his dad and mum: I want to go fishing! I want to go fishing... All day long...
The kind parents were thinking that this child was way too young to go fishing, and neither of them were really keen on the fishing thing anyway...
They were saying that if they took him fishing, after a few minutes of waiting and no fish he would want to go home to play with his blocks of lego and that it would have been a lot of driving around for nothing, for these city people...

Till the beautiful day were the father could not take it any more, all the I want to go fishing! had finally done their work and he said to the little boy: "Ok, I will take you fishing, but if ever you get bored, it wont matter and we will stay there as long as I see fit. Ok?"
The little boy had won and was over the moon.

So off they went father and son in the car, found a river flowing quietly through the countryside and a nice little spot where to sit on the grass.
The father rigged his child rod and line, and told him to be patient, that eventually a little fish would take the bait and be hooked. Then he got his own line in the water. Side by side they were now fishing with high anticipation, both hoping for a fish to bite.
And they waited, and waited, and looked at the clouds in the sky, and the wind in the trees, and the cattle on the opposite bank, and waited some more.
But the bite never came. So after a few hours, the father told his son, that this might not be their lucky day, and that they should go home. But the little boy would have none of it, he wanted to stay...
And the rest of the afternoon was spent with the father trying to persuade his son that they could come back another day, when the fish would be on the chew. But no, the little boy was sure that a fish was going to be caught in the next few seconds. And the next few seconds lasted till the end of the afternoon. By then the very bored out of his brain father told the child that it was really time to go and off they went back home, without a single fish...
Not only it was the father who wanted to leave the first, but all along the the return the little boy kept asking when would they come back.

Yes this little boy was me.
Honestly I am not even sure that I would remember the story if it had not been told a copious amount of times how the roles had been reversed and the adult was bored and the small child absolutely captivated, if not hypnotised by his fishing float.

This was a long time ago, and I still love fishing.
Here are a few photos of my fishing journey so far:

Circa mid 1970s

Circa mid 1980s.

Circa 2010s.

Yes fishing has been a passion of mine for a long time now.
And the more it goes, the more I love it.
I have even overheard some people saying that I was slightly mad about it...

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,

Monday, March 7, 2011

I hope it is not...

Hi there,

A few days ago it was Dolly's birthday she turned four...
So among other things we took her to her favourite restaurant, a buffet place, where she can have all the ice cream, jelly and cake that she want, after the prawns and some mashed potatoes...
Yes four years olds loves some strange mix sometimes...

Any way, in the middle of our dinner, my mobile phone rang, and it was one of our neighbours calling to know where we were, as he said that he wanted to wish a happy birthday to the birthday girl.
So I passed the mobile to my little one and she spoke animatedly with him and passed me back the phone, I told the neighbour that we would be back home shortly and hang up.
Then my child looked at me excitedly and said: "he told me he has a birthday present for me!"
So I asked if she knew what it was?
She said no, and suddenly become very calm, with a worried look on her face...
I asked her what was going on?
And she said: "I hope it is not beer"...

I had to reassure her saying that I was sure that he would not gives her some beer.
But I honestly do not know where this come from, as we are not beer drinkers...
And yes the neighbours drink beer sometimes on the weekend, but as she has never been left alone with them, I do know that she has never been offer some...
But she was very worried about it for a second...

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Burhinus grallarius

Hi there,

So what is a Burhinus grallarius? Also commonly called a Bush Stone-curlew...
Well, it simply is an Australian bird.

And some time ago we had a pair of them who decided to have their nest just next to the staff parking at work.
And when I say nest... Look at one of them on the so called nest...

I have seen more comfortable before.

This was directly on the ground one or two feet from the parking lot, even camouflaged as this bird think it is, we could see it sitting in our cars. And this is a parking where quite a few people come and go every days.
And while one of them was nesting under full sun light, the other one was standing guard, in the shadow two or three meters away, and would come out hissing every time someone walked too close. 
Here it is.

Trying to look tough.

I am definitively no expert, but I found them interesting and decided to try to learn a bit more about them. So I asked to Thomas Parkin at the Museum and Art Gallery or the Northern Territory what kind of bird they were.
And he explained to me that they were Bush Stone-curlew and also gave me their scientific name (Burhinus grallarius). He also told me that they are an Australian bird and are found on the main land and on some offshore islands of Australia.
That they incubate the eggs for 22 to 28 days, and take turns in doing so. So it is not a gender dedicated task, but is done by both the male and the female.
They are mostly nocturnal and are responsible for some eerie "crying" noises in the middle of the nights.

Any way it is apparently a quite common bird, it is just that I never had the chance to watch them so closely before.

And has a bonus to you, here is another photo, of another nest that I saw one day walking not too far from Darwin.
This one may look like the real job, more comfy, on a branch and all...
But look at the size of the branch, and not very high either...
And I have absolutely no clues whatsoever at what birds had made this nest.

Siblings in the making.

It look like Australian birds like to live close to the ground...

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,