Saturday, October 25, 2014

2014 Top End Barra Series Final Round.

Hi there,

Today comes the tale of the sixth round of the 2014 Top End Barra Series, the final round for this year tournament.

  • It was hard fishing.
  • We did not too bad.
  • Brett broke a very nice fishing rod.
  • I lost a horse of a fish.
  • And I already can't wait for next year Series.
The round for 2014 took place at Salt Water Arm, and Leaders Creek was included in the boundaries.
So we decided to launch from Leaders Creek, to use their dry feet launch facilities, and also because we had elected to camp on their camping ground in the evening.
As we made our way along Leaders creek in the morning light, I could not help myself to think that I was pretty lucky to live in this peaceful part of the world.

Morning in Leaders Creek.

We did not wast any time in Leaders, and moved straight to the Narrow in Salt Water Arm.
There we started a troll, as the place is famous for big Barramundi. Keeping an eye on the sounder to see if we could spot some fish.
Brett saw some, and after trolling over them once or twice for not even a sniff, we decided to use the electric motor, to stay close to them, and to try to cast lures in their direction.
We had started fishing for about 25 minutes, when Brett did a cast in the opposite direction of the fish, aiming at the mangrove near the bank. He was fishing with his new custom made fishing rod, that he had won in a precedent round of the TEBS, and a new lure that he had never tested before...
As soon as his offering landed in the water, between some mangrove roots, the lure got engulfed by a very nice Barramundi.
Beauty! The fish was strong, but Brett fought it well, and after a few runs, I was able to net it, and the spirits went flying high.

Brett's first Barramundi of the weekend.

At 72cm (28.346457 inches), this was a great start to the round! As you can see, the tail on this fish was big and powerful. We were more than happy, we had just started, in a spot that none of us were very familiar with, and in no time we had managed to get a good fish in the boat.
It was released after a quick measurement, and the obligatory photographs.
We believed then and there that the weekend was going to be easy and full of good fish...
Oh how appearance can be misleading some times...

How? Well for a start, on the third cast after this fish, Brett brand new rod, broke.
Just like that, he was not doing anything particular, he was just casting. I was standing next to him, his lure was still in the air, when we heard the dreading sound of a graphite fishing rod breaking.
We have no ideas why it broke, but it certainly put a dent in our happiness.
To Brett because it was a brand new rod, that he was using for the first time, and had been fishing with for less than an hour. And to me because, well that is definitively not something that you wish to a good mate of yours, especially in a competition.
With the fact that Brett would now have just one fishing rod left for the rest of the round settling in, we decided to do a bit more trolling.
Which resulted only in a little Cod that took my lure in about fifteen feet of water.
Where it went back.
Then we noticed that someone had been even more unlucky than Brett.
A guy, steering his boat at night, had crashed in the mangrove, big time.

Crashed boat.

This was a guy we know, and we heard from other people that he was now in hospital.
A few days after the comp, we learned that yes the damage were of consequence, but that every body on this boat was still alive, and out of hospital.

As we could not find any more fish in the Narrow, we decided to move closer to the Wilshire, and entered a beautiful little creek.
It had Barramundi written all over it. Bait, eddies, snags, everything was there, except the Barramundi. Like if they had never heard of this beautiful little creek.
Until, we found in a bent of the creek, a great looking snag. 
We were still in the approach mode, silently going forward with the electric motor, when I could not resist anymore, and did the longest cast possible. To drop my lure, between the snag and the bank, and started to jig it back toward the boat through the snag. Wondering if I would hit the timber of the snags, or be lucky enough to finally find a fish in there. And bang I was on! Instead of diving for the snag, it went straight to the surface and jumped out of the water, showing us with no doubt, that he was a Barramundi!
I got so afraid that it would take me around the submerged trees, which it could have easily done, but Brett quick thinking (and he would have to think quick later on too...) put the boat in the best place, for me to extract this little Barramundi out of the snags, and he netted it in a perfect manner.
I was on the board too!

My first Barramundi of the weekend.

 At 62cm (24.409449 inches) it definitively made me happy, I now had a fish too.
It looked like it hadn't been in salt water for a long time, like if he had come from fresh water not too long ago, so I put it back in the drink.
We worked this snag a bit more, wondering if any more fish would be in there.
Brett had put a new soft plastic lure on his line, and we admired the swimming action of it.
I was even saying that if I was a Barra, I would be all over it. Well the Barramundi must have been thinking alike, as Brett hooked up to his second fish of the weekend.

Brett's second Barramundi of the weekend.

This fish measured 56cm (22.047244 inches). It was a point scorer, but sadly was going to be Brett's last Barramundi of the weekend.
Now sure that this great snag, in the middle of the creek bent was full of fish, we get back to it, and peppered it with our lures. 
And Brett got a new hookup...
But it was not a fish. Neither a snag, or even me (That nearly came up later). It was a crocodile!
A crocodile had grabbed his lure, and it didn't want to give it back. In the end, the line broke.
This was enough to make us think that if the croc had moved in to eat the fish, the fish would move out pretty quickly, and that is what we did too.
We simply moved to the next creek, closer to the Narrow. 
Where we found another nice looking pile of snags, with fish in it. But I lost two fish in a very short time. It was time to take some drastic measure, and I decided to stop using the safe option of casting weedless soft plastic in the snags. I was going to flick some hard body, three trebles and all, so if a fish found my lure, it would stick to it. Yet I didn't want to take the risk of loosing one of my favourite lures, so decided to go for a Gold Bomber.
Since I started to fish for Barramundi with lures, I was told countless times that the go to lure in Darwin, would be the Gold Bomber. Yet I was still to catch one on this lure, that I had in my tackle box for so long. I made a few cast toward the snag, but by now the fish in it must have been spooked, and I could not find any of them.
As we were moving out of the creek, I made a cast perpendicular to the mangrove, and twitched my lure back toward us. Hookup! 
I had a fish, and it looked like a little barra! I got it to the boat, it wasn't very big, and was visibly well hooked, so I just dragged it in the boat, by the leader.

My first Barramundi on a Gold Bomber.

At a length of 55cm (21.653543 inches) it was a just legal fish, and was going to be my smallest one of the weekend. It was a point scorer, small points, but points nonetheless, and more importantly, I had now after all these years finally caught a Barramundi on a Gold Bomber.
We then wanted to go and have a look at Chad's creek, but seeing the white caps on the water, we decided to go straight back to Leaders Creek, and it too us nearly one hour to get there in the swell.

Once in Leaders Creek, we saw Seano and Kieran and they told us that the fishing was not so hot.
But being there, we decided to troll a little bit...
This is when I did hook a really big fish. I think that I can say that this must have been the biggest Barramundi that I have ever hooked. The strike came violently, without warning, with sheer brute force.
But, I had the drag on my reel practically locked up. The fish took just one run that must have been between 50cm and a metre long, and made a full jump out of the water, perpendicular to the boat. As I was sitting backward, looking at the back of the boat, I saw it in its fullness. Most of the time, big fish just get their shoulders or half of their body out of the water. But this one came all out, in a beautiful straight jump, and my lure, was just simply ripped out of its mouth at that very moment, I think. I didn't saw the lure but I started to rewind like a maniac, the fish by its massive size, had startled me, and all I could say was: It's Big! 
But Brett, who is generally more cold blooded than I when it comes to fishing, asked me if I was still on? I replied that I didn't know, but was still reeling in like if there was no tomorrow. Brett looked at me and said: Stop reeling, you have lost it...
And he was right.
With a more subtle drag, I could have caught this fish, but I did not...
The memory of it is going to haunt me for a long time.
I missed this fish by my own fault, and hopefully will have learn a lesson about it...

Brett, got a good hit just after that, but didn't stay connected.
This made us troll for a bit longer, but we finally decided to go back to the ramp, and setup our camp.
On arriving at the ramp, I could not help but look at the crocodile trap, just a few feet away, from where the guy who operate the ramp was standing. Feet in the water, guiding the boat on their respective trailer.

The croc trap near the Leaders Creek's boat ramp.

There is absolutely no way you would have me standing in the water so close to a crocodile trap.
But it was this guy's job, and he didn't seemed to have any problem with that.
We setup camp, and started a little fire:

Camp fire, with my tent in the background.

Seano and Kieran, joined us, and we all had dinner together. Recounting the events of the days, and wondering how the other participants had done. We keep wondering if anyone had caught a really big Barramundi.
As it turned out, Seano and Kieran, were to catch the two biggest Barramundi of the round the following day. Kieran, would even catch the biggest Jewfish, at 119cm (46.850394).
Brett lent his battery charger to Seano, so he could still use his electric the following day.
It started to be dark, and every one was more or less exhausted by the day of fishing, so we decided to retire to our respective tents. 
I had one of the best sleep I had in a long time. There is something very soothing, to sleep in a tent, that is nothing else than just a mozzie dome, to look at the stars and listen to the night birds, as you fall asleep.
Here is a little two minutes film, I made with my phone in the morning, to give you an idea of what it looked like.

Morning sounds at the camp ground.

As the sun was rising on the last day of the 2014 Top End Barra Series, we made our way in Leaders Creek, as many other hopeful were doing.

Sun rise on Leaders Creek.

We didn't even stop to fish the mouth of Leaders Creek, (Seano and Kieran, latter on told us that when they saw us past, they just smiled, as they had already caught a 94cm (37.007874 inches) Barramundi, and were happy to see every body else going in other places. 
Us, we went straight where Brett got his first fish on the previous day, in the Narrow, in the hope of a bis repetita . With the boat overing near the snag that produced such a nice fish on the Saturday, we both stand next to each other, casting to it, waiting for the Barramundi to strike. And one of them, came, and near the surface had a go at Brett's lure. Brett tried to set the hook, but the lure flew out of the mouth of the fish, and came straight smacking me on the throat. It was strong enough for me to feel it hard hitting where you don't want a lure to hit you.
But lucky me, only the side of the lure that doesn't have a hook hit me, and the lure fell down in the water in front of us.
This could have been a rather tragic end to the day, but luck had been on our side, and we were able to laugh about it.
This was the only fish that we saw at this spot at the time. So we decided to try the snag in the other little creek that had given us two fish the day before.
We arrived there, and started to cast soft plastic in it, for not much action.
Brett turned around and said: I will switch on the sounder to see what it says about the spot.
And as soon as he finished to say it, I shouted: It says that there is some fish in it!
Yes you guessed right, I was on!
This fish, must have been half sleeping still, as it didn't gave a very strong fight. But I was still very happy when it got in the net.

My third Barramundi of the weekend.

This one went 60cm (23.622047 inches), once again, not a giant, but not a bad fish either, especially in regards of what other people in the competition were catching.
This made us think that we might be able to pull a few more fish from our lucky snag.
But it was not to be, and we didn't get anything else from there.

So we decided to go back to the mouth of Leaders Creek. The idea was that we might catch the turn of the tide there, and that the fish would be on the chew.

Leaders Creek's mouth.

As we arrived, we could see a big and very marked colour change in the water.
We soon bumped into Seano and Kieran, who told us that Seano had a 95cm Barramundi, and Kieran a 94cm Barramundi and the 119cm Jewfish.
These fish had been caught just where we were, in the middle of the colour change.
So we started trolling, I had put at the end of my line a Reidy's Big Ass B52s in the colour 008. This is one of my favourite colour in their range, and has served me well over the years. It is often good to use a lure that you trust, and this time was no different.
I got a smashing hit by a big mama Barramundi:

Jumping Barramundi at the end of my line.
Photograph © Kieran Gillespie.

Seano and Kieran who were just near by, started to photograph and film the action. Which might have been a bit on the comical side of things. Because as soon as I had the hit, Brett got tension on his line too! And we both found ourselves fighting a fish! But it downed upon us, that we might have been both fighting the same fish... And the question was then, but who hooked it? For which lure had she gone?
When she finally jumped between the two boats, both Seano and Kieran shouted: She's on the Yellow lure! And that lure was mine, Brett had a silver one. But this Barramundi had gone and wrapped herself in Brett's line and we had to both be carful at what we were doing with her.
She first went jumping at the front of our boat, then swam straight for Seano and Kieran's boat. I started to be afraid that she would go under their propeller, and cut the lines.
But she stopped a bit before that and went for the back of Brett's boat. So we moved at the back of the boat. As soon as we were there, she went at the front of the boat again. Yes, she gave us a good dance this one.
I could hear Seano and Kieran screaming some encouragement, and some joke too, like: Is your drag ok? Or, Make her jump! Make her jump! 
And during all the fight, as I was just trying to get her at netting distance, Brett was reeling his line too, steering the boat at getting the net ready. Talk about multitasking!
As we were back at the front of the boat, she was very close to the net, but managed to avoid it and take another run. Finally she came back and Brett told me to raise her head, which I did and Brett scooped her in the net.
As soon as I saw her in the net, relief and joy overcame me, I had a good fish!

My beautiful last Barramundi of the weekend.

She came in at 85cm (33.464567 inches). She was my best Barramundi of the weekend, and I was very happy to finally have a good fish that hopefully would give me some good scoring point in the round.
This was also so far my best fish on my Revo Off Shore, usually, I get all my good fish on my Curado, so this was a nice change too. You know the little things that made you happy, just like that.

We did troll a bit longer, but for not a single hit, so we decided to pull the curtain on a great weekend.
We went back to the ramp, packed the boat, and hit the road back toward civilisation.

On the road again.

This had been a frustrating and good weekend at the same time.
Frustrating, because it was sad to see Brett breaking a brand new rod.
And good, because it had two days of fishing involved, and that is something that I really like, and as a bonus all our fish this weekend were point scorer.
Thanks again to Brett for inviting me on his boat for the full series this year, I really had a good time.
So what did the 2014 Top End Barra Serie has offered me?
  • My first Barramundi over a Metre long.
  • My first Mangrove Jack.
  • My first night time Barramundi on a fizzer.
  • My first Barramundi on a walk the dog type of lure.
  • My first Barramundi on a Gold Bomber.
  • And six weekends away with the mates, plenty of laugh and good times.
Would I like to be part of it again next year?
Oh yes, no hesitation about that.

You might ask how did we fishing score wise Brett and I, for the last round, and in the overall scoreboard...
Well for the last round, Brett came in at number 20, and I at number 6.
But where it become really interesting is that at the overall score, we both finished in the top ten!
Brett ended in sixth position and I in fourth.
My big hope at the start of the 2014 series, was that we would both be in the top half, and maybe in the top ten... 
Well it happened, and I am really happy about that.
All I can say now is, bring on the 2015 Top End Barra Series!

And it will be a very long time before it all restart again...

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

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