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,


Ms. Dig said...

Hey, Rambling Expat! You can't just say "my mate spent the night naked in a tree" and not tell the whole story! What happened?

Ms. Dig.

Rambling Expat said...

Hi Ms. Dig,

Well the story goes like that: This guy told his wife that he would get her some fresh fish for the christmas dinner and ....

Nah... Can tell it on the blog...

Next time that you will be up in Darwin I will tell you.

Have a good day,