Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Top End Barra Series Round 4

Hi there, 

Last weekend was the fourth round of the Top End Barra Series this very friendly competition organised by two member of the FFF forum, Bandit and Dingo.

The round number four was taking place in the Darwin Harbour.

For me the day one of the Round 4 started very nicely, with Arrabmundy picking me up at 9:30 am on the Saturday. That is a neat change of all these fishing trips, where I have to be ready between 4 and 5 in the morning. (But rest assured that I am not complaining!)
We were quickly on the water, launching from Dina Beach.
From there we sailed toward Middle Arm, on a sea so flat that I had never seen it like that in Darwin harbour yet, and it was going to be even better on the following day.

We first flicked some lures around Channel Island, for not much but a few baby cods. They were cute, but we put them back in the water…
From there we crossed over to a little creek of which I do not know the name of. Not trying to keep a secret spot secret, just totally unable to remember if this creek even has a name. 
Any way as we arrive there, we saw a guy by himself on a boat who hooked up and lost a fish just under our eyes.
This is good sign I told myself. Then after 3 or 4 cast Arrabmundi got a rather large Barramundi coming and slapping his lure, just in front of the boat. Even better sign I told myself already counting in my mind, the extravagant amount of enormous fish that we would extract from this creek… I was partially wrong. We did get 3 Barramundi from this creek, but only two were going to be legal ones.
As we drifted in the creek we kept casting to every snag or drain that we could see. And not much else was happening. Then we arrived to a point were the water was too low to continue further but the place looked the goods. 

A little intersection between the three arms of the creeks, a few snags and some very agitated mullets. So we start to cast with even more enthusiast in every nook possible for not much, but the mullet getting more and more nervous around us, and some big splashes starting to be seen here and there.
Not exactly like a school of pelagic harassing the bait fish, but this is what it reminded me. 

On the left hand side of the creek was a tree falling in the water, we both did about ten cast to it for nothing. Arrabmundi turned around to cast his lure where we could see the most commotion in the water. 
Being myself I was thinking that it is so nice when you can do that perfect cast, land your lure just where you want it, against a snag, and get a nice Barra for your effort. 
That I wanted to practice and tried one more cast toward the fallen tree, and first got upset with myself for it not being the perfect cast that I would have loved. At least 50 cm short of where I wanted it… Then a big boof and some flying mullets! But just on the opposite side of the stream… 
This is where I started to get a little bit more upset with myself as I had in a very typical way send my lure just as far as I could from the action… 
Looking at where all this was happening, I mechanically made a little twitch of my lure and started to turn the handle of my reel when the thing stopped without looking I though: "Great on top of this I am snagged". And before I even finished to think it the water literally erupted under the fallen tree and a nice piece of piscatorial chrome took to the air. Lucky me, it swam straight for the centre of the creek, away from the snag. 
Remembering what Double Haul told me on the Daly: Keep you rod down! I did just that and after a short but honest fight the fish was netted by Arrabmundi who was saying it is in the 70s! I was thinking, ok it’s look like this one may be legal. 
Ho yes it was, it was not yet 12 noon and I had just caught what was going to be my best fish of the weekend, a 74cm Barramundi from Darwin Harbour. And this was done by casting a lure made to dive to 2.5 meters in a less than a meter deep drain…

My first fish of the weekend.

The water around us was still full of very stressed mullet so after some quick photos, with high hopes of doing it again we were back into it. This is where Arrabmundi caught his first Barra of the day, but this one was a tiny bit on the small size and not yet legal. We did not try to seat on it to make it longer, we put it back in the water, honest.

Arrabmundi first Barramundi.

Then he started to drop a few in a row, and pretty fast the water went calm, and no hits no more… So we decided to go and try some rock bars.
First Arrabmundi got a little cod once again, then just close to the boat a Mangrove Jack made a dash for his lure and guzzled it with gusto, and it was an immediate fight just under our eyes. Sadly the fight did not last very long, as the hook to which the fish was attached broke and the fish swam away. That was really bad luck, because this fish could have been a prize-winner.
So we continued to drift a bit around this rock bar and I got a very decent hit on one of my small Ofmer lures, but the fish managed to get ride of the hooks in no times. So I sent back my lure in roughly the same spot a few times and was rewarded by a 54.6 cm Barramundi… 4 millimetres too short… 

Barramundi on the Ofmer X-minnow 110F.

Ha! This I learned a few hours later was going to be the curse of many competitors in this round.
We continued to go from one rock bar to the other for the same kind of results, baby cods, and undersized Barra…
I even got another one on another of my Ofmer lures.

Barramundi on the Ofmer Jerker 80F.

A successful little lure.

To the credit of these lures, in a weekend where the fishes were so finicky, they worked very well. To the extant that another competitor who was using them got all his legal Barramundi for the full weekend on the Ofmer Jerker 80F only.

It was time to find another plan if we wanted to get the real thing, the big fish...

So we moved to Pioneer Creek, this one I remembered the name, because I was wondering why it had been named like that?
In there we did a bit of trolling for a little while and I had put back at the end of my line the now trusted little lure that had caught me my only legal Barra so far, earlier in the morning.
This lure, a little warlock with a diving depth of 2,5 meter kept bouncing on the muddy bottom of the creek, and as I was starting to think that I should replace it with a 2 or 1,5 meter lure the rod without any warning bent in my hand and the line started to peel from the reel: this was no snag or mud bouncing, this was a fish! The battle was decent but not dirty and my skipper for the day did a good job at netting the fish. 

60cm of Darwin Harbour chrome.

As I was taking a photo of this 60cm of fine Barramundi specimen Arrabmundi offered to rectify one of the treble on my lure, which seemed a tad bent in the wrong way. Just as he grabbed the lure in one hand and was going to grab the hook with a plier, the lure came of the line, the knot was busted… Miss luck had been on my side, because if this Barra had fought a bit harder, or stayed in the water a few more seconds, he would have swam away with my lure as bling…
Yes I know, I should always check my knots after each and every fishes… But all the previous ones were so small that I had bothered doing it… I should have.

But that was about it on the fish catching front, so we decided to go back in the first creek of the day, where I had caught my first legal one and try to get some more love from the fishes.
As we entered the creek, I was going to take a photo of Arrabmundi at the helm of his vessel conducting a Barra troll, and just one or two second after I pressed the release on my camera, a big fish jumped behind the boat. 
The fish was on his line! Quick smart we are both on our feet him trying to reel it in, and me trying to get the net ready. This was going to be his first legal fish of the day, no doubt about it. Well not in the fish mind, as he spat the hook and disappeared under water…
So chin up we started to troll again…
And sure enough a few minutes latter, he got hooked again and this time I was really hoping that this fish was going to see the net… 

Well not only did he saw the net, but it also visited the esky. This was a nice and healthy 61cm Barramundi, and Arrabmundi was now on the board!

Arrabmundi reeling in his Barramundi.

We could start to relax, but it was already nearly night fall, so we made it back to the ramp and home, after what had been a great day of fishing in some place of the harbour where I had never been before. It is always nice to discore some new places, specially when these places are in fact on our doorsteps.

Dingo and Muntzy picked me up at roughly the same time and of we went, for a new day of fishing advantures.
On the previous day, I had seen the harbour as flat as I had never seen it before. On the second day, it was even more flat, an amazing sight, and my eyes went without asking me in the search of a Tuna school breaking the surface. 

With Darwin on the horizon.

But Tuna were not the target of the day, so after a few quick photos of the flat waters, we motored to were the action was going to be.

Are we going fast or what?

The first place where we arrived Muntzy told me that on the back of the boat, on the opposite side of where he and Dingo had already started to cast was a good spot for Queenfish…
Well did I need to be told more to be distracted from a Barramundi competition? 

No, I dully casted my lure on the Queenfish side instead of the Barra side… And guess what?
I hooked very quickly a small queeny, who managed to escape me before I got it to the boat. That was as close as I would come to get a fish for the next few hours… I could see Muntzy and Dingo getting with the job hooking up and landing some Queenfish, Mackerel, Trevally, small Barra and Flat head but me nothing… 

Muntzy hooked to a Mackerel.

Dingo with a small Queenfish.

I got a few half hearted hits, with no real hook ups, nothing would stay connected… Maybe I had caught the disease that had plagued Arrabmundi the previous day and was no under a sever spell of Dropsy…
Or at least this is what I thought till we went to what was going to be the last creek of the day. Where we saw the McMinns Mobs getting on some fish. 

Between a creek and the sky.

In there it started with my first catch of the day, a nice little Goldie, my first one ever on a hard body lure.

My first Goldie on a hard body lure.

I was very happy with that, and decided to release it hoping for a bigger one. I realised my mistake latter when both Dingo and Muntzy told me that this in fact had been a rather nice specimen for a creek one… And they were proved right as I ended up catching 4 other ones and they were all smaller. Dingo and Muntzy were catching also, but they were catching some young Barra and even what was a nice Flathead for the area, but none of the Goldies that were slowly destroying my lure. 

And knowing that I had a 74 cm Barramundi in my bag from the previous day, Dingo kept saying with a big smile that all he wanted was a 75…

At one stage as I was being silly and mucking around moving my rod in rhythm with the music coming out of the boat stereo, I felt a nudge in the line and hop it started to peel line and I got a juvenile Barramundi. I deducted that this little fella must have loved the music that was playing aboard at the time, so as he showed good taste and was totally undersized, in the drink it went back.
Not long after that both Dingo and I were on at the same time. Double hook-up! Muntzy grabbed the net and asked who was going to need some netting at first, and what were we hooked on? Well none of us really need the net… Dingo got a small Queenfish, and I got another teenage boy Barra with attitude, trying to scoff down a lure to big for him…

Our massive double hook-up...

So it was starting to be around 5 in the afternoon, and the sun had already started his descent on the horizon, when as we were trolling along the bank of the creek Dingo showed to Muntzy a fish on the sounder. Not long after that without a sign of warning my rod tried to escape from my hand, took a serious bent and the reel let the line go at an alarming rate! 
It must have been this fish that they had spotted on the sounder. 
It jumped very soon after the impact, and we immediately knew that this was a Barramundi, and that it could be a good point scorer. 
So what did I do? I tried as much as I could not to panic of course! I wanted, no, needed this fish, and I was going to stay calm and just reel it in nice and slow… Yeah right! I think that I heard the boys say more than a few time: “Take your time, reel him in nice and slow”. This must have been because my anxiety at the risk of loosing it was showing. It took a bit of time to get it close to the boat, and once there, it took me to a little dance in an anticlockwise motion all around the boat. Which ended on the side where it had started, lucky me, this was the best side to net it. But he still had some fight in him and didn’t like the look of the net. After trying to bring him to the net a few time, he finally came the right way, and Muntzy showed his expertise in the netting department and got it deep in the net at first try.

Last fish of the weekend.

Yes a few cheering could been heard on the river. 
To say that I was happy would be an understatement, I now had my three scoring fish needed to have a full bag, and this one was 70cm. Not huge, but enough to make me think that I could end up in the top ten of this round with this fish…
And once again I believe that Miss Luck had a crush on me this very weekend. First why did this fish choose my lure from the three swimming behind the boat? 
And then when we saw how it was hooked, just by the skin of the upper lip. I recon that it would not have taken too much more for it to break the skin and swim free before being netted. It had fought hard and longer than most Barramundi that I have caught so far, so I still don’t understand how it actually stayed connected with such a thin layer between the hook and it’s freedom.
He was released after a few quick photos, he deserved it.

After that we did troll a bit more but not much, as Dingo would still have a few hours of driving to get back home.

Some people call it hard work.

So we crossed back the harbour toward the ramp, and they dropped me at home, what a service!

To me this round was the occasion to fish in some spots I had never seen before and to meet some new people while fishing. Exactly how I understood the project of the Top End Barra Series. This is great. 

Thanks again to Arrabmundi for having me on his boat on the Saturday. And to Dingo, for having me on his boat with Muntzy, who was very good company… Ha these delicious marinated pieces of porcs that he had brought onboard… So bad for my arteries, but so good under the teeth…
And also to Dingo and Bandit for organising the event, top job guys.

Now I can’t wait for the next and final round of the Inaugural Top End Barra Series.

Ho, and what was my position on the scoreboard at the end of this round?
Well, my biggest hope was to score a place in the top ten...
I came in first! For the first time of my fishing life, I made it to the top.
Yes I won the round, and for this I will soon receive a new fishing rod. A G Loomis GL2 CR665. A rod that I had looked at with envy more than once at the shop. But never bought as it is slightly out of my price range for fishing gears. And I also won a tackle box Plano 1374. All together some very nice prizes that I will use with great pleasure.
Still we should keep in mind, that I won a round, not the full series. And considering the score of some of the other competitors, there is not a chance that I will ever win the series.
I won because I had an enormous amount of chance during the weekend, while most of the other competitors had a very big quantity of bad luck...

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


Fish Whisperer said...

Congrats, a win is a win. Well done. Sounds like a great time.
Tight lines

Rambling Expat said...

Hi Fish Whisperer,

Thank you.
And yes it was a great time fishing, had a lot of good laughs, and a really relaxing time on the water.

Have a good day,

Anonymous said...

Bravo Champion !!

Va peut être falloir songer à passer pro dis donc !!
Bon ça me donne envie d'aller décongeler des croquettes de poissons pour ce soir tiens...
Biz à tous les 3,
Cyril et Flo

Rambling Expat said...

Bonjour Cyril et Flo!

Sa fait plaisire d'avoire de vos nouvelles.
Quand au croquette de poissons...
What can I say?
Je les aimais bien quand j'etait petit...
Maintenant, je prefer le poisson que j'attrape!
Bises a vous deux,