Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hatching the eggs.

Hi there,

So last evening, Dolly, Ms. Frugal and me were making a birthday cake.
The mix was in the bowl and the eggs were on the table.
Ms. Frugal said to the little one: "Now it is time to put the eggs in the mix."
To what Dolly replied full of enthusiasm: " I will hatch them, I know how to hatch them I have learned how to do it!"
After a good laugh Ms. Frugal had to explain to our little one, that she was not going to hatch the eggs, but was going to crack them open... Little girls do not hatch eggs...

Latter on the kitchen had this nice scent of freshly baked hot chocolate cake all over the place...
This was a very tempting smell I have to say.
But from this cake I will have none, as it is to take to school...

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

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Two fishing lures from the FFF Barra Challenge 2010.

Hi there,

Last week I was given two brand new fishing lures for my effort in the 2010 FFF Barra Challenge.

Two of my favourite Barramundi lures.

The lures are a Classic Barra +10 (the one on the top of the image) and a Reidy's B52's in gold colour (at the bottom of the image).
My very first Barramundi on lure was actually caught on a B52's in gold colour, on the South Alligator River.

This is a friendly fishing comp organised by some of the members of the FFF forum.
In this fishing comp, the goal is to be able fish a Barramundi every months of the year.
At the end of the year, the tally is made, and the guys who did land a Barramundi every month get a prize, the biggest of the year get a prize, and the biggest of each month get a prize. There is also some prizes for mysterious size every months, and for all sorte of other things, so nearly every one if not every one get a prize in this very friendly challenge.
It is more about the fun than anything else really.
And also about all of us catching up at the Ski Club or other Darwin venues.

Now how did I go in the 2010 edition?
Well, I think that I landed only three Barramundi for the year, not twelve...
Yet I had a very good fishing year by my own standards, with a lot more time passed chasing pelagic fishes that the venerable Barramundi.
Of these three Barramundi my biggest one went 91cm, but this is not the one that won me the two fishing lures.
Simply because on the month when I got this 91 cm fish, a few of the guys and gals in the challenge got some bigger Barramundi than I.

So how big was the one that won my my prize?
It was "only" 77 cm, but that was for the month of July, one of the most difficult time of the year to catch a Barramundi, as it is nearly the middle of the dry season, and way too cold for Barramundi fishing.
Keeping in mind that this is fishing under the tropic, so when we say cold... It would still be way to hot for many European...

The 77cm winner in the middle of our winter.

This fish was the biggest of july 2010, for all the people involved in the challenge, but I am sure that other anglers have caught bigger Barramundi in the same month. And also that many people went fishing for other fishes in the middle of our winter.
Any way, here is the thread on the FFF forum, where you can read all about how I caught this fish.

So this was not a meter fish, not even a very big one really.

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cyclone Carlos day 2.

Hi there,

An update on tropical cyclone Carlos.
Things seems to get better, and hopefully Carlos won't come back.
In fact I even believe that he has already been downgraded to Ex-Cyclone by the BOM, and Darwin airport is reopen.

Still we had a lot of wind in Darwin last night, and here are a few photos first two from our back yard, then from the same park as yesterday, just to show you what the local playground looks like now.

Fallen pawpaw tree.

Bananas on the clothesline.

The playground.

The swings.

Broken down.

Remember the big tree from yesterday?

Last night the trees were falling in the opposite direction than on the previous day.

So even if so far our home has not suffered any damage, unlike around 30 home that got flooded along Rapid Creek (a suburb of Darwin) every things is wet or damp at the best, and every body start to show some signs of cabin fever...

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cyclone Carlos

Hi there,

The city of Darwin is now on cyclone warning, and the cyclone is named Carlos.
It is not arrived yet, and we are not even sure if it will hit the city.
But I just wanted to show you a couple of images of the pre-cyclone effect on the neighborhood park.
Nothing massive, but still some strong winds already...

Ms. Frugal and Dolly walking down the park.

In front of the fallen tree.

It is more or less planned by the forecast experts that the cyclone Carlos should hit Darwin tonight or the following day.
So we do not know yet if we are going to spend the night at home or at the shelter...

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

Smoked Barramundi

Hi there,

Smoked Barramundi was on the menu for my lunch yesterday.
Now Barramundi is one of the most sought after fish in the Top End of Australia, and when you caught a wild one from the sea, then tasted it, you quickly understand why...

The perfect angler's lunch.

This is just a little part of the fish that I caught last weekend fishing at Shady Camp for the first time.

And the recipe is not an ancestral family secret, so here it is:
 - Fillet and skin your fish.
 - Prepare a brine made of water, salt, honey, squid sauce, soy sauce and one freshly squeezed orange.
 - Leave to marinate the fish fillets in the brine for a night and a day, in the fridge.
 - Come home and put in the smoker.
 - Enjoy!

With two slices of buttered bread, two apricot for fruit, and some cold water, this is as close to the perfect healthy angler's lunch as it gets, in the middle of a work day.
Sadly, I did not enjoy this lunch sitting on the water edge as I had planned to. 
Due to monsoonal rain and the formation of what could turn out to be a cyclone. I was sitting at a table situated just outside the staff door at work...
I am sure that it would have tasted even better facing the seas, under the sun, with a nice light breeze.

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

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Barramundi fishing at Shady Camp

Hi there,

Just two weeks since I was back, and I got a call from from Double Haul asking if I wanted to go Barramundi fishing at shady camp?
What a question!
Of course I wanted to, I had never been there, but kept reading about the massive Barramundi that get caught there on the FFF forum and in magazines.
So it was said that we would go there and have a go at the big Mommas that roam the sandpit...
Did we get the big Mommas?
Well if we did I would have already told you about it, but nonetheless, it was truly a great weekend, thank for the invitation Double Haul.

So as I was at the 2010 FFF Barra Challenge drinks at the Ski Club, I was trying to be part of it, but my brain was already somewhere else...
Trying to imagine what it was like, and what it would take to pull one of these big ladies out of the water.
And yes it is true too, I wanted to see my little one and put her to bed, before leaving for the weekend. So I did miss a big part of what seemed a great event, but if I hadn't, I would certainly have been very sorry the following morning when my skipper came to pick me up.

It was good to be in the car on our way, and to listen to Tales of the Tiny one more time.
To talk with Double Haul of what's happened around the traps during my nearly three months of non fishing, and to just have a chat in general, just thinking of what was to come: Fishing at Shady.

We stopped at the last tavern on the road and as it was raining, I bought a yellow poncho...
Well it was a very good buy, as it warned the rain off, and we didn't get any at shady, except at night so no worries on this side.
But the graded road was wet and when we arrived, the white car had changed of colour.

And this is a four wheels drive door...

We quickly launched, and as I was waiting for Double Haul return from the parking lot, holding the boat with my feet in the water, I could not help but look on my right, on my left, behind me, and behind the boat... But no croc in sight, all was good.
Then zoomed through the river and arrived at the mouth of Sampan...
A few boat were there, but no where in the number i imagined, from all I was told, and that was good too.

I was then instructed to put my biggest green lure on my line and we started the first troll run of the day...
And before I could even start to really take the place into consideration...
Double Haul rod bent violently, and he just got up and said, get the net if you want it, it is just a small one...
Didn't even get rid of his cigarette, just got the fish to the boat, nice and easy, like if it was just some bait for his billfish mania...
Netted the fish, he didn't want it, said something like already haviing some Goldies in the freezer, and offered me to keep it.
I said yes of course! A nice piece of fresh chrome directly out of the water, thank you very much! 
So it was bled quickly measured and was in the 80s...
Yeah right, just a little one...
If I had catch it myself, that would be my second best one...
Now I really wanted to see what the big ones looked like...

By now the water was glass, it was very impressive, at least to me.

Calm seas is what I like...

And the Threadies moved in...
100s of them, just rolling on the surface every where around the boat.
And they kept hitting our lures, but doing just that hitting them without getting hooked.
We tried every thing from subsurface lures to soft plastics, and different colours, but to no avail...
And still we could see them all around us, and we could feel them on our lines...
Every few minutes I would jump thinking that I had a fish...
Which brought out quite a few laugh from Double Haul...
To which I answered: I am in control, calm and zen...
And just as I would finish to say it, I would jump again...
Honestly it was frustrating, but good fun at the same time.

Then with nothing else being caught we went to a little river on the right of the mouth where we did not catch anything, but heard a big splash in the water not very far from us... A croc feeding, he must have caught more fish than us...
So with no fish for us there, we returned to see the Threadies and hopefully Barras from the mouth of Sampan.

As we arrived, there was nearly no boat left trolling the place, and we didn't see as many Threadies either.
But we continued to get some hit that did not transform themselves in hook-ups.
So I put a little B52's that Matt Flynn had given me a few months ago, and guess what?
I was on!
To a nice little blue Salmon!
So I decided to keep it for the mother in law, as I was not sure to get anything else...

Then we started to slowly make our way back to the barrage.
First we stopped on the flat for a bit of casting.
Where I hooked a very feisty little thing, that made two jump, shaking his head like mad, and spitted the lure on the second one...
Didn't even had the time to ID it as it was just to fast...
Not big, but full of energy.
Still was fun, and again on the same lure that the one I caught the Blue Salmon.
I start to like this lure!

Then to a few different spot trying on soft plastic, Double Haul even got a little barra, and a croc made a dash for it! But it was in the boat just in time to escape the jaws of death and was released alive.

The shifty croc that went for the hooked Barramundi.

Then, the visit of the Great Wall of China (A man made barrage mad e of big rocks), and view of the Sampan that gave it's name to the river. That was a great story and is part of the Territory history, who said that there can't be any cultural interlude in fishing? 
Ok, we did not stop to sip some Chardonnay... 

The boat that gave it's name to the creek.

The back at the barrage, where Double Haul asked me with a smile if I wanted to do a bit of land based fishing from the barrage...
Well, those who know me, might have guessed my answer to this one...
No way! Too many crocs around for my feet to stand there in the water... 

So back to camp where we installed the tents before dark and made a quick dinner of some good pork chops.
The mosquitos were not as bad as I had been told by many people that they would be.
And as soon as darkness set in... I had to excuse myself for being so bad company, but was really exhausted and was in serious need to get some sleep.
Yes for the soon to be parents... This is one of the side effect of this wonderful things that kids are...

Yet before I went to bed, Double Haul told me again that fishing at night from the barrage is a very good way to land your first metery...
Honestly, as much as I would love to get one... Not from there, thank you very much! 

The following morning we woke up nice and early, but not too much, it was just right.
Put the boat in the water after a quick breakfast, during which I equipped a green soft plastic from Reidy's with a long split ring and a nice brand new treble under the belly... Yes I wanted a second round with the Threadies if they were to continu teasing us... And off we went, in quest of a vengeance...

As we arrive, we found the water not as calm as the previous day, and still a few boat trolling the place.
And we did see some people starting to land some fishes.
Among them a boat full of young lads yahooing when catching what seemed a rather nice Powertail...

And speaking of Powertail...
Once again Double Haul rod, bent in half, and this time the line started to peel at a rather fast peace... 
So just as I finished to quickly retrieve my lure out of the water to take the wheel and steer the boat toward the fish...
Hu ho when was the last time I did something like that? I am sure I did it before but just can't remember when...
How do you do that?
Why when I try to steer the boat to the right is it going on the left? 
But step by step it was in the right direction, mostly.
And as line was gained, I was still saying: That must be a big Barra!  
The reply was short and to the point: It is not a Barra! It's a stinking Caty! 
I was then told that it hit like a train but did not made any jump and stayed at the bottom so that is was crtainly a Cat fish...
At first it had nearly spooled the Calcutta reel...
And yes it was a Caty, and it was not even lifted out of the water to be released.
Yet this fish with his powerful hit and run and managed to destroy the swimming action of a new big Bomber...
Bad luck that is, after that the lure would alway go on the right, and end up on my side of the boat.

So change of lure for Double haul and then I am on!!!
And the question I was asked was: Did you got a snag?
But the snag jumped and it was, in my books a nice Barra.
It came to the boat after a few jump and I am not kidding but literally made his last jump straight in the net, where it landed ready to be lifted out of the water. Once on the deck it was clear that he was still pretty green and tried to trash around as I was trying to grab the lure that was hanging from under it's jaws. Double Haul rapidly told me: Don't put your hand in there, and in retrospect, that was very good advice, as the animal was still jumping around in the net.
When asked if I wanted to keep it, I just asked if it was legal...  
Yes it was it was 78cm... (Around here they get legal at 55cm).
So in the esky it went.
And if I don't smile on the photo, this is just because of the sun hitting straight in my eyes.
But trust me I was very happy!

78 cm of joy.

We tried a bit longer for the big Mommas, but they didn't want to play with us.
So I put the "Super charged" soft plastic at the end of my line, and I got...
Another blue Salmon...

Then I put back a hard body, still trying for the big one, and just as I put my rod in the rod holder to grab a drink in the esky, I heard Double Haul saying something about jelly and my rod, so I glanced at my rod and it was at a nice angle with the water, bent and all!
So I jumped grabbed it and start to reel, to a funny strange feeling, not like a Barra, that's for sure... 
I should have given more attention at what I was told... I was hooked to a Jelly fish...
The positive in that?
Well this had never happened to me before, so now I can talk about it... 

A bit more trolling, then it was time to slowly make our way back towards the harsh reality of life...

On the way back home.

The lure that got me a Barra, a Big B52's from Reidy's.

And at the boat ramp we saw a broken fishing rod in one of the bin...

Someone must have had a bad day.

So it was a very good weekend where I discovered some new part of the Northern Territory of Australia, even if we did not get any of these very big Barramundi that we came for.

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

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Back into fishing.

Hi there,

I had not been able to fish in nearly three months...
In fact since I had a little car accident in mid november.
But being back from some rest overseas, I was starting to show some serious fishing withdrawal symptoms...
The twitch in my hand could have been wrongly interpreted, I just really wanted to flick a lure, not learn to play drums.

So I sent some PMs to some of the guys who form this disparate land based gang on the FFF forum, and one said he was at work, another that he was too tired to fish and so on...
But Sarrge got back to me and said let's go to the Cullen Bay rock wall.

So at 20 to 6 this morning I walked of the door of my home and found him already waiting, despite the fact that he had said that he would be there at 15 to 6.
The man was eager to get a fish too.
So off we go in his car (thanks for the lift), and arrived at the Cullen bay parking, and start to wait for Chase and Emma...
We had to wait for them as it was their first time fishing in Darwin, and they didn't know where to go.
They were no where in sight and arrived a bit later after a stop at one of the 24H fast food joint that they found on the way.

So quick we walk to the wall, arrive there, Sarrge and I casting some poppers a few time and Sarrge said: The water is too dirty, too much wind, we should go somewhere else. 
I said i's your call, and he said let's go to the gorge.
And that was a good call...

So back to the car, another drive and another walk, and there we are.

I start to try the popper again, and got the small half of a hit, but it did not connect.
All the while Sarrge took the time to start a trail of bread and I could see some swirls in the water on my left, and he explained to Emma what to do, and baited her hook.

Then in no time she was on.
And for the first time I saw someone saying: I have a fish! What do I do!  
And not holding the rod, but just he handle of the reel and waving her other hand while the reel screamed and the line peeled from it at good speed...
Then three blocks saying at the same time the fasted possible: Grab your rod! Hold on to your rod!
Of the four of us, I do not know who panicked the most...
But to her credit, she landed the fish and it was a nice little Golden trevally, that Chase dispatched and said that this would be his dinner.

So I restart to cast my lure, then change it for one of these spinner that I brought back from overseas. 
It has a very nice action and weight in the water, but did not produce on this day.
And mostly by now, I could see the three other getting bites and ear their reels singing...
So I took my other rod and too, started to use bread instead of a lure.

But they keep getting hits, and me nothing...
They continued to get some fishes and me nothing...
What was going on?

Then I got a very nice hit, and the line start to fly from the reel.
That is it my boy I said to myself, you are back in the game!
And my 15 pounds braid snapped...

They continue to get some action...
I dont...

Then I got another hit, I hook the fish and start to reel it in, it works, and Sarrge grabbed it as it is at his feet, and dropped it on the rock behind me.
Happy I was... Not for long...
I decide to bleed it first and grab it by the tail, start to poke my knife in the gills, and the animal makes a last attempt to freedom and fall from my hands, straight in the water at my feet, and despite bleeding and not being at his best manage to swim fare enough in the water that I did not want to wade in it after him... Remember my irrational fear of crocodiles? I let him go...
Ha! (x2)  

They continue to get some action.
Me not...
And to be fair, they all offered me each time that they caught a fish: "I already have enough for me, do you want this one of mine?"...
I politely decline saying that I will eventually catch my own...

And Sarrge who can't help himself but repeat for the 100s times: it is like fishing fishes in a barrel...
Yeah right!

Then I am on and get a fish, land it, and manage to bleed it, gut it and put it in my cooled bag on some ice...
Gee I had become rusty in the past three months! 

My first one after three months of abstinence.

And now I just want to catch one for my mother in law.
But once again, they catch some fishes, I don't ...
Once again: Pecheur do you want this one for your mother in law?
No, I will catch it myself...

Usually I accept with no shame the fishes given to me by other fishermen, but with so many trevally cruising at our feet, in full view that you just had to drop the bait in front of them... I wanted to get mine.

I then got a nice... Mullet!
And Sarrge to start to explain to the others that I loves fishing for Mullets and that I may make it last... 
Then I got another... Mullet!
I try to tell myself that I have to see the positive in it and that it is alway nice to catch a few different specie on a fishing trip...
Then I am on again, and it is no mullet!
The fish aim for the horizon, then come back toward me at full speed, then make a sharp turn for the left, and bingo! Straight in the mangrove trees...

Another line broken, another fish lost...
And still no fish for the mother in law...

Then a little tap tap on the line, and hope the line became tense the rod bent and we play again.
This time it is a smaller Trevally, and I land it, he is for my wife's mum.
I will stay in the good books!

By the time I have it bleed and gutted, resting on ice, the other are all sitting on the rocks.
I ask if there is any bread left?
Something like 3 slice, wet or crumbling take your pick... Out of 12 loaf of white bread...
So while they start to fillet their catch, I bait my hook, made a very nice cast, with the hook going on the left, and the bread on the right...
Of course Sarrge tells me that considering the amount of bread left, maybe I should be carful not to wast it...
With no shame I explain to him that I was just merely restarting the burley trail... 
I put another little piece of the white stuff on my hook, cast it and look at them in my back, still laughing, when I heard a little splash, and felt the rod suddenly pulling away from me.
Hu Ho be carful my boy!
And the run is long and fast once again for the horizon, then the thing swim fast toward the bank and I have some trouble to keep up with the fish as I can't retrieve fast enough. 
And I call it for a Milkfish...
Not very big I think, but a nice fish nonetheless to swim that fast.
I was right on the Milkfish thing, but not on the size thing... 

The milkfish start to take a big long run on my right, but step by step I can reel him in, and just as he arrive close, he takes another run, but for the left this time.
And that is when that I realise that just in front of me is a little single and lonely mangrove tree..
I though, ho I will have to be carful if he comes back around here that he does not get the line in there...
Well, this is just what he did!
So as I try to walk on the other side of the little tree, without getting in the water, the fish decided to head for the horizon one more time, and this untangled the line from the branches!
And not long after that he was back to the shore, and I was able to land it...
So when I said that I was wrong on his size...
It's a baby! 

Look at the baby.

Just a small Milkfish and he gave me all this trouble...

By then the other have nearly finished to fillet their fishes, and I decide that I needed a rest so started to cast a lure for a little while then to pack my stuff.
Then we wait for Chase to finish his last fish, and we walk back to the cars.

All in all, it was a great morning, I believe that we all released more fish than we kept, which is not a thing that I can afford to do on all my fishing trip.
I don't think that I ever saw that many Golden Trevally before. 
So thanks guy for having shared with me this new spot.

And yes, I did get slightly sunburnt.

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

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I got a Fishing Award.

I got a fishing award, not for my fishing, but for my writing about fishing.
I was awarded the FFF Fishing Legend 2010 in the 2010 FFF Awards from the excellent FFF forum.

This was a really unexpected thing for me, as many fisherman/fisherwomen on the forum are much better than me at the noble sport of angling. Catching better, bigger and more fish than I. So to be voted as one of the award recipients by the forum members is at the same time a great honour and very humbling for me.
And it might help me to justify a tiny little bit this fishing passion that keeps me away from Ms Frugal Down Under and Dolly.
Thanks again to all the people who voted for me, and to the forum owner for running such a great site.

So with no further ado I will show you all the cool stuff I got:

My first ever trophy.

An FFF mug.

Some insect repellent.

A book to learn how to catch Barramundi.

A great fishing magazine.

A really good cast net.

One FFF T-shirt.

And a second T-shirt made by the FFF.

Christmas all over again.

And to think that I have not fished since my little car accident.
If the weather permit, I will try to blow away the cobwebs this weekend and go to tease the fishes one morning for just a bit of time.
The fact is that I start to get some serious fishing withdrawal symptoms...

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