Saturday, January 18, 2014

Wallaby Rescue.

Hi there,

Yes today I am going to tell you the story of an Agile Wallaby rescue, in a blog that is usually mostly about fishing.
But bear with me, it has to do with fishing…

It started with a wrongly timed trip on the Adelaide River, near Darwin. A river known for its very large concentration of big salt water crocodiles, Crocodylus porosus.
Jim and I had gone fishing, hopping that the river would have started to drop, but drop it didn't.
In fact we should have been able to see it straight at the boat ramp. I had never seen the water so high on it, while going fishing:

Boat ramp on the Adelaide River.

We couldn't find any calm and clear water anywhere, except in a few little creek flowing in the Adelaide.
The causeway on Goat Island, was under water.
Jim estimated the water  to be flowing at around 15 km per hour. (9.3205679 miles per hour).
So we first started to slowly make our way back, still trying to flick our lures wherever we hopped to find a Barramundi.
When we saw the approaching storm, we decided that a quick run to the ramp was in order.

Storm coming on the river.

Jim went on full throttle, and the mix of rain and wind, made us feel rather cold, to say the least or to stay polite. I bowed my head, trying to protect myself with my hat while Jim was trying to see the floating logs, so no crash would happen.
When suddenly, he stopped and turned the boat around.
Raising my head I asked what was the matter? Jim pointed to a floating, moving thing in the water and said:"there is a possum or something swimming in there".
I looked, and saw the little head bobbing in the water. As soon as it realised that we had turned for him, he started to swam in earnest, in direction of the boat.
I first thought that I should take a photo of it swimming in the fast flowing waters. But remembering that we were basically where they do the jumping crocodiles show, I scooped it quickly in the net. Before it become someone's snack.
Jim pulled out a nice little joey from the fishing net:

Jim and the dripping wet Agile Wallaby.

This was a very nice little guy. Yet in Jim's arms, it soon went a bit feral, started to make funny noises, tried to scratch and bite.

Wallaby onboard.

Quick thinking was needed, I was laughing, so Jim did it, and he emptied a small cooler bag, and presented it to this little guy, who without too much persuasion dived in it head first.

Wallaby in the cooler bag.

It instantly calmed down, so much in fact that we started to worry that he might have suddenly died.
But when trying to pull him out, he showed in no uncertain ways that he was still very much alive.
So we decided to leave him in there until we would be back at the car.

What's in your bag?

And this photograph, is with no doubt the best advertising for Jack Daniel's, Territory style…

At the car Jim put him in a dry beach towel, where it fell asleep, exhausted little thing.

Cute as a button, a sleeping joey.

From there we took it to an animals refuge who in turn would hand it to the local prison. There as part of a program, the inmates will take care of it and put him back in good shape. After what it should be release in the wild.

As a bonus, here is a photo of yours truly, to show you that I was really there:

Holding a wallaby joey.

Thank you Jim for inviting me on this trip.
This is how an otherwise uneventful fishing trip, turned into one that is definitely a memorable one.
Even if once again, I came back home fish less…

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

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Darwin Dart.

Hi there,

The Darwin Dart is a lure close to the heart of many Territorians. Yet it was made in Narooma, NSW. So, why so much love in the North?

To start you have the name: Darwin Dart, clever marketing …
And then came its fish catching ability.
A quality due to the passion for fishing from its maker: Mick Elliot.
Mr. Elliot started to make his own lure as a teenager in Queensland. After his family had moved to NSW. With the help of his father and brother, Mick started to produce his lures for the commercial market, in 1983. First carved by hand from White Beech wood, the success and demand for the Darwin Dart quickly become too much for the trio. They had to use a copy lathe to respond to the popularity of their product. The ever-growing success of the timber lure prompted the Elliot family to finally decide to change the whole process and start to make plastic molded lures. The metal bib was replaced by a plastic one, and become integral part of the lure. A rattle was added in the belly of the lure. The success continued.

The Darwin Dart. 

The production has stopped a few years ago. The word on the street is that the molds have all been destroyed when the production ceased.

Portait of a Darwin Dart.

This was a popular lure for Barramundi, Mangrove Jack and other Top End scaly critters. 
An old timer, once even told me that he loved to troll them at speed for Mackerels. Saying that the lures would then flip over and come skipping on the surface, this was how he caught some of his best Macks. Until one bigger than usual, who swam in the sunset with it, took away his last Darwin Dart.


This timber Darwin Dart, might not be in perfect condition, but I will sure take care of it, and it won't swim no more.
Yes they are missed in many fishing tackle boxes.

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

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

First Barramundi In 2014.

Hi there,

I finally got my first Barramundi for the year 2014.
Not a big one, but a fish is a fish, as they say. And to be honest, I was still very happy with that, as I had nearly forgotten what it feels like.

Jim had offered to take me on his boat, to some of his secret spots, I was hopping to finally break the drought and catch a Barra.

We launched at around 10:00 in the morning, a big change from all the trips that require a 4:00am start.
And just after the launch, we sailed along the mangrove, toward our destination.

Along the mangrove in the morning light.

But once arrived there, we didn't catch a single fish. We did saw a few Barramundi and sight casted in their direction, but without success. At one stage Jim got a good hit, but the hit didn't transform in a hooked fish. Yet navigating in a tight creek, with mangrove on bot side, was really pleasant, something that I had missed.
I realised very quickly, due to the amount of times my lure ended in the trees above the banks. Instead of the water where the fish are supposed to live, that I had become a bit rusty, this was clear.

So we decided to try our luck, at another spot. On our way there, we trolled our lures, in the hope to snag a stray Barra. I had a Gold Bomber on, and was just thinking that I had never done any good with them. When I got a smallish hit on the line, and started to get excited. I reeled in  the line, sure that I finally had a baby Barramundi and the end of it. Alas no, it wasn't a Barramundi, it was a Pufferfish.
And worse of all, it hadn't try to have a go at my lure, no, the poor little thing had been hooked, near its back side…
I can't find the picture anymore, or I would have shown it to you, honest.

Then we tried to cast at some snag along the bank of another creek, and Jim landed a Cod, but it was no monster:

First cod of the day.

This cod was taken on a Reidy's B52's, in a colour that I had never seen, not even on the Reidy's catalogue. But obviously, that was a good colour, as in no time, Jim got a second little Cod.

Two in a row.

Seeing that I decided to change my lure for a smaller one, in white.
And in no time, I too was on the Cod board, with an even smaller model:

My baby Cod.

All these little Cod were returned alive to the water, as they definitively needed to grow a bit more before anything else.
Oh, and this photo is also the why I should not try to bear the beard…
The water clarity was pretty good, and we saw a very little snake swim in the water, Jim put his lure near it to give you an idea of size:

Snake (Hydrelaps darwiniensis) and fishing lure.

My friend the snake specialist, B. Schembri, has since told me that this little guy is a black-ringed mangrove sea snake (Hydrelaps darwiniensis) and that they get to about 50 cm long. 
(19.685039 inches).

With such stellar results, we decided to make our way back, and maybe stop at a last creek on the way, depending of the tide.
On our arrival to the last creek, the water looked good, clear, with some snag and some colour change in places.
In my second or third cast, I got a hit and missed it before seeing it, but to me, that felt like a Barramundi, no doubts about it. I said to Jim: I got a hit! Just there, close to the boat, just in this spot!
So Jim, cast roughly in the same direction, and got nailed by a feisty little Barra! I asked if he needed the net, he said that no, this was just a rat and he would deal with it by himself. 
Well, he didn't really had the time to, as just at the boat, the Barramundi spat the lure and swam away without asking any question.
Anyway, we were now in the right spot, for sure we were going to catch some nice Barramundi.
Hope is a beautiful thing, isn't it?
Well Jim got another hit, from what he believed was a better fish. We then went as far as we could in the creek, keeping in mind that with the tide going down, we should be carful not to get stuck.
We saw Mullets and bait, but no Barramundi.
On getting out of there, we tried again where we got the three hits before. Jim casting at the front of the boat, and me at the back. When I finally got a hit that stay connected.
I quickly realised that this fish would not beat any records, but I was still surprised by its energy.
Jim got the net ready, and my little fish made another small run, he really didn't like the look of the net. Or maybe my attempt at growing a beard…
But in the end, in the net it went, and I finally had my first Barramundi for 2014.

First Barramundi of the year.

Not a fish of gigantic proportions, but still enough to make me smile. But being an undersize model, I gently dropped it back in the water, for him to grow big and fat, and hopefully we will met again in the future.

This had been a very pleasant half a day trip, and got me my first fish of the year.
Thanks Jim for inviting me on your boat.

And yes, once again I didn't bring back any fish home, and my little one said to me in a sad voice: "Daddy, you never bring any fish home any more, for me to eat…"

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