Sunday, October 5, 2014

2014 Top End Barra Series Round 5.

Hi there

It was the fifth round of the 2014 Top End Barra Series, and how did it go?
  • We did much better than last year in roughly the same location (Bynoe Harbour).
  • We got most of our fish on soft plastic lures.
  • I got my first Barramundi on a walk the dog type of lure.
  • Brett is continuing to climb the overall score board, at fast pace.
Yes it was in Bynoe Harbour a place where I got a donut last year... 
But this year was going to be very different, that it could be seen as night and day.
In fact to be honest it was one of my best fishing trip in a long time.
Yes, I had a bit of a cold, which made me cough and sweat more than I should have. I also have had some fishing trip where more fishes were caught, or bigger one...
But fishing in a place that you don't know well, and doing much better than the previous time that you fished it... It has a kind of buzz, that is difficult to beat. When you have the sensation of learning new tricks, it can make you very happy.

So I was fishing this round with Brett, who had kindly invited me o his boat again for this round.
And this was a great advantage for me, as he knows Bynoe Harbour very well.
We arrived at he boat ramp, early in the morning, and a few boats were already waiting in line.
It was good to catch up with a few mates, and some new faces. Exchanging some pre-fishing banters, and just being happy to be there.

Quickly we made our way up to one of Brett's spot, not wasting any precious fishing time.
We put on some soft plastic lures that Brett says are the most efficient fish catcher in Bynoe.
And oh right he was!
we caught about 20 Baramundi and a few other species of fish over the weekend, and only two of all this lot were caught on a different lure.
At the first spot, it was sight casting, a thing that I wanted to try for a long time.
It was great, just waiting for the Barra to arrive from the left, cast a lure in front of it, reel in and look at the fish going for it.
Definitively one of the  most exciting way of fish for Barramundi.
And this is how I got my first Barramundi of the weekend:

First Barramundi of the weekend.

At 54cm (21.259843 inches), it was no monster, but it was a point scorer, the monkey was off my back, and from now on it was all going to be fun. 
Brett got a few undersize fish and finally showed me what fishing really is, by catching a few good ones in a row.

A very serious Barramundi fisherman.

Catching Barramundi, one after the other.

In fact Brett got at least 4 Barramundi from this spot, from memory, I think that the 5 or 6 first Barra caught over the weekend were all sight casted.
This was very exciting, and I did get a bit too excited, when a nice fat 80cm+ (31.496063 inches) Barramundi came swimming on our left.
Brett said: this one is yours, get it.
So I casted toward it... But totally messed up my cast, and flicked the lure way to close to it, and spooked it.
This would have been a good fish, and safely was not the first one of the weekend that I would miss, just by being silly...
By example as we were moving away from this spot, my skipper showed me a Barramuni, hiding between the submerged branches of a tree. He told me to just drop my lure behind it and lift the fish out of there as soon as it would be hooked. Simple concept really.
But I wanted, against his advice, use a weedless lure...
It went like this: we approach as silently as we could. I drop my lure, behind the fish, just a bit on its side. The Barramundi, turned on itself and very aggressively gobbled the lure! I try to raise the fish out of the water and the branches; it simply open the mouth and let the lure fly out...
My bad, I should have used the same lure that had caught fish before during the day.

You would think that I would have learnt my lesson there and then?
Well, that is another story...

From there we moved into a little creek, were we got stuck in a water hole, by the receding tide.
But all was not lost, as we did catch a few fishes in there.
Brett was laughing his way through a high number of fish:

Happy like a man who just caught a Barramundi.

Despite totally crushing me in the catch rate, Brett was saying that it was the quieter he had ever seen the place. That this water hole should have plenty more of Barra, and some good Tarpon and Threadfin Salmon.
Guess what? 
Not long after talking about Tarpon, he got one, you know, just to show me that they were around:

The Tarpon.

I could not just stay there looking at him catching all the fish; so I hooked on a small Barramundi.

My second point scorer of the weekend.

That was enough to keep me in good spirit, and I kept trying. So Brett once again showed me how to do it:

With another Barramundi from the same spot.

I then got another from the same spot. Basically, there was a stick in the water, and we got all our fish when the lures were swimming past the stick. We could see on the sounder bigger fish, but could not tempt them to hit our lures...
It the water hole, when we arrived, we saw another boat.
They told us that they hooked a Barramundi, but that it took them on a snag and broke the line.
Yes, that must have been on the stick where we got our fishes, as with the falling tide, we saw the lure and were able to pick it up.
When we saw the guys who had lost the lure a bit later in the day, we gave it back to them, this is also what the Top End Barra Series is about.

As the tide was soon to come back we hoped that the big fish would get on the chew and start to bite.
Well, I did get a bit of a surprise:

Mud crab on the lure.

Lucky for him, it was too small to keep so i did put it back.
And lucky for me it was small too, because he tried to grab me with his nippers, and missed me by an hair. Mud crabs can be a bit dangerous when big, and they are also delicious to eat, this one would need to get bigger, and is safe from humans for now.
not long after I got a small Threadfin Salmon, and let it go, as it was like the crab before him, a bit too small to be kept.

This is the place where we waited for the tide to come back to take us out of the creek:

A little water hole full of Barramundi.

The place didn't look like much, but when the Barramundi are hungry, it must be a great place to be.
Coming out of there, sailing in very shallow water we came across a patch of water where the Barra were booting their heads off. 
Brett told me not to think, just cast in front of me, and try to catch some!
I was wondering if it we would catch anything in this dirty fast running water.
I had to reel in much faster than usual, just to keep the lure to be taken on the sand because of the current. And I was wondering how a Barramundi or any other fish, would be able to see my lure in this dark water...
Well it didn't take long, just a few cast, and I was hooked to what much have been my best fish of the weekend.It used the current to its advantage, and first swam toward the boat. Then came to the surface and made its first jump: a very nice Barramundi it was! Brett got the net, got ready to scoop it, but the fish seeing the net, took another run, and I had trouble to get it back to the boat.
When it was finally close enough, Brett got ready again, and instead of going down, the fish came up and jumped again, this time spitting the lure on the right while diving back on the left...
Brett did try to get it in the net, but alas, it was too late and the fish was lost.
Brett then quickly hooked on another one, but it was a small one, not a point scorer, and then, as suddenly as it had started, it ended, and the joint become lifeless. 
We ha had a chance, and we lost it, but it had been some really exciting fishing.
It was then time to go back to land, and that is what we did.
We wen to the Palm Sands for a dinner and a night in an air-conditioned room. No not the Sands Plam from Las Vegas, the little motel near Bynoe Harbour...
But the food was great and generous, and it was good after a full day on the water to sleep in air cone and have a shower.
And also talking to all the other participants in the Top End Barra Series who had made up camp at the same motel. Chatting with some of them, we started to think that with all the fish that Brett had caught during the first day, he might end up doing well on the scoreboard. And we were right about that.
So it is withe great optimism that we launched again the following morning.

Beautiful morning to go fishing.

It was a beautiful morning to go fishing, and every body seemed happy.

Trying to be the first on the good spot.

We did pass a few mates on our way to the morning fishing spot. They were going fast, and were going to go much slower in the afternoon...
You will understand...

We went straight where we had sight casted to fish the previous morning. But this time the water was dirty and we could not really see any fish coming through.
Yet a bit on the side of there, we could see a reef that was soon to be exposed, and some bait being harassed by predator.
With the aid of the electric motor, we moved toward the spot and started to flick our lures where the bait was very nervous.
Brett got a very good hit, but it didn't connect.
I got a hit, but the fish pulled hard to the bottom, not coming up. I started to wonder what it was?
It was a Mangrove Jack!

My second ever Mangrove Jack.

This was my second ever Mangrove Jack; the first one had be in the previous round of the Top End Barra series, in the Darwin Harbour.
I was very happy with that!
This one I kept for the esky, Mangrove Jack are delicious to eat.
To me a Mangrove Jack first thing in the morning, is definitively a good sign.
And yes, not long after that, just a few metres from where I had hooked the Mangrove Jack, I hooked on a fish that didn't wast any time to jump, and show us all the chrome it was made of.
It was going to be my biggest Barramundi of the weekend.

My best Barramundi of the weekend.

At only 60cm (23.622047 inches) it was still a rather small fish, but I was to learn latter on that in this round of the Top End Barra Series, it was still going to be a good fish. And it made me very happy.
But with the bites slowing down, and the tide doing the same thing, we decided to move toward another rock bare, in the hope of better fishing.
In doing so we realised that we were leaving not a minute too early, as we could see the sea floor under the boat, and nearly scrapped it a few times. At our destination, the fishing was still very slow, we saw Draco, who confirmed to us, that there was not many Barramundi, where we had just arrived.
We could see some young Queenfish harassing the bait around the boat. So I put a DUO lures, the Realis Pencil 110 that Brett had given me a few months ago, on my line and throw it among them.
That was definitively a winer and I was soon rewarded with a nice little Queenfish hooked on it.

Queenfish on the DUO Realis Pencil 110.

This was my first fish on a walk the dog type of lure, and I loved it!When you see your lure walking like a dog on the surface, and a school of fish zooming in on it, then one of them smashing the lure and you line starting to go tight and flying from your reel... What a feeling.

But as we were having all this fun, Brett noticed that some mates of ours, were still on the first rock bare that we had left earlier, when the tide was going down...
And it didn't look really good for them, they seemed to be stranded. So Brett made the call to go and try to rescue them.

The boys stuck on the dry flats.

We could not go too close to them, or we would have been stuck too.
The plan was to try to pull them out of there, before we get stuck ourselves.
So we needed to join the two boat with a rope. For that to happen, one of us had to wade for about 100 meters in knees high water... With my well documented fear of crocodiles, there is no way that I was going to do it. So one of the boys had to run from their boat to Brett's boat, get the rope and go back to his boat. 
The rope was attached between both boat and Brett tried to pull them out of their misery.

Trying to pull the stranded boat.

Well it didn't works as excepted, and we couldn't move their boat at all.
The outboard was starting to overheat, so we had to stop.
Brett asked them if they had enough water, to which they said yes, and we wished them a good day, waiting for the tide. As we made our way to deeper and safer water.

From there we moved to a different spot on the harbour, where we saw Cuddelscooper and his Dear Lady. They told us what everybody told us before. That the fishing was slow, and that they didn't had that much fish yet...
We had a chat, and fished along them for a little while, but for no results.
So we moved along.

And casting over some low tide reefs, I got a small Golden Snapper.

Small golden Snapper on the lure.

And we decided to go back where we were before. But just a few hundreds of meters on our way, and Brett slowed down the boat, and told me: Look at this eddy, it could be full of fish...
And full of fish it was. Some of our best fish for the weekend were caught in the following hour. From a seemingly barren little eddy, whiteout much of a snag or anything, apart a nice colour chafe in the water.
Some were small, but some were better, and Brett got the king share of them:

Brett with a nice chrome salt water Barramundi.

And another one.

In fact because we thought that the opportunity to catch some fish was going to be short, with the tide rising, we did not take pictures of all the fish, as to not waste any time. Only the better ones were photographed. And trust me, for me not to take a picture of each and every fish that came onboard, was difficult...

Selfie with a Barramundi.

I even just did a quick selfie of what was going to be my second best fish of the weekend, before putting it back in the water, because I didn't want to wast any precious time.
When he saw that, Brett asked me if I was all right or sick? Apparently it is well know, that I always want some good photo. We had a good laugh about that too.
And yes, the bite died down, and we had to find some better water if we wanted to catch some more.
By then, we both had our bag of five fish (But we only kept three fish, all the other had been returned to the water to grow bigger). And were in the pursuit of better fish to upgrade our score.
We went in a little creek, that become accessible once the tide started to rise.
And in there, I got my first ever Barramundi on a walk the dog lure:

My first Barramundi on the DUO Realis Pencil 110.

Was I happy? You bet that I was! I liked this lure before, but now I loved it! In the dirty water of the rising tide, the noise that t produce had permitted the Barramundi to zoom on it, and the strike was nothing short of spectacular. In fact the Barra did not boof the lure like they often do. It came and slashed it like if he was a pelagic fish attacking a bait ball. The struck was very aggressive. I was looking at the lure swimming on top of the water, when I saw this grey thing ram the lure from the right and disappear under water with it. I am on ! I screamed, and Brett immediately asked if it was a Barramundi? I don't know I replied, as I had just seen the struck, but had not been able to identify the fish, as it was too fast.
It didn't jump, stayed at the bottom and fought hard, when it finally came to the surface, seeing a bit of grey, I knew it wasn't a cod of some sort, but wasn't sure if it was a Salmon, a Queenfish or a Barramundi. Then it dived, but doing so, raised its tail, and I knew it was a Barramundi, and I didn't want to loose it.
Turned out that I was not going to loose it, as he had hooked itself on both trebles.
And yes it was a small upgrade for me.
And this was the last fish of the weekend.

We then made our way to the boat ramp, where a few boat had been doing the same at the same time... It was peak hour at the ramp.
But the mangrove was still beautiful, and I din't really mind the wait, as it was the occasion to catch up with a few mates.

Bynoe Harbour mangrove.

So how did we ended up Brett and I in this round?
Well Brett finished third and me in the ninth position. This mean that Brett is still continuing his climb on the overall scoreboard, and me, I am not sure yet. I will have to wait to see the full scoreboard to know about that.

Thank you Brett for inviting me on your boat once again.

In the car on the way back, I had a bit of time to reflect on what a great weekend it had been.
And on what the Top End Barra Series had provided me with so far for the 2014 edition.
  • It gave me my first Barramundi over 100cm (39.370079 inches).
  • It gave me my first night time Barramundi on a fizzer.
  • it gave me my first Mangrove Jack.
  • It gave me my first Barramundi on a walk the dog lure.
And plenty of good laugh and friendship. I have also learned again about fishing for Barramundi, in every rounds. 
So it is only fair to say that the first five round of this year Top End Barra Series has been great to me.
Just one more round, and then we will have to wait till next year for it to restart all over again.
This will be a long wait.

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

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