This is the story of how I caught my biggest Barramundi to date.
- We fished at Shady Camp.
- We both got some big Barramundi.
- We got all the big ones trolling hard body lures.
- The good fish were caught on hard body fishing lures.
I saw on FaceBook that Craig was looking for a decky, to go fishing at Shady Camp with him on Friday and Saturday. Luck was with me from the start, my boss at work had just given me the Friday off. So I raised my hand and was picked.
I had never fished with Craig, but we had meet a few times before, so it was a new boat for me.
Going to Shady Camp, is always meet with a lot of anticipation, and a good dose of hopes and dreams.
This is the place where every year big Barramundi are caught, and early in the season a lot of people go there just for that.
And this year was no different, Seano with whom we caught up on the water, counted about 70 boats when we arrived at the mouth of Sampan Creek. That is a lot of lines and lures in the water.
But among all the crowd, we saw Dean catch a very nice 98 cm (38.582677 inch) Barramundi:
Dean and his Barramundi.
Dean had caught it on one of his own home made lure, kudos to him for making such good fishing lures as a hobby.
We then started to think that they were fish in the water...
Then we saw Peter's boat, and it didn't come as a surprise to see that they were on a fish too, as his boat always bring the bacon home.
The boat Barradiction in action.
But after a few hours of just about two hits, good ones but for no hook up, it started to be a bit too much for us. We got sick of playing dodgem cars with other boats, some of them all over the place, so we decided to head for Tommy Cut. Despite the reports coming from there; not being so good.
Once at Tommy Cut, we went straight in the creek, without stoping at the mouth, and we found fishing in there, Dave and a mate of his. They had caught many Barramundi in the day, and showed where and on what type of lures. Seeing people on the water who are ready to share the good oil, is alway a great advantage , and this was very kind of them.
Putting on lures that were about the same sizes, colours and deep of the ones they were using with success, we started trolling.
Not long in the troll I got a good hit, and the line started to peel, I was on!
but then the fish didn't seemed to offer a big fight and I was able to reel in faster than I expected...
We called it for a small Barra...
In fact we should have realised that it was maybe swimming with the current, towards the boat.
Because that is exactly what it did until it was under the boat, where it suddenly jumped. Craig then said, oh it is bigger than I thought, it is even probably a metery!
Now, I have only ever caught just one metery, and this was just what I needed to start to get a bit nervous. It went for the left, jumped and made a beeline for the right, the bank side of the creek, where all the snags were.
Seeing that, I thumbed the spool of my reel as much as I could, and gave a big whack in the rod, to try stopping it a few centimetres from the very visible snags.
It worked, it stopped it, it turned instantly, made a great jump, shaked her big head, and spat the lure...
Maybe, just maybe, I had been slightly too violent in my action...
And this is certainly why I lost this very beautiful fish...
But of course, I put it on my hooks being a bit blunt, and put another lure with brand new hooks on the end of my line.
We started trolling again, and this time Craig got a strong hit and the Barramundi jumped behind the boat. But sadly the fight was short and that was another fish swimming away after just a few jump.
Not discouraged, we persisted, and you know what they say: 'Those who put the time in get the rewards'. Well it worked.
My lure found a fish, and it was not a bad one.
When it started to jump, I said, it is smaller than the last one, but I don't want to loose this one too!
Craig put the boat in the middle of the creek so I wouldn't get in trouble with the snags, and got the net ready in no times. The fish did her thing, jumping and running when I thought that she was ready to be scooped up. But finally came close enough to be netted and I had my first Barramundi of the trip!
First Barramundi of the trip.
At 93cm (36.614173 inch), this was now my second biggest Barramundi caught.
But this was not going to be for very long...
To say that I was happy, would be a slight understatement. She was beautiful, chrome and fat, a very healthy Barramundi, maybe even a mama to be.
With the mood now on super sunny we continued to troll, and I got another fish.
But this one was from the start a smaller one.
I was just unsure of what kind of fish it was, It is only when it came close enough that we saw that it was a small Threadfin Salmon.
My little Treadfin Salmon.
At 60cm (23.622047 inch) it was no monster, but would still offer two good fillets, and Craig kept it.
By now we had boated two fish and had one in the esky, the sun was nearly down, we decided to catch up with Dave to setup camp on the river.
We rafted up and started to exchange tales of fishing, and discus other things. I did try to cast a surface lure a few time, but was starting to be seriously exhausted and as soon as the food was ready and eaten, started to fall asleep on my seat.
So when the time to actually sleep arrived, it didn't take me long to fall in Morpheus arm.
I had a rod at the ready, in case the Barramundi would start to boof around us in the middle of the night. Many time I woke up, and listen attentively but the only boof I heard was far away and I didn't used the rod during the night.
The morning came, as beautiful as they can be on a Northern Territory creek:
Sunrise on Tommy Cut creek.
Without loosing any time, we decided to have a troll, starting nearly where we slept.
I casted my lure, on the bank side of the creek, made sure that I had a convenient distance of line out, and put the rod in the rod holder. Picked up another rod to store it away, when the one in the rod holder started to bent like crazy, and my first thought was that I had hit a snag. Which would have made sense since we were trolling a bank full of mangrove. But when I picked up the rod, I could feel head shake in it. I tried to reel in a bit of line, and a nice feisty little Barramundi started to jump and splash in front of us.
I was on straight from the start!
This was was a quick fight, quick but sweet.
Coming in at 64 cm (25.19685 inch), it was perfect eating size, and ended up in the esky.
Such a good start made us think that the day was going to be a cracker.
And it was going to be...
Not long after, in the same stretch of the creek, Craig said in a tone just a bit louder than the conversation that we were having: Yep!
And I could immediately see the sudden curvature of his fishing rod and some commotion in the water at the back of the boat.
I reeled in my lure as fast as I could and Craig then asked me to get the boat in the middle of the creek...
I am not really use to steer a boat but I managed, nervously, to get if not in the middle, at least between the two side of the creek. Then the net came in ready, I didn't want to do anything wrong on his fish, which seemed to give a really good fight.
Jumping and pulling line as soon as it was close to the boat. It took a bit of time to get her in the net, and that is when I got surprised by her weight. She was a fat Barramundi that is for sure.
Craig first Barramundi of the trip.
At 91cm (35.826772 inch) it was a very respectable fish, and was put back in the river as soon as we could. She swam away strongly, and no monkeys were left on the boat.
Yes, this was a good day.
We resumed trolling as this was how we got all our fish so far. Yet passing all these beautiful snags was to hard to resist, and I had to put a weedless soft plastic on another rod, and flick it as we drove past all the submerged trees and roots.
At one stage, I saw this branch coming about a foot out of the water, and a submerged log about 40/50 cm away from it. In my mind, this was the perfect ambush post for any Barramundi with a bit of self-respect. So I did a cast, and for once, my lure landed where I wanted. Just after the branch, a few centimetres along the submerged log.
The log erupted out of the water as soon as the lure landed next to it, it was not a log.
It was a big crocodile that must have been around the 4 metres mark. And it was obviously not happy, I reeled in my lure as fast as can be, and the croc dived and disappear.
I may have aged a bit more than normal in these few seconds...
But I continued to cast, but from now, as far as I could from the boat.
And between a little snag and the bank, my line came tight.
A juvenile Barra started to trash about, and I brought it in.
once boat side, I just grabbed the leader and pulled it onboard for a quick photo before putting it back in the drink.
Smallest Barramundi of the trip.
This one was certainly undersize and was not even measured. Hopefully it will grow big enough before being recaptured.
Then Craig got another fish, which didn't need the net too, but nearly gave us a hard time.
By jumping and trashing around on the boat's floor, it stuck the hooks of the lure in Craig's trousers leg.
Yes pretty close to the skin, that would not have been good.
A human and a Barramundi on the same lure.
Once unhooked it was time for a quick pic, and back in the river.
Craig and another Barramundi.
This one was just one centimetre above the minimum legal size, but we still put it back in the water, so it can grow a bit more.
On the following troll, I caught one of the most dreaded fish in our waters: The Mighty Catfish...
This one was just a kitten...
Kitten of a catfish.
To ajout insult to the injury, I had not even caught it, I had foul hooked it, by the tail.
There is no question about it, it was released.
With time flying fast, we decided to go and troll the mouth of the creek, on the incoming tide, before slowly heading home.
This, was going to be a good move.
A few boat were there, but nothing compared to the number of boat seen on the day before at the mouth of Sampan creek.
We could see some fish on the sounder and were really hopping that one, or a few, of them would take a liking to our lures.
We saw Jason who was trolling too, but with not much success yet.
The weather was beautiful, and so far we had avoided the rain, so our spirits were still flying high.
The boat had just made a u-turn in the troll to make its way back toward the creek, when a fish decided that my lure looked like a tasty morsel.
It was a good hit and it jumped straight away, fully out of the water. I saw that it was not a bad fish, and hoped that I would not loose it.
Loose it I did not, and after a little battle, it was netted:
Another good Barramundi.
Exactly like the one I had caught on the day before, it came in at 93cm (36.614173 inch). I can't say if it was the same fish, but it still made me very happy. That was two good fish in two days, I liked that.
Once again it was released alive.
Catch and release is nearly a must for most fisherman in the Northern Territory when it comes to big Barramundi. Which might explain why we still have such a good fishery.
Jason came around and we joked about which lure I was using, with me telling him that I could sell him mine. For him to pull the exact same one out of his tackle box.
So we started a new troll...
First troll after my second 93 of the trip.
About two minute in the troll and a very sharp jerk in my rod, surprised me by its violence. I had never had such a hit before what was going on?
I had just sat down to chat with Craig and something was pulling on my line, with a determination rarely seen.
A big head came out of the water, just the head, not even the shoulder, just the mouth and eyes, the big mouth opened and shaked.
All I could say was: This one looks bigger...
Craig rewinded his lure quick smart, and got the net ready.
The fish was still far away from the boat and it came out again, not fully but more than on the first time, and Craig said: What a beauty! That is a metery mate!
And then I knew it was big.
Now I know that Barramundi can grow much bigger and I have friends who have caught bigger ones... But to me, this looked like the biggest I ever had a chance to land.
Now it was the time to not mess up with this one chance.
The fish was far away, and still taking line, her run seemed to never finish.
Luckily for me, there was a lot less boat than at Sampan, and people seemed very well behaved. Once it become clear that I was hooked on a nice fish, most boat left a lot of room around us so as not to cut my line, or hinder the fight.
I could not believe it, I had just caught what was my second personal best Barramundi, and now i was fighting what looked like it could be my biggest one ever. If only I could get it to the boat...
This was easier said than done.
I even started to panic a bit that I would get spooled, and asked Craig if he could follow her a bit with the outboard, as I was not gaining any line at all on her.
She was swimming towards the sea, and didn't seem to want to come back.
But she turned and came straight for the boat. Seeing that, I reeled in like an absolute maniac, trying to keep some tension in the line. Once near the boat she didn't stay there, and went for the bank and the shallow waters. This would be at my advantage, not hers.
She was now on the left hand side of the boat, between us and the bank, in very shallow water. I could see her back breaking the surface. She didn't like the tight spot she had put herself in, and dived under the boat. My rod was bending like it had never before, and I was sure that she would break the line under the boat in the best case scenario, or the rod at worst.
I kept saying: Oh she will break my rod, she will break my line, I will not be able to land this fish!
As she went under the boat and resurfaced on the other side, swimming for the middle of the channel, I had to jump on the casting desk, while my rod was half under the boat, and try to get the line past the bow of the boat, under the electric motor (Which was horizontal then), and be back in the action. Craig was cheering.
It was epic and scary, her weight on the line was not something that I was used to. She did a few more runs, shorter and shorter, but still very powerful. Finally came back on the left side of the boat, then back to the right side.
Craig had the net in the water, all the wile keeping and eye that we didn't end up stranded on the bank.
She saw the net and tried to go away from it, but not very far, and finally it is with relief that I could see her head approaching the opening of the net.
But once her head was inside of the net, she slightly slipped outside of it, and then I had a moment of incredulous and plain stupid fear: She is too big for the net!!!
But she was not, she slipped back in it, and the rubber net expanded and she fitted right in.
Craig had to grab the net opening with both hands to lift her up, the rubbery net expanded for almost a foot before the fish even started to get out of the water.
She was a very fat Barramundi, and she was now mine.
111cm of salt water Barramundi.
Once on the brag mat she measured at 111cm (43.700787 inch)!
This was definitively the biggest Barramundi that I had ever caught.
If you look at the smile across my face on this picture, I think that I slept and woke up the following day with the same smile.
I do think that I got very lucky to land her, as my line had gone straight in the gills, and I could not unhook her without cutting the line first, as it went from the mouth, throughout the gill.
But after a very quick measurement and a very quick photo, she was released.
We had to swim her a bit, but in the end, she kicked and bitted and swam happily away.
Swimming her before the release.
This had been to me, an incredible experience.
Between the sheer strength and force of the fish, and her weight, it had me exhausted and happy.
And now I want another one!
Even if I realise that it might take a very long time before I am able to get as lucky as I got on the afternoon of the 31st of January 2015.
Seeing that in just two troll runs, in twenty minutes apart we had got over two metres of Barramundi in the boat, we decided to try for more.
But as we looked on our side we saw what I would call a rather nice storm coming our way:
Tropical storm coming for us.
In no time it was upon us, and we had to resort to the rain coats:
Is that tropical fishing?
The rain fall upon us with no mercy, and we couldn't really see that far no more.
Rain in the creek.
With the intensity of the rain, we decided that we already had been blessed with two really good day of fishing, and that we should start to make our way back.
We then sailed towards Sampan creek, to arrive there under a beautiful and warm sun.
We then trolled the mouth of it long enough to dry our shirts and made our way in direction of Shady Barrage and the boat ramp.
On the way I was looking at the landscape and was thinking that we are very lucky to live in such a beautiful country.
At the boat ramp, we were met by more boats than we had expected. Yet it didn't take that long to get the boat on the trailer and to get rolling.
When we finally left the dirt road and arrived on sealed road, the mud had got the car and boat just a bit dirty:
Dirty car and boat.
Yet, I still believe that it was worth it. This was a great fishing trip, thank you Craig for inviting me on your boat.
Now, what does the lure that got me these big Barramundi look like?
Well, here it is, it is a Reidy's Big B52 in the 008 colour:
My lucky lure.
Yes, I am going to retire this lure.
As the Australian saying goes, 'it will go straight to the poolroom'!
After the success I have had with this very lure over the past few years, it has caught me most of my good sized Barramundi, it deserves to be preserved.
But that also mean, that I will now have to buy another one just like this one.
But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,