Tuesday, August 28, 2012

2012 Top End Barra Series Round 4.

Hi there,

Last weekend was the round 4 of the 2012 Top End Barra Series, and it was all happening at the Adelaide River Mouth.
Once again I teamed up with Arrabmundi, for a weekend of fishing.
We started early, leaving home at 4:00am on Saturday.
It is said that the early bird get the worm, but in this case it was the early fisherman get the fish.
As Arrabmundi got the first fish, just as the sun was about to rise:

Hooked in the darkness.

The fish had been hooked deep in the river, and we were full of anticipation, waiting to see it's colour.
And that was a nice surprise, as this was a fish that none of us had caught in the past:

Arrabmundi and the River Jew.

Not being sure if this fish was good to eat or not, it was put back in the water...
Later one some mates fishing the Barra Series too, told us that it should have been put in the esky, not back in the water... Well we will know it for the next time.
Any way, just after this nice capture, we started a little troll run, and I casted my lures at the back of the boat. Let some line out, to troll a fair way out, then put the reel on and started to wait for the lure to go down... But it didn't went very deep, as it was crushed by a little Barramundi as soon as in started to dive.
A quick and clean fight and the fish was in the boat!

First Barramundi of the weekend.

It wasn't a monster fish, but at 70cm (27.559055 inches), it was going to be my best Barramundi of the weekend. Yes the fishing was going to be hard. 
Still it was not yet 7:00 am, the sun was rising, and we already had boated to nice fishes, spirits were flying high.

Sunrise on the creek.

Then things slowed dramatically, and it was hard work to get a fish.
Yet, the landscape made up for it, this is another beautiful place for a bit of fishing.

Mangrove in the morning lights.

But after some more trolling, some more casting, and no more fish, we had a little meeting with two other boat involved in the competition, and decided to have a brainstorming in the best boardroom in the world:

Summit meeting in the boardroom.

After that we head to the creek number 2, where we saw Rossco and Lincoln.
Rossco gave me a cool little lure for my collection, thanks Rossco.
Then it was back to it, and Arrabmundi got a nice little Blue Salmon:

First Blue Salmon of the weekend.

This was the only Salmon for the day, but not the first of the weekend.
And this was a double hook up too!
Even if my fish was a bit smaller I was still very happy, because it was on a lure that I had never tried before. And double hook up are alway fun.

Snapper on the Tomahawk.

These Snapper taste real good, but this one being on the small side, I put it back.
At least it did give me confidence in the lure. It is always a good thing to catch a fish on a new lure, even if it is not of the targeted specie.

Some more trolling, some more casting and finally Arrabmundi got a Barramundi too:

Second Barramundi on board.

At 57 cm (22.440945 inches) this was a great relief for the two of us as we were now both on the board.

So we decided to get an early break, and stop fishing before sun down, in fact by mid afternoon. This would allow us to get back at the boat ramp before the low tide. So we could navigate the rock bar.
So at the end of day one, we both had a fish in the bag, and were discussing how to improve on that the following day.
The plan that was hatched was to come much later on the sunday, and to stay later on the day.
Bassically, to do the opposite of what we did on the first day.

Sunday saw us getting on the water at around lunch time, once again full of hopes and dreams.
We started by trolling a very little rumble in the middle of the Narrows, and it was nearly a Blue Salmon a pass.
It started with Arrabmundi getting one, then me, then hime again.
And on and on...

A little Blue Salmon.

And another one.

They were hitting pretty hard and giving a very good account of themselves in the rapid flowing current. And more that once we believed that we had hooked on a nice Barramundi, just to see that it was not once the fish neared the boat.
But it was still very good fun.
I even got a small Rock Cod in the middle of all that, but we couldn't get a Barra.
So we moved back to the Creek number one.
There, Arrabmundi got a very nice Snapper:

Snapper caught on lure.

And I finally landed my second Barramundi of the weekend!

Little Barramundi.

But it was 2cm (0.78740157 inches) short to be a point scorer!
So I put it back hoping for better.
And do you know what I soon got in guise of better?
A Catfish, that is what I got, a small Catfish...
Ho, and we were both having a sever case of Dropsie, and dropped a few fish that we would have loved to net...

Then not long after that, at the end of a troll run, we had just started to retrieve our lures, when I got a hook up.
Not a massive thing, but it did make a nice swirl on the surface.
The pressure was not super strong, but I could feel it pulling on the line.
Then the fish took some serious speed and swam from the back of the boat to the side of the boat in no time.
Ho ho, was it finally my big Mama Barra that I have been dreaming of for so long, getting ready to take off for the centre of the river and deeper water?
I started to get excited and wanted to see what it was.
Then I saw it...
It was just a small Queenfish...

Little Queenie.

This one I kept for Double Haul, who often ask me to get hime some small queenfish, so he could use them as skipping bait for Marlin fishing.
It was starting to be late, and we really wanted to catch some Barramundi.
And it finally happened, as we were casting some soft plastic in some snags, Arrabmundi started to drop one more fish, then he was on.
But the fish took him directly in the timbers for a dirty fight.
At one stage it was stuck between some submerged branches and mangrove roots.
But Arrabmundi did very well, and got it out of there, and swimming on the other side of the boat. Where I was waiting with the net and in the boat it came!

Last fish of the weekend

At 62cm (24.409449 inches), this was a good upgrade for Arrabmundi.
It is funny how even a day like that, even if it is not your fish, but your mate fish, it still makes you very happy. And happy we were.

But it was starting to be late, and with the sunset approaching we decided to call it a day, and to head toward the boat ramp and home.

Sunset over the weekend of fishing.

On the way back, it was starting to be dark, and the water was much lower than we had anticipated, we nearly didn't make it pass the rock bar, and had to zigzag over it to find the deeper waters that would allow the boat to sail through.
And once at the ramp, we were surprise by the big step at the bottom of it and were wondering how we were going to negotiate that.
Well the trailer was put pass the step, and the boat winched on it. Then the four wheels drive pulled the lot out of it and we were all safe on terra firma.

We didn't get all the Barramundi that we were hoping for, but we got a very nice mixed bag. We got some Blue Salmon, River Jew, Rock Cod, Snapper, Catfish and of course a few Barramundi. This to me was a pretty good weekend of fishing, thanks again Arrabmundi for inviting me on your boat, I had a really good time.

And were do I stand in the comp after this round?
Well remember after the round three, I ended up in 7th position. 
After this round I and now in 5th place, so it is not so bad in the end.
But I am not sure with two more rounds to go, that I will be able to stay this well placed on the overall scoreboard...

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

Monday, August 20, 2012

My First Saratoga

Hi there,

I finally got to catch my first ever Saratoga, and this is the story of the day it happened.
For a long time I had heard of these fish and seen photos of them.
Most of my fishing buddies had caught some, but I was Saratoga-less, if such a word exist.
Till the day when my good mate Mud gave me a call and asked me if I wanted to go fishing with him at Corroboree Billabong the following day.
This is a place where I had been just once before, and loved it.
The scenery is fantastic, and this is a good place to fish for Barramundi, and Saratoga.
A place where one need to be ready to cast his or her lure among the lilies and that is something that I always wanted to try.
So to Corrobore Billabong we went.
Once there, Mud told me to put a weedless lure on my line and to start casting as far as I could in the lilies...

Lilies and jumping fish.

And in no time doing just that, he caught the first saratoga of the day. Which you can see jumping on the end of his line in the above photograph.
I was amazed to see him catch a fish in such treacherous waters full of potential snag...
But he reeled it in with no worries and the first fish of the day was onboard.

First Saratoga of the day.

This is a specie of fish that I find very beautiful, and this was only the second one that I was able to see in the flesh.
Maybe 2 or 3 cast after I got a really good hit, nearly as soon as my frog hit the water she was taken by a good fish. So early in the swim that it made me jump in surprise.
But it didn't stay connected and swam away scott free.

We then moved a bit further away in the billabong, and Mud caught some more Saratoga.
As he had told me that most of the hits should happen far away from the boat, I was trying to do the longest cast that I could make. 
With my lure now in clear sight of the boat, I told myself that I was out of the strike zone, so I started to reel in my lure faster, just to get it out of the water and cast it away in the distance again.
And this is when just below our eyes a Barramundi had a go at my little frog and totally inhaled it. I was on! this was a short battle as the hookup took place so close to the boat, and it was a still very green Barra that ended in the boat.

Frog down the throat.

First Barramundi of the day.

This was my first fish on a frog lure, and I was very happy with that.
As the fish had obviously been in the billabong for a long time and was a bit dark on the back, I decided to put it back in the drink, and hoped to catch another cleaner one...

Here is the little lure that I used to catch this fish:

The frog lure.

By then I was definitively confident in the lure, which after all had got me a good solid hookup on the second hits only.

We moved to another place, where we didn't get any joy on the fishing front.
But the place was still very beautiful, and very relaxing, a really peaceful location.

Lilies and Pandanus.

Again we scouted to another of Mud favourite spot, and this was going to prove a place full of action, and full of tough lilies.

The lilies.

Can you imagine casting your lure in there?
Well, that is just what we did. All the time thinking that if we were to hook a good fish, drama might come screaming in our sorry ears...
As we drifted a bit we arrived in the shadow of some pandanus and casted against the tree roots. We started to get hits after hits, both of us. Mine were usually pretty strong but never stayed connected. Mud's ones were staying connected... Experience I guess.
But despite staying connected to his fishes, he would often loose them as they started to go ballistic in the lilies. In which case we often had to go and get the hook out of the lilies stems, where the fish had placed them... 
This is when I first noticed a rather large croc, coming for my lure, that was dangling from a lillie pad. Lucky I got the lure back before the croc.
Seeing that, we decided to move a bit further away, and Mud started to land Saratoga, like if this was an easy job.

Mud and another Saratoga.

At one stage he hooked on a very nice fish, which immediately started to make his reel sing. Like if the drag system had not been invented yet. But the fish went in some mix of pandanus and lilies root, and got lost. This was upsetting as it could very well have been the best fish of the day, without much doubt. 

Then he got one who got stuck on an underwater snag. But he managed to get it out of the snag and to reel it toward the boat.
I was still reeling in my lure from the back of the boat and Mud was at the front.
This is when I heard him shout: "He's going for it! He's going for it!"
To which I replied: "What?"
And his answer sent a jolt through my whole body: "The croc!"
As I turned my head to these words, the only thing that I saw was the inside of a big white mouth full of teeth approaching the boat at great speed, followed by a big black scaly tail. Then bang! It hit the side of the boat, and in no time Mud and I found ourselves standing exactly in the middle of the  boat.
We could hear it hissing and being upset under the gunwale, but none of use went to have a look...
Mud said: "Start the engine! Start the motor!"
But did it himself at the same time that he was saying it, and got us out of there as quick as he could, and I still thank him for that.
From his estimate the crocodile was between 3.5 meters to 4 meters. (11.48294 to 13.1233613.12 foot). This would have definitively be big enough to give us some worries if one of us had fallen in the water.
After that, we decided to move away from this very good fishing spot...
And Mud started to get some more Saratoga.
Then I got a hit and as it jumped I saw a little Saratoga pulling on my line!
I got really excited and was afraid that it would spat the hook before being in the net.
I was between laughing and stress, as I really wanted to get this little fish.
And it finally came close to the boat, I grabbed the leader and pulled it over the boat side, I had my first Saratoga!

My first Saratoga.

It might have been just a baby one, but ho boy, I was as happy as if it had been a monster one!
And I got in on a small weedless lure that I had seen Arrabmundi use with great success on my prior visit to this very billabong, nearly a year ago.
I will use these lures again.

And Mud continued to get some more Saratoga:

Sunset and Saratoga.

Between the scenery and the fishing, this is really a great place to wash your mind from all the worries of the week.

With the night falling upon us, Mud said that we were to do a bit of trolling.
He put a little Spear Head on his line, and I put a Big Lucifer on mine.
And in no time he got a little Tarpon.

First little Tarpon.

Which was rapidly followed by another one, one more time by Mud.
I was starting to wonder if I should change my lure, when I got a good hit.
The strike was frank, and I said maybe more loudly that I would have liked: "I'm on!"
As the line was peeling from my reel, I got up and steadied myself ready for the fight, when the line even if still tight, was much easier to wind back.
So I said: "Ho this is not a monster, this is a small one, maybe even just a Tarpon."
Deep inside I was starting to think that I would have loved a nice clean Barramundi, one that I could have brought back home. Not too far from the boat it jumped, and in the light of Mud head torch I saw it. It was actually a bit bigger that I believed it to be. On nearing the boat, it found back some energy and took some line again, like if this was no problem for him.
In the end it was close enough to be netted and Mud did a pretty good job at it.
In the boat was my second Barramundi of the day.

The last Barramundi of the day.

At 72cm (28.346457 inches), this was no monster, but it was bigger and cleaner than the first one. In fact it was even to big to be placed in any of the two small esky that we had.
Mud remedied to this by quickly dispatching and filleting the Barra, and in the esky it went.
I was going to be able to feed my little family.

We tried a few other places, casting mostly in the lilies again, but without much success.
So we had to try one last place for one last cast, you know how it is... Just one last cast...
This is when in full sight of us, real close to the bow of the boat, we saw a big thing, engulfing my little surface lure.
And it started to take some line, like no other fish that I had hooked on this very day.
But it didn't jump...
Yet it was still very exciting to fight this thing in the darkness and to try to guess what it could be.
Regularly, I thought that I had it, and it would make another run for it.
In the end, it was boat side, but still underwater and we hadn't seen it's colour yet.
Then it surfaced and we saw it, the thing that had grabbed my surface lure was a rather nice catfish.

Not really a kitten. 

After the croc that we saw earlier in the day, there was no way that we were to try to unhook this fish in the water at night time.
So in the boat it came, and we got very carful as to were we placed our feet.
I was still excited from the capture, and didn't know if I should laugh or get worried about how to get my lure out of this catfish gob. In the end this might have helped me and it was a rather quick and easy process.
Then a quick photo for posterity, and a release, so it can go and make millions of other little catfish for other people to catch.

So this is the story of the day I caught my first Saratoga.
I really had a great time, which brought to me some much needed head space, thank you Mud.
But when I look at the photos of it... I really need another hair cut...

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

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mega Prize From The Show.

Hi there,

Not long ago, I went to the Royal Darwin Show 2012.
There, I won a really cool prize, just by writing my name and phone number on a piece of paper, and dropping it in the barrel.
Another proof that to win it, you have to be in it.

This was a free raffle organised by the Department of Resources of the Northern Territory Government. Thank you guys!

Every times that I went to the Royal Darwin Show, I entered this raffle, and had never won it before. When you are going to see the prize, you will understand why I was happy, even if it is not all about fishing.
In fact when I entered it this year, my partner told me that it would be great if we could win, as it had things for the whole family in it. From our little one, to her and for I, even a little thing for the mother in law!

So by now, you might want to see what it is all about, no?
Here comes the best grin and grip photo of all times...

Two happy chaps.

Thank you Matt.
Ok, you can't see much of it there, so here it is in details.
First the parts that will go to my little one:

An aquarium.

Yes a full aquarium, with a pump, some little coloured stones, fake plant and even a $25.00 voucher to get some fishes from the pet shop.
Ho yes the little one is more than excited with that.
And this is not all what she got...

Quartz mining and bugs.

Now the people who organised this prize, must have some kids, or are still very young at heart. Maybe both...
Because yes the quartz/crystal thing made her jump with joy, and the bugs are so cool!
Hours of play to comes.

Then there is the thing for my beloved, the mother of our child.

Garden stuff.

Some seeds, a book about gardening, a bug catcher, and a card to buy stuff at Bunnings!
(Bunnings is a hard-wear store with plenty of gardening tools).
Ms Frugal Down Under was happy to get all this for her garden.
And she even got the mega pot in which all of these goodies came to us:

The big pot.

I am not sure yet of what will grow in this pot, but it will be great I am sure.

In all of this, there was also something for my mother in law:

Beescreek Honey.

A jar of Beescreek Honey, made here in the Northern Territory.
It is always good to have some local product on the table.
Where ever you are, the local products consistently seem to taste better.

And what about me and the fishing?
Here it comes, I kept the best for the end...

Now we are talking.

A great fishing rod Crystal Blue Power Tip in the Fishing and Outdoors World edition, one of my favourite shop in Darwin.
With a Shimano Alvio 4000FC reel, this combination might become my lunch break combo. 
With that was a waterproof book of fishing knots by Geoff Wilson.
And one beautiful Barra Blitz lure, handcrafted in the NT by Nautilus.
The more it goes, the more I love these timber lures.

So yes a mega prize, with goodies for all the family.
What else could we ask?
Nothing much really.

I did went and try the rod and reel this morning for about half an hour from the Fishermen Wharf, and it worked very well. In fact I was even happily surprised by the casting distance of this little rod.
Yes it would have been good if I had caught a fish in the short amount of time that I was there, that would have made for a great pic for this post...
But I came back from my field testing empty handed.

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