Monday, September 22, 2014

A Fat Little Barramundi.

Hi there,

I went fishing with Sarge, in the pursuit of some salt water Barramundi; and...

  • We didn't get many fish.
  • My biggest one was rather short.
  • But it was fat, and that is a good sign for the year to come.
So Sarge and I had decided to go in the direction of Salt Water Arm, with the high ambition of catching ourselves a good feed of fresh Barramundi.
Oh how life can be deceptive some time.
We launched rather late in the morning, thinking that the low tide would be at around midday.
And that by then the fish would be on the chew.
That was a great plan; but it didn't turn out as we had expected.
The fish didn't want to play, or maybe were just too clever for us.

In fact Sarge got the first fish of the day, flicking his lure, and reeling it back, when he got a solid hit, but didn't stay connected. Yet before he got his lure back he got another hit!
but a very small one this time, and yes, it stayed hooked on.
The name of this fish started by Barra too, but it had the wrong ending...
It was a small fish, with big teeth:

The baby Barracuda.

It was a very cute little Barracuda, just a baby really.
And in the water it went back.

After that, it was a long time, of flicking lures, trolling lures and hoping that a fish would find one of our lures attractive... But no, we were like the pariah of the fishing world. The fish avoided our lures, with determination and constance; it started to become a tad frustrating.
So we moved toward a bank that we had not fished yet.
With the idea of changing tactic and to start flicking weedless soft plastic right in the snag.
Two things happened: I got the confirmation that weedless lures still get snagged; I lost a few.
And, we finally got hit by some fish!
In fact only on my third or fourth cast, I hooked and landed my first little Barramundi of the day!

Barramundi on weedless soft plastic.

It was only a very small Barramundi, but after all this flicking for nothing, it sure made me happy!
It was way too small to keep, and was promptly returned to his element: some brownish salt water.
With a renewed enthusiast, I flicked again, hoping for his big brother, or maybe even his big sister...
When not long after that, I was hooked to a fish again!
Got it in the boat, but it was about the same size. Rather than asking Sarge to take a photo of me holding it, I tried a selfie. So Sarge would not loose any precious fishing time. Especially now that we seemed to have found the right spot.
But I am not too good at selfie with a little live fish in my hand, and the pic doesn't really deserves to be shown... 
Then I lost my lure to a snag.
So I sat at the back of the boat to put a new leader on my line, and attach a new lure at the end of it.
Being focused on the task at hand, I forgot about Sarge casting his lure away to any snag that we passed. I forgot till I heard him say something a bit like: "Yes! Oh No! Expletive, expletive, expletive"...
He had just hooked and then lost a Barramundi that was a good 70cm...
He said that he saw it coming, and lazily boof his lure near the surface, turn around, and fight for a few second before spitting the lure.
That would definitively have been the fish of the day, but it was not to be.

So we continued to move along the same little bank, when I made a cast just between two submerged trees. But it was not a good cast. In fact I wanted to cast just next to one of the tree, and had cast spot on in the middle of the two trees... I silently cursed myself, but still tried to give a bit of action to the lure, as I was winding it back. When it was hit with a bang! A sudden hit, a big tail slapped the surface and dived down. I was thinking Barramundi, because I had seen the tail, but it was going down, giving head shake. Could it be a cod or a catfish?
It was definitively a bigger fish than the ones I had before.
Then it came to the surface, head and shoulder out of the water shaking it's big mouth: it was a Barramundi! And I called it for a good fish, he was strong and fast.
Sarge scooped it in the net, and I was impressed by how fat it was. Before realising that it wasn't that long after all.

My best Barramundi of the day.

It measured a rather small 59cm (23.228346 inches), but was fat and had some good shoulder. Which might explain why he had fought above it's size. This was my first, (and was going to be the only) of legal size for the day, so in the esky it went.
I was happy, it was no giant; but I had a feed for my little family.

I am no Barramundi expert, still I do hope that a short but fat Barramundi is a sign of a good year in front of us. Last year the Barramundi were not that fat early in the season.
Or at least, not the ones I caught.

Not long after that, we had to call it a day.
And a great day it had been, thank you Sarge for inviting me on your boat.

Yes, I know, one lonely fish to bring back home might not look like much to some of you...

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

Sunday, September 7, 2014

2014 Top End Barra Series Round 4.

Hi there,

Here come the tale of the fourth round of the 2014 Top End Barra Series, taking place on the Darwin harbour.
  • Brett my skipper won the round!
  • We got all our fish on soft plastic.
  • We had a great time.
  • And a new fish species for me!
So lets start at the beginning.
Darwin Harbour always promised to be an interesting round.
I won the round three year ago, but hadn't done very good in it in the past two years.
Brett had fished the harbour a bit in the past few month, and knew where the fish would be...
This sounded good to me, it was was going to be...

Brett picked me up, not too early, and that was nice to have a short sleep in before going fishing for once. I must be getting old...
On the harbour, the water looked like glass:

Water like glass on Darwin harbour.

Yes, this photo was made, from a boat moving at full speed. And it shows how beautiful the water and weather were.
We were soon on our first spot, and trying to sight cast to Barramundi swimming in the shallow mud flat. The only problem, was that we usually spotted the fish after they had spotted us, and by then it was way too late to catch them.
We did see some shadows swimming on the front left of the boat. Both our lures flew at the same time, mine didn't bring back the beacon, but Brett was on!

Brett on the first fish of the weekend.

This was  good fight for the first fish of the weekend, but it wasn't a Barramundi...
It was a mother in law fish...
By this point I was still fishing with my own lures, which was an error...
Brett was starting to get some hit, and he landed the first Barra for the round:

First Barramundi for the round.

Brett, was already doing good, and telling me to use the same lure than he was.
But being myself, I could not help to want to try some of my shiny lures... And what a mistake it was. I did have a few little bump, half hearted hits on my lures, but nothing serious, nothing to call home for. While Brett was reeling them in.
Brett had already got three Barramundi, a Mother In Law fish, a catfish and a little rock cod, I was still fish less...
Drastic measures were needed, and drastic measure were taken, I finally took my skipper's advice, and started to use one of his lure.
Guess what?
I immediately hooked a fish!
Alas, not of the right species...

Stargazer on the line.

Yes, it was  a small Stargazer, and as beautiful these little fish are, it was not the target of the day. Or of any day in fact, and it was promptly returned to the water, to feed hopefully on a better prey for him than another fisherman's lure.

Brett on the other hand, had no problem to find the Barra, and after two smallish ones, finally struck gold, and got a nice one:

Brett and the biggest Barramundi of the weekend.

At 80cm (31.496063 inches) this was going to be the biggest Barramundi caught over the weekend, by any of the competitors. This was a great point scorer, and catapulted Brett on the first step of the podium.  This big fish, was released free nice and healthy, ready to fight another day.
Barra were boofing in the shallow around us, and it was starting to get really exciting.
So Brett did exactly what any good fisherman would have done in similar conditions: he caught another Barra! But this one came with a surprise:

Barramundi with nipped tail.

The tail of this beautiful salt water Barramundi, had just been nipped by a shark.
No doubt about it, it was not its lucky day, as he ended in the esky, no more torment.
Barramundi were the fish to catch, but a good fisherman's basket always contains more than one offering, Brett also caught a beautiful crocker and a great harbour Goldie:

Brett and his Golden Snapper.

Very kindly he offered me to keep these two fishes, which I accepted, as so far, my own basket looked pretty sad and empty. The Goldie was given to my mother in law, so I would stays in the good books. And the rest, was part of a very nice meal at home.

It was nearly time to go home, as we had decided to not spend the night in the boat, and I was still without any Barramundi to my name. I was starting to think that I had missed the feeding time, and that I would have to do better the following day, if I didn't want to end on a donut.
Brett said, lets try a last spot before we call it a day, and drove the boat to another rocky beach.
Shallow dirty waters, rock and oyster all around, this looked like a good spot for a Barramundi to ambush preys, and maybe find my lure...
After a few cast all around the boat, I did the longest one that I could, in direction of the beach. The lure fell in a few centimetre of water, and raising my fishing rod high I quickly reeled in the first few meters as to not get stuck on the shallow rocks. Then I slowed down to normal speed, wondering in how shallow the Barramundi would be hunting. I was quickly informed, that they don't need much at all. The fish had taken the lure, and this time it seemed like it was properly hooked, and it jumped and showed me that it was indeed a Barramundi. A nice little harbour Barramundi, not a giant, but a feisty little point scorer. Which if I was able to get it to the net, would get me on the board, and take the monkey off my back. To say that I really wanted to get this fish in the boat would have been an understatement. I didn't want this fish, I needed it!
And Brett did a very good job at netting it first try, and I knew I could now relax.

My first Barramundi of the weekend.

As I said, no monster, but still a very sweet little fish.
And as it often happen, a second fish followed the first one in no time, the drought had been broken.

My biggest Barramundi for the weekend.

At 63cm (24.80315 inches) it was not huge, but was going to prove itself my biggest one for the weekend, and not a bad one in the competition.

By now, it was the end of the first day, and it was time to go back to the boat ramp, and head home for a rest.
Little talk and chitchat with other competitors at the ramp, instructed me that Brett had indeed done very well on the first day, and would certainly be in the top ten, and that if I could continue to do the same on the second day, I might be in the top twenty. This was good news.

On the morning of the second day, it was nearly the same start, but a bit later.
Once again the water was absolutely flat and glass looking.

Brett taking pictures of the paparazzi.

It was so flat, that I decided to take some more photographs of the harbour. Brett laughed and said that I was like a paparazzi, always taking pictures of everything.

Full throttle toward spot X.

The advantage of a flat sea, is that we can go full speed on to our fishing spot.
Less time travelling, and more time fishing.

It started pretty much as the day before, in the sense, that I did try to fish with my own lures first...
But this time, it was short lived, and I quickly put on the lure that Brett had lent me on the previous day.
And second cast...
I got my first ever Mangrove Jack!
Just a baby one, but still it made my day. If that was the only fish I had caught over the entire weekend, I would still have been very happy.
I have been in Darwin for many years, and was yet to catch one. All my friends were catching them, but not me .
I was a very happy man there and then:

My first ever Mangrove Jack.

At 33cm (12.992126 inches) it was rather small, and I let it go, despite them being very good on the plate. It had made me happy enough and deserved to live an grow, to hopefully become a happy big daddy Mangrove Jack.

After this very happy encounter with baby Jack, it took me only two cast to get another Barramundi!
Yes, on the second cast, I was on again, and when it jumped, clear of the water, shaking its head like a mad one, we saw that this time it was a Barramundi.
Brett told me to raise my rod, that it was very shallow and full of rocks, so raise my rod I did.
And the fish was in the net, quick smart, still very green.

My third Barramundi for the weekend.

Two fish in three cast, I was happy, and started to take a serious liking in Brett's fishing lures.
So much in fact that I decided on the spot, that they were going to be my next purchase.

The fishing slowed down a little bit, so we zoomed to another spot.
Where history repeated itself once again.
First cast nothing happen.
Second cast and I am on!
I saw my lure coming out from a colour change, then a Barra came rushing behind hit, and boofed it before trying to swam back in the colour change. Realising it was hooked, so close to the boat, it went ballistic and jumped around, swam to the other side of the boat. Where Brett was waiting for it with the net, and scooped it, and deposited it on the embarkation's floor.
As soon as he had dropped the net, Brett started to cast again, saying that they must have been feeding.
And before I got my lure out of the mouth of my Barramundi, Brett's saying that he is on too!
So I just got the Barra out of the net, lure still in mouth and got ready to scoop the second Barramundi. Hooked just a few minutes apart of each other.
This was not a double hook-up, but it was as close as it can be of one.
Once Brett's fish was in the net, we quickly got the lures out of their mouth, and put both of them back in the net, thinking that they needed a swim, before we could photograph them.

Brett with the two Barramundi.

My last Barramundi of the weekend.

Brett had caught the bigger one, and me the smaller one.
This was the last two Barramundi we would catch for the weekend, and that was enough to make us happy.
We didn't even get another sniff at this post after the two fish in rapid succession.
So we went somewhere else.
Where Brett got a rat Barra, and a little blue salmon, which gave him a bit of a rubble.
At one stage Brett was standing on one side of the boat, the fish went under the boat and jumped on the other side. With the line going under the boat from one side to the other.
Finally it was subdued, brought to the boat and released.

Brett with the little Blue Salmon.

But not catching any more fish, with the wind starting to rise, and some good fish already caught, we decided that it was time to head back.

Not very far from the ramp, we saw someone who had run out of petrol, and we towed him back towards the ramp.

Towing a boat on the water.

This had been a great weekend, with as usual plenty of good laughs. And a few good fish as a bonus.
The Top End Barra Series once again had delivered a first for me: my first ever Mangrove Jack.

A big thank you to Brett for inviting me on his boat again, this is much appreciated.

So how did we go on the scoreboard?
Well Brett finished first for the round!
Which put him in the tenth spot at the overall scoreboard, with two rounds to go, he can still progress towards the top.
Me, I ended up 14 for the round, which sent me back to the fifth position in the overall tournament results. So now I have to try to get lucky in the last two rounds for 2014, to stay in the top pack.
The only problem, is that we are now at a stage where most competitors start to eye the finish line, and to act more serious.
Perfect time for me to fall back lower in the ranking...

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