Sunday, September 22, 2013

2013 Top End Barra Series Round 5.

Hi there,

Not long ago the fifth round of the 2013 Top End Barra Series took place on the very picturesque Corroboree Billabong, not very far from Darwin.

Nomad was not sure if his boat would be fixed in time for the round, so I was very lucky to be offered a spot on Peter's boat.
It was still dark when Muntzy picked me up, and on the road to the billabong we went, To catch up with Peter and Dingo at the boat ramp, picking up Dean on the way.

Last year round at Corroboree, had been an absolute fishing failure for me.
With just a minuscule Catfish caught in two days of very heavy fishing. I had not hooked a single Barramundi, and had been hit by countless Saratoga, but could not stay connected to a single one of them. For a full year, I had been waiting, to take my revenge... And more than anything else, I wanted to catch a few Saratoga, and if possible a good one.
Well, yes, for me during this round, it was going to be the year of the Saratoga.

Arrived at the ramp, before we launched the boats, in the morning light, Dingo gave me the Tonic Sunglasses that I had won for a photograph that I had made in the previous round.
The sunglasses, were going to prove themselves to be very helpful during the weekend.
They are great,  simply the best fishing sunglasses I ever had.

We went straight to the Rock Hole, to do a bit of trolling first thing.

The Rock Hole in the morning.

I love the place, it is beautiful, with always a lot of wildlife to look at.
Other competitors were doing the same thing:

Trolling along the Pandanus.

Trolling a hard body lure along the pandanus, is a great way to get into some good Barramundi.
The technic worked fort the boat in the above photograph, as it caught the biggest Barramundi of the weekend.
It even worked for us, but not on the Barramundi front...

Peter and the first fish of the weekend for our boat.

In no time Peter got a hit and we got excited... He reeled in a little Catfish, yes, there is a lot of them in the waters of the billabong. But a fish is a fish, and we, or at least I was very happy, as I believed that this was proof that we were onto a fishy patch.
Well it would be a bit of time before the next fish.
Between the first one and the second one, we were lucky enough to spot a rather large buffalo, having a bit of a bath at the water edge.

Water Buffalo having a chill out time.

And not long after, Peter got a Tarpon:

Peter's first Tarpon.

This was Peter first ever Tarpon, and it is alway very satisfying to catch a new specie.
The mood was on the happy side of things.
Then, one more time, it was going to be a few hours before we get some fish on boards again.
To the extant, that we had a mini raft up with three or four other boats, chatting away, talking fishing and general fisher people's banter. All the while most of us were flicking lures towards the bank. Many of my friends, got hit by fishes, but none of them boated a fish on this occasion. I was the only one, to not get a single hit, this seemed very wrong to me. Most of them had already earlier in the day, caught either a Saratoga, a Barramundi or any other fishes that live in these landlocked waters.
But not me, I was yet to get a single hit, and was starting to question my choice of lure.
After spending so long thinking of a technic that would help me to have a better hookup rate than last year, I decided to stick to it a bit longer. 
That may have been my wisest move of the weekend.

As the raft up disintegrated itself, with everyone going in opposite directions, to get on with the business of catching some fish. Just our boat and Nomad's boat, which had been fixed just in time to enter the round, were still tied together, and as we drifted to the other side of the billabong. Peter, Nomad and I exchanging jokes about anything and everything, with me being the only one still casting my fishing lure around.
This is when I got my first Barramundi of the weekend, while I was targeting the mighty Saratoga:

My first Barramundi of the weekend.

They both said that it was rude of me, to catch a fish while we were having a deep and meaningful conversation... Of course I did not share their point of view...
The fish was 61cm (24.015748 inches), not really a giant, but it was one of the mystery sizes of the event. So it won me a prize!
Seeing that I had caught a fish, both Nomad and Peter started to fish too, and Nomad got a Saratoga!
This was a nice fish, and made us think that it was time to take things a bit more seriously, so we untied the boats and fished in earnest.

I got another hit, I hooked up and I then reeled in a new personal best for me. But it was not a Barramundi or a Saratoga. No, it was the biggest Archerfish I had ever caught.

A rather nice Archerfish.

I don't know if it was pure greed, or territorial or familial protection that pushed this fish to hit my lure, but seeing the size of the lure, compared to the size of the fish, I was in admiration for it's determination.

After three fishes had been caught in the same area, we though that we were on the right spot at the right time, and decided to work it a bit longer. This resulted in a fish that made me very happy, my first Saratoga of the weekend.

My first Saratoga of the weekend.

Yes it was a Barramundi competition, but I really wanted a Saratoga. And in fact, there was also prizes for the best Saratoga of the round. Secretly, I hoped to get one of the top three Saratoga of the event.
The first one was a good one, but I thought that I needed better for that.
So I persevered, and got a second one! Albeit a bit smaller.

A smaller Saratoga.

This one was smaller, but started to make me think that I might be able to catch another one, that would hopefully be better. Still casting in the lilies, I got a hit, it connected and it pulled stronger. Was this the big Saratoga that I was pinning for? It jumped out of the water, and I could see that it wasn't, yet it was exciting nonetheless: it was a Barra!

A little Corroboree Billabong Barramundi.

At only 48cm (18.897638 inches), it was 2cm short to be a point scorer... I felt a bit like sitting on it, to see if that would make it longer, but instead, released it to grow a bit more for the next time.
This was fun fishing, getting the fish out of the lilies, on a soft plastic lure. I am more of a hard bodies lures type of guy. But flicking a lure among the lilies and Pandanus roots, I felt a lot more comfortable with a weedless soft plastic lure.
By then it was late in the afternoon, nearly evening and we decided to catch up with other people participating in the round, to see where the night raft up would be. With the time that it took us to find them, and to join the ones who had already started to raft up, it was night time.
Food was eaten, tales were told, and the party started.

All I will say, is that some loud music was played, and some multi-coloured  disco lights were seen. 
it must have been past midnight by the time I fell asleep. And the music was still going strong, lucky, there is not too many neighbours on the water...
It was a good raft-up, with enough boats to keep it alive.
Some coming and leaving as the night progressed.

But soon enough, it was morning, and the call for action sent some very tired fisherman, in search of their prey.
The morning on the billabong is always a sight to admire.

View from the boats before the rising sun.

DUO pocopoco  and sunrise over Corroboree Billabong.

With its matinal warmth, the sun finally came up, before grilling us for the rest of the day.
Quickly, I rigged my line, with the same lure that had worked on the previous day, a weedless Gulp soft plastic.

Weedless Gulp soft plastic.

Not only I usually prefer to fish with hard bodies than soft plastics, but to top it up, the Gulp really stinks. From all the soft plastic that I have ever used, they are certainly the ones with the worst smell. Yet  one of the main reason I wanted to used them, is that they are biodegradable. Having read about the destructive power of the Saratoga bony mouths, I thought that if they were to destroy my lures these ones would left less, if none pollution in the billabong water.
As a bonus, they proved to be very effective, for me on this occasion.

On the Sunday morning, we started to troll, on the edge of the water lilies. I could not resist and stepped   on the cast deck at the front of the boat, and began to flick again, straight in the lilies and other snags. 
While I had a rod trolling a hard body at the back of the boat.
As my trolling lure from the Saturday had not produced any results, I changed and put a little lure that had been offered to me by Peter Z.
And it worked I got a fish! it is just that, it was another Catfish...

Catfish on the Tilsan.

This was going to be the only fish I caught on a hard body and on the troll for the full weekend. All my other fish had been caught on a soft plastic, casting towards the Pandanus roots or in the lilies.
It was definitively exciting fishing.

And yes the Saratoga were on again:

I love fishing for Saratoga.

Double portrait.

We saw a few very large crocodiles during the weekend, and tried to alway be on the lookout for them.
One of them swam past not very far from the boat, but by the time I got my camera ready it was well past us.

Corroboree Billabong crocodile.

Then I got one of these little fish that I really like.
A Mouth Almighty, this is a rather small fish, but with great character.
It is a mouth brooder, the male keep the eggs in it mouth to protect them.
When Barramundi are very young and small, it is one of their worst nightmare, but as soon as the Barramundi become bigger, the roles changes, and Mr Barra then feast on the poor little Mouth Almighty.
And here is mine:

Mouth Almighty or Glossamia aprion.

Despite their small size, they are considered a very good table fish. But I let him go, he was a nice little fella.
Peter, had decided that he didn't want to fish anymore, and was very happy to just steer the boat around, driving me to the best spot, so I could fish, enjoy the moment, and hopefully get to upgrade my fish from Saturday to a better one. This was very kind of him, and I asked him a few time if he wanted us to go back to Darwin. To which he alway replied that no, he was having a great time too, just sailing the billabong. It is true that it is a very beautiful place.
Then I got another Saratoga:

Little Saratoga.

And I finally caught a better Saratoga, which I was hoping would get me in the top three biggest Saratoga of the weekend:

My biggest Saratoga so far.

This was my personal best Saratoga, at 72cm (28.346457 inches).
I know that they can grow much bigger, but this one was in fact going to be big enough to be the biggest of the round! It won me a prize too, this was two prizes for the round. It was a long time that I had won a prize for catching a fish, so two in the same weekend made me more than happy.
And also the fact that I finally had a revenge on the Saratoga that had proven so elusive to me last year.
I was indeed, very happy.

As a little extra, I then managed to catch a little Sleepy Cod:

Sleepy Cod from the Billabong.

This is another excellent eating fish, but I let it go too.
It made me happy that between Peter and I we had caught such a mixed bag of fishes. It shows that the system is very healthy, with a wide variety of fish living in it.

But by then, it was nearly mid afternoon, so we decided to catch up with other participants, for a little chat, and see what they had caught. We saw Moz, who had caught all his fish of the weekend, with his home made fishing lures. This was a great effort, and demonstrated the quality of his work.

We then left them fishing and headed for the ramp, then the road towards home.

On the road again.

This in my books, will stay as a great weekend. 
Thank you Peter, for the invitation to fish from your boat, I had a ball!
Even if, yes I know, I have done the rude thing of out fishing my skipper...

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

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My New Sunglasses.

Hi there,

I have just received my new polarised sunglasses that I will use for fishing.
And they have already been tested with success last weekend...

But first what are they, and how did I get them.

They are Tonic Eyewear sunglasses, and the frame name is Shimmer (mines are gloss black).
With high contrast copper photochromic glasses.
The kind of glasses that I was dreaming of, but was alway buying the much cheaper one, as I could not afford these ones.
So why did I finally got a pair of them?
Well, the Top End Barra Series also have prizes for the best picture of each rounds...
And the shop The Tackle Box NT, is offering a pair of sunglasses for the winner.
And lucky me, one of my pics ended with the most like.

So, what do they look like?
Here is a little pic of them in action, with my best Saratoga ever:

Tonic sunglasses and Saratoga.

In fact you are going to see this image in my next post again...
Because it was during the fifth round of the 2013 Top End Barra Series, and this very fish, won me the biggest Saratoga of the round, for which, I will receive, a new fishing shirt and fishing hat from the Tackle Box!
How cool is that?
This is a shop that I must visit one day, as it have the reputation of having one of the most extensive range of exotic fishing lures in town. And yes, people who have been reading this blog for a little while, will know that I like fishing lures...

Oh, and what was the photo that won?
You have already seen it, but here it comes again:

Beautiful light in Wilshire Number one.

And this is all for today.
It was a long time since I didn't win anything, and it might be a long time before I win again.

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

Thursday, September 12, 2013

2013 Top End Barra Series Round 4.

Hi there,

Not long ago was the fourth round of the 2013 Top End Barra Series, it took place at Salt Water Arm, and it was great.
Why you may ask...
Well, let me tell you the story of it.

It started a bit on the wrong note. As I got a call just a few days before the event, from the skipper of the boat I should have boarded. Saying that his outboard was broken...
He was not able to get it fix before the competition, so I had a very short time to find a post of decky on another boat.
Lucky me, Rossco, one of the organiser of the Top End Barra Series, gave me a call on the same day, and offered me to be a passenger on his vessel.
That was one thing sorted, now we would have to find the Barramundi.

Rossco picked me up at rather early time on the Saturday morning, and we quickly were on the road, full of hope and joy.
When we arrived at the ramp, other people had already arrived, but we were not the last ones, far from it.
The weather was perfect, and it was neap tides, what a glorious day, I told myself...

Launching at Salt Water Arm.

It was a rapid launch, and we went straight for the Narrows, where we spent a short time trolling before making our way towards the Wilshire Number Two. The little creek where we were to catch over twenty fish over the weekend...

It started very fast with Rossco getting on the action, in no time:

First Barramundi of the weekend.

Rossco was on the board, his first fish was a point scorer, and he could already start to relax and take it easy.
Which he did, by catching another Barramundi!

Two in a row.

That was it, I had to do something...
So I caught a fish too:

My first little Barra of the weekend.

It was not a big fish, but at least I had caught one and it made me happy.
It was such a long time since I had caught a Barramundi, that it was like Christmas.
And then I was on a lucky strike, and caught a few fish, one after the other:

Barramundi number two for me.

Even small fish are sweet.

This one must have been one of the smallest Barramundi that I ever caught.

A bit better.

And my third Barramundi for the day, was finally a point scorer. Not a big one, but big enough to put me on the board too. This round was not going to be a donut for me.
After catching three Barramundi, I had to have what I would call a luck realignment...
And I got a small Catfish on the lure...

Catfish on the F18.

On this photo, you can see the lure, which one I caught all my fish during this round. I did try over ten different  fishing lures, but always came back at the one that was catching, ever and ever.
In fact, at the end of the weekend, I noticed that the bib of the lure had been deformed, and that the lure could not swim properly anymore, I will have to get a new one. 
I did try with timber hard body, plastic hard body, surface lure, plastic lures, but alway came back to the Classic F18 in Elton on Chrome colour. It was the outstanding performer over the two days of fishing.

After that, Rossco came back in the game, and snared another Barramundi:

Barramundi joy.

It is hard to describe how much joy can be derived to catching small Barramundi.
But to have them hit the lure in an aggressive manner, peel a bit of line and jump around, is just great. 
So I got another one too!

Happy Barramundi fishing.

Then Rossco got a beautiful Koi Catfish...

The Koi Catfish.

Ok, this is not a Koi, but it was a really beautiful fish, and it was the first time that Rossco had one like this, so this was a very nice bonus for the weekend. In all of my time fishing in the Top End of Australia, I must have seen this type of Catfish only two or three time.

Rossco strike again.

It was the last fish of the first day, and what a day it had been. In fact, the day wasn't exactly finished...
First we had to sail the boat in the sunset, to join the Raft Up.

Sunset and fishing lure.

Just at twilight we found the other boats who had already started the raft up.
The light was fantastic.

Beautiful evening light.

The boats were in Wilshire number One, and a party mood was already on the cards.
But as always, what happens in a raft up, stays in the raft up, so no photo, no gossips...

Just a picture from the morning after, and the reason of the good smell on the river:

Moz and Dean with Egg and Beacon.

Yes they were cooking in the early morning, best way to get your energy back.
Now, these two chaps, are not just two guys participating in the same tournament than me.
They are a lot more, first they are good mates of mine, but on top of that, both have started to make their own lures. Beautiful hand made wooden fishing lures. And have caught a lot of fish throughout the event with them. Dean caught all his fish with them, and finished fourth, that says a lot about the quality of his fishing lures.

And the icing on the cake?
They both gave me one of their lures, which I am not showing you now, because they will deserve their very own post very soon, so stay tuned for it.

The morning light seemed like a good omen too, it looked like the fishing gods were in our favour.

Sunrise on the creek.

It was one of these morning were you feel happy to be alive. Not because you have just escaped a certain and painful death. No, but simply because the world is beautiful.
To celebrate, I caught a little fish:

First fish of day two.

Yes, I do not look like I am fully awake yet... But trust me, having even a baby Barra on the end of the line, is a sure way to wake up quick smart.
It felt so good, that I did it again:

Another little Barramundi.

It might not have been a monster fish, but it was still the eleventh Barramundi to be boated for the weekend. There is something very satisfying when you target a certain specie and you manage to find them. Even if you only found the small ones, at least, you know that the fish are around.

And after my showing off from the early morning, Rossco decided to show me what he was made of, and managed to catch 5 fishes in a row.

Even little fish makes you smile.

A bit bigger.

This fish wasn't exactly a giant, but I wanted to get a photo of all the fishes that we would get over the two days event. So we photographed them all. Just as we were doing the photo of this little fella, a boat with a few people in it, passed us on the river... We had a good laugh at how they must have tough that we were desperate to take photographs of such a small fish.
But as I often said, even if I dream of catching a very big one, one day. I still prefer a day with ten smaller ones than a day with just a large one... So yes it was some happy times, with plenty to entertain us.

just another rat Barramundi.

And one more.

And then to mix things up a bit, it was a different specie:

Threadfin Salmon.

Threadfin Salmon are often a great by-catch when targeting Barramundi. Rossco, didn't want this one, so he offered it to me. To which I replied that it would be a nice present for my mother in law, as she like a fresh fish when I can get her one. And it would keep me in the good books...
So I brought it back for her.

Seeing all the fish that he was getting, I wanted some of the action too, so I kind of wake up, and jumped in it, so to speak. It was now my turn to catch the little critters.

Back in the game.

A nice little guy.

Three in a row.

This was my last fish of the weekend, and I was very happy with the score.
Rossco was still to catch his best of the weekend, and he did it:

Silver salt water Barramundi.

This was a nice piece of piscatorial chrome, and we cheered this fish like if it had been a much larger fish.
It was the last Barramundi of the weekend.
It was now time to head back home, with our hearts full of joy and our head, already thinking about all the fish that we would get the next time...
I had a very good weekend, thank you Rossco, for inviting me on your boat.

So yes, some people could say that we got the quantity, but no biggies...

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