Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Top End Barra Series Round 3

Hi there,

It was time for the round 3 of the Top End Barra Series, and this time the action was taking place all over the Mary River Billabongs.

I was ready to be deckie in a new team with whom I had never fished before. When on the Friday before the event I found myself boatless, as the skipper had to attend some very urgent family business. 
All seemed to be lost for my weekend of fishing and I put a message on the FFF forum asking if any one had a spot on his/her boat for me.

Well I did get very lucky to be offered at the last minute a spot on Arrabmundi boat for the Sunday, and even if I had never met him before, as soon as the offer came in I said yes in a heart beat.
I was not going to regret it.

He told me that he would pick me up at 5:00am, so as a very eager kid, I woke up at 3:15am and could not fall asleep anymore...
So I got up to check my lure selection one last time and the overall state of my gears... 

Then before I realised it, he was there and I jumped in the car and we hit the road, destination the billabongs.

During the trip, I asked him as innocently as I could: "Have you fished the billabongs before?" and the reply came simply as any inexperienced angler who was going there for the first time would have dreamed it: "Hundreds of times mate".
Great I was in with a chance to catch a fish then!

Because yes, I had never been on these billabongs yet, and kept reading about it.

We had a quick stop at the Corroboree tavern for a few snack and a quick chat with Bullet and Co about the previous day of fishing, and then in no times we were at the boat ramp.
Where, as discretely as possible I was trying to scan the water for any signs of crocodiles...
None were around, or I did not see them, and off we sailed first towards the Rock Hole, to try to catch the first action of the day on day break.
To say that the weather was nice and fresh would be an understatement, And I started to wonder if I should have taken a pair of mittens with me...

A nice and fresh morning on the billabongs.

Yet it was a great thing to see, a place I would love to take my child to, one day.

Any way as we arrived to the spot we saw Zulk and Uncldug casting away in front of a Pandanus, and not far away Dingo, Doors Off and Muntzy doing more or less the same.

Casting lures in front of the pandanus.

The skipper decided to troll and that was absolutely fine by me.
First I used a Big Lucifer and got a strange hit wasn't too sure of what was going on...
I started to reel it in, thinking that I had a strange lump of weed, or maybe a baby catfish, a billabong's kitten maybe...
But no, I had a Glossamia aprion, a fish that most anglers know under the name of Mouth Almighty.
This was the first time that I saw one, what a great looking little fish!

My first ever Mouth Almighty.

In fact I did show the photo to the fish specialist at the museum today, and I was told that this was a very pale and interesting specimen.
And I was told that I should have brought it back for the museum collection...
I told them that I did not eat it, that I just put it back in the water, honest, scout honour and all... But now you know if ever you were to catch one of a simillar size and colour, the museum would be very interested to have it in the collection. I was told that this is because usually they are darker.

So we troll again, me just happy to look at the scenery and to have seen this nice little fish when bang! 
Another hit and this time with more punch than the last one.
I started to reel it in, but the thing do not jump at all just go for the depths and in a very amateurish kind of way I say: Maybe it's a Toga? (Remember that at this point I was yet to have ever seen a saratoga in the flesh).
To which I am told no, this is a Barra!
And sure enough this is a clean little Barramundi that Arrabmundi scoop easily in the net.
Ho yes I was happy! Only 61 cm, but hey I got it!

Look at the chrome on this fish.

Do I look happy or what?

Now, usually if you have a lure that caught you 2 fish in a few minutes, you stick to it... Well being who I am, I told myslef, time for a change of lure...
And I put a little Shaker 60 SR made by Ofmer, in the gold colour...
This was a good move, not even 15 feet in the troll run and I was screaming: I'm on! I'm on! I don't even think that this little lure had the time to descend as deep as it is made to swim. First a good pull on the line, then nothing... Then another pull and a nice jump, then another stronger pull and the line start to peel from my reel and .... nothing ... 
I got busted in open water...

I usually alway check my leader after each fish and I didn't do it after the first Barra...
Should have, this is a lesson that I hope to remember...
That was a nice little lure, and I had only one like this, but apparently a nice Barramundi liked it more than I...
This would have been the fish of the day, and it showed, albeit for a very short amount of time, how this little lure could be effective for Barramundi fishing.

And this was nearly the end of my fishing exploit for the day, and Arrabmundi turn to shine.
During the rest of the day, he was to boat 7 Barramundi, one Saratoga, a Giant Gudgeon and hook quite a few Tarpon too.
Here are two of his fishes:

A Barramundi on soft plastic.

A Saratoga in close-up.

And the full animal.

This was the first time that I saw a Saratoga in the flesh and not just in a magazine, they are very nice fish too. The colours on them is just amazing, for a fresh water fish.

He was getting most of his fishes on soft plastic...
I tried poppers, diver, walk the dog styles of lures, fizzers and finally decided to try some of my own soft plastic...
I did get a few little hits, but no hookup... And he kept telling me: You should try one of mine....
And I kept telling myself: As soon as I'll try one of his, I will loose it to a snag...
And finally by the end of the afternoon when he caught a 64cm Barra just under my nose, his 7th Barramundi for the day, I had to ask: Can I borrow one of your lure for a few minutes please? ...
He smiled to me and said: This is what I told you to do for the past few hours... 
So I did, and guess what?
Just after a few minutes of trying, just where he got his 64 cm Barra, I got an Oxyeleotris selheimi, more commonly called Giant Gudgeon.
This once again was a first for me! And Arrabmundi then said: I should have forced you to use one of these lures...

My first ever Giant Gudgeon.

Made me very happy.

Now, this is the folks at the museum who told me that this is a Giant Gudgeon, and that it is not a sleepy cod.
Apparently the difference is in the fins and some little spots on them. If it has some darker spots on the dorsal fins, this is a Giant Gudgeon.
(Thanks again to the good people from the Museum in Darwin for all the information about fish that they keep giving me)

We also passed by Itsinmeblood and Turtle during the day, they were busy casting some scum frog in the lilies...
Not long ago if someone had told me that he or she had 
spent the Sunday morning casting scum frogs in the lilies, I would have wondered what was that all about?...

So all together, this was a very relaxing day on the water. Very enjoyable with quite a few new fish caught or sighted to me. 
In a truly fantastic location, where I had planed to take more photographs... But got myself busy with the fishing...
But I did manage a few photos of a White Bellied Sea Eagle, and here is one of them:

A magnificent bird.

Thanks again  to Arrabmundi, I had a great day, in a place that I really wanted to see.

So yes with just one Barramundi of 61cm, I was on the board, as this round proved to be hard fishing for most of the participants in the series.
It gave me the 10th position in the round 3, and on the overall board for the Series I am now 13th.
For a total of 38 participants.
And yes on the score board, I am very very far from the 3 first ones.

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


Fish Whisperer said...

Great trip out with some nice fish and two new species to add to you count.
Not bad at all.

Rambling Expat said...

Hi Fish Whisperer,

Yes that was a really nice trip, and to think that this is just next door so to speak.
Easy to do a day trip there.
This billabong system is 40km long, so plenty of room too.

Have a good day,

Owen said...

Awesome write-up. Gotta love Fishing in Australia

Rambling Expat said...

Thank you Owen,

Glad that you liked it, now spread the word about it.

And thanks for the link to another cool forum too.

Have a good day,