Friday, August 26, 2016

The Renegade.

Hi there,

Do you remember the 21st March 2011?
On that day, on this very blog, I introduced you to the prototype of a fishing lure made by Reidy's in Darwin...
At the time the lure was called The Big Judge, but that was not the definite name...
the lure was to be named the Renegade, and it finally hit the shops on this beautiful month of August 2016.

What did the prototype look like?
Like this:

The prototype.

This lure was a present that I received while visiting the Reidy's factory on the outskirts of Darwin.
I have never used it and kept it very preciously. 
But this week, I went to a shop, and bought my first Renegade as soon as I could.
And here it is:

The Reidy's Renegade.

I choose it in the kryptonite colour as it was the closest one to my favourite colour from the Reidy's range, the 008, which is not available yet for the Renegade.

Yes the prototype and the retail version of the lure are very similar.

Prototype and retail version of the Reidy's Renegade.

If the seems slightly different on the above image, it has more to do with the photograph and light than with reality. The prototype is at the top and the retail lure on the bottom of the pic.

The real difference come in the eyes, and the built of the lure.
For the eyes it is pretty obvious, but for the built? Well what I mean by that is that all the tow point and hook hangers are much beefier on the retail one than on the prototype.
Look by yourselves:

Eyes and tow points comparison.

As you can see once again the prototype is in the top part of the image while the retail one is in the lower part. And clearly, the tow point is much stronger on the retail version.
I don't know if it is because during the testing phases, the lure encountered bigger fish than planned? One can only ponder...
But I do know that with such a tow point, it should be able to bring back some pretty big ones.

For the hook hangers, judge by yourself:

Back hook hangers.

The retail version is on the left and the prototype on the right. You can easily see which one is stronger.
The Renegade is a big lure, which can be trolled slow or fast, to a depth of about four metres.

From March 2011 to August 2016 may seems a long time, but I believe that it took in fact longer in research and development to get the lure to shops. All the kudos to Reidy's for not rushing a product out of the factory doors, without making sure first that it was truly tested and ready.

Now I just hope that it will not take me as long to be able to swim and test mine. I can't wait to catch my first fish on it. When it come to play with a new lure, patience is not my stronger point...

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

Sunday, August 21, 2016

2016 Top End Barra Series Round 4.

Hi there,

Not long ago was the fourth round of the 2016 Top End Barra Series.
Here is the story of it.
  • It was at Corroboree Billabong.
  • Lots of crocodiles, few fishes.
  • All my "good" fish were caught with soft plastics.
  • It was truly a good weekend.

For this round I was fishing from Rossco's boat.
Thank you for inviting me on your boat for the weekend Rossco.
At 5:30 am his car and boat were in front of my home, and it was great to see him after so long.
It was still dark, and the road to the billabong was spent talking about fishing and catching up.

On the rod again.

It is only a short journey to Corroboree Billabong from Darwin, and we were soon able to launch the boat, at a near empty boat ramp.

Early morning launching.

Most of the participants in the fourth round of the 2016 Top End Barra Series had already launched, on the Friday evening, to spend a night between mates on the water, before the competition start.
The weather was typical of a dry season morning: Cold!

Cold morning on Corroboree Billabong.

It might have been cold, but there is some kind of magic to this place. The seemingly peaceful waters, full of big crocodiles... 
It is beautiful, and it keeps you on your toes at the same time.

Peaceful morning.

In fact it was so cold, that when we saw the first boat that was part of the competition, they were dressed for the cold. And remember that this is tropical Australia...

Fishing in the tropical winter.

The crew of the Liquid Diet Boat, was to give me a very nice present in the form of two fishing lures painted especially for me:

Two fishing lures painted Bleu Blanc Rouge.

I already had one lure in this colour that had been made by Dean B. the maker of the Barratastic Lures, and he had named the colour Pecheur.  I will soon do a post about all my lures in the Pecheur colour.
Rosso also gave me a beautiful Lee's Lures made of Timber at the same time. It will too be in a post on this very blog soon, watch this space!

With the sun slowly rising, the resident crocodiles started to make themselves visible. Trying to get a bit of warmth in their cold blood.

Salt Water crocodile warming up.

We had some intel telling us where in the previous week, a few nice Barramundi had been caught in full daylight, and we went to the spot.

Pandanus on the bank.

Yes this is the spot.
We did spot a few fish there, even got a few half baked hits, but nothing to write home about. Sometimes in fishing a day can makes all the difference.
Yet it was good to be there, and enjoy the relative peace of the place.

Water Lily flower floating away.

When I say relative peace of the place, it is of course because of the numerous crocodiles that were lining the spot. 
Yes, there was fish in the water, but the crocs knew it too, and were around for a feed.
In fact later on in the evening, we got chased from this very spot by a cranky big crocodile and had to move away.
But during the day, it was easier to keep an eye on them, and we started to cast weedless lures deep in the lilies.
I was using a weedless soft plastic lure in the Drop Bear colour, and had just flicked it as far and deep in the lilies as I could. I had let the lure drop to the floor of the billabong, and was bringing it back by little successive jumps very close to the bottom. When the line tensed, and the fish came straight to the surface: It was a Barramundi!
Lucky me, instead of trying to go further away in the deep water, it swam near the surface, and straight to me. Rossco was quick to put it in the net, and I had a fish on board!

First Barramundi of the weekend.

For a billabong fish, it wasn't too bad of a fish, coming in at 62cm (24.409449 inches).
Most of all, it was our first fish in the boat, and it showed us that everything was still possible.
It was early afternoon, we hadn't caught a fish in all the morning, but now we were talking.
Or saw we thought. 
Yes, it was hard fishing especially when you see where the first fish came from:

This is where we had to cast our lures.

After this, it was to be a no more Barramundi kind of day.
The sunset arrived and was as great as they can be on the billabongs, event in the middle of the dry season.

Sunset on Corroboree Billabong.

It was photo time:

Rossco, snapping the sunset.

From there, we tried a bit of night trolling, but to no great result, only a few little tap on the lures, with nothing staying connected. Some other participants in the round achieved great results by night trolling. A 92cm (36.220472 inches) Barramundi was caught, and it is a great billabong fish. 
But for Rossco and I, it was going to be a long time until the next Barramundi.
As darkness fell upon us, we caught up With Dean who was fishing with his son.
We rafted the two boats, had a bit to eat and drink, and talked of all the very important matters that fisherfolk  talk about when they catch up... I will let you imagine what it could be...
While talking I cold not help but flick a fizzer here and there, to try to catch a surface Barramundi in the dark of night. One very exciting for of fishing. The only fish having a go at my fizzer were Tarpon:

Night time Tarpon.

They were great fun, but not the targeted specie. One Barra did boof my lure, but must have missed by a few centimetres and didn't even inhale the lure, so not a chance in the world to be hooked.
After a little while, everybody on both boats was deep asleep.
Despite waking up a few times during the night, I could not hear any fish feeding activity near us, and went back to sleep each time, hoping for the sound of boofs.
Finally the morning arrived.

First light on the water.

It was beautiful but cold, and I stayed in my sleeping bag a bit longer.

Cold morning at Corroboree Billabong.

The only thing that could keep me warm in this cold morning, was to move.
What kind of movement can you do on a boat?
Well it is pretty simple, I got in on the action, and started to flick my lure. Doing the longest cast that I could, at the back of the lilies, trying to get warm in the raising sun.

When far away, deep in the cold water, a fish found my lure.
But this one had decided to fight dirty, and went straight for the bottom, trashing in the lilies underwater stems. After a bit of tussle, he was next to the boat. Yet still green and ready to fight some more, he wrapped the line around a few lilies, just a feet or two from us. This is when I truly believed that this fish was lost to me. It was at netting distance from the boat, but every times that Rossco tried to put the net under it, the lilies stems blocked the net, with the other fish moving to the opposite side.
The stems looked green and strong. 
Both Dean and his son had jumped into Rossco's boat to see what was happening from a better vantage point. 
Dean realised what was going on, and brought his long lips gripe to try to secure the fish.
But just then the combination of Rossco pushing on the stems with his net, and the line sawing in them, made them break, and the fish was in the net!
What a fight that had been!

The dirty fighter Barramundi.

at 67cm (26.377953 inches) it was going to be my best Barramundi of the weekend.
But not the last, and it had been caught on the same lure than the previous one too.
In the background of the photo, you can see from which terrain this Barramundi came from.
It was still early, and a fish so soon in the morning was a good sign for the day to come.
The four of us, quickly finished our breakfast, said goodby to people from the other boat and went our way.
It had been a very good night and morning, in great company.
It is nice to see people bringing their child with them for the weekend. That is what I would call real quality time, and it would for sure build in the kids some great memories for the rest of their life.

Dean & Son, going for another day of fishing on the billabong.

I say good on you to the parents who can bring their child for a weekend of camping in nature.

So this first fish brought our expectations to a new level of fishing envy.
Yet, it was nearly a fluke, as the next catch was going to take a long time to come to fruition.

Another of all the iconic fish that we have around Darwin is the Saratoga
This is a fresh water fish, and as such was part of the target fish for the weekend. It a beautiful fish, and I love to see them. I did caught one, but a very small one:

My little Saratoga.

Despite being on the smaller side of sizes, this fish totally destroyed my lure and I had to use another one after it.

It was again a hot day, the wind had started to blow, and made the fishing difficult.
We had to look for sheltered spot, where we hoped to find some fish.
Finally, less than one hour before it was time to get the lines out of the water, casting against Pandanus roots, I retrieved my lure, in a very steady way. Slow, but without any jig or jerking of the line, I was remembering how Brett alway tells me to stop jerking that lure! So I was trying to be a good student. And it worked, I got my last Barramundi of the day.
At first I called it for another Saratoga, due to the yellowish colour I saw when it hit the lure. Rossco was calling it for a Barramundi and me for a Saratoga.
And lucky me there was not to many snag around, as this fish was strong and kept taking line and making runs every time I had it to the boat.
Finally it was netted:

Last Barramundi of the weekend.

The last Barramundi of the weekend came at 62cm (24.409449 inches), just like the first one of the weekend.
Some people might say that I am easily amused, but yes I did find that funny.
After that we tried to see if I could get another fish in the last twenty minutes of the round, but it was not to be.
We then quietly made our way to the ramp, enjoying the evening light and profiting of the last moment of peace for the weekend, before going back to civilisation.
That is when we caught up with a boat of Tebsies.

Fellow Participants in the 2016 TEBS.

They too had found the fishing a bit hard over the weekend. But one of them had caught the second biggest Barramundi of the weekend at 91cm (35.826772 inches). So the smiles were still on their boat.

It had been a great weekend on the water, thanks Rossco, but it was getting dark and it was time to go home.

Evening light at the boat ramp.

Rossco had been in pain during most of the round, and had been unable to cast his lure as often as I did. Yet he allowed me very generously to fish all over the weekend, when most people would have just gone home to try to mend their pain. 

During this round, I used, eleven different hard body fishing lures, and 4 soft plastic ones.
My first two Barramundi had been caught on the same lure.
And when it was destroyed by a little Saratoga, I really missed it, and cursed myself for not having brought with me the other similar one that I had at home.

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

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Morning Fishing Middle Arm.

Hi there,

Last Monday was a public holiday, and what could we do on a public holiday?
Well, we spent the morning fishing in Middle Arm.
  • We fished in Middle Arm.
  • We caught many fish.
  • Some crabs too.
  • It was an epic day.
Brett had been looking on Google Maps to try to find some new spots to explore.
There was a mud flat in Middle Arm, that he was yet to fish, and asked me if I wanted to go with him on this little exploratory trip.
Of course I said yes.
We left rather early and arrived way too early to our destination. The water was still high in the mangrove. 

Morning light in the mangrove.

No matter how beautiful this was, we had too much water under the boat to catch any fish.
To kill a bit of time we sailed along the mangroves, enjoying the scenery. I did try to blind cast a popper here and there. And one Barramundi boofed it, got connected, dived and promptly got the lure snagged on a submerged taproot. The fish swam away, the lure floated back to the surface, alone...

By then, the tide had begun to go down, and we could start to see a few Barra on the flat.
Most of them spook before we were even ready to try to catch them.
But one, swimming parallel to the boat, going in the same direction, attracted our attention.
Brett told me to have a go at it. I flicked my lure, swam it past its nose, for not even the slightest reaction. I tried a second time and the same scenario unfolded.
Brett tried then to cast a fly near him. When the fly passed in front of him, he turned toward it. Followed for a little while, very slow, then just boofed it in a flash! And Brett got his first sight casted fish on a fly for the season.

First Barramundi on the fly of the dry season.

Ok, with one Barramundi on the board, we knew that we had come to the right spot.
It was a nice little specimen, and was released to fight another day.
The water high was not yet optimal for the pursuit of Barramundi. Yet, we could spot another delicious prey walking below us...

Mud crab on the spear.

Yes Mud Crabs of good size seemed to be in good numbers on this flat.
The yell of "Mud Crab, Give me the spear!" would resonate two more times:

Mud Crab number two.

Mud Crab number three.

After putting three of them in the esky, we were reassured that none of us would be hungry on this day. Our focus switched back to the more elusive Barramundi.
Brett had got one on the boat, I had lost one, most of the ones we saw, were too nervous and panicky for us to have any real chance to tempt them with our lures...
They would sometimes follow the lure, nearly to the boat, get very very close to the lure, and turn around and disappear in a dash.
When I finally got one to take my lure in earnest, and start jumping around.
It wasn't a monster, but I got excited, and managed to get it in the boat.

My first Barramundi of the day.

This one was slightly undersized, and was put back in his element, so he could grow a bit more, until next time.
We continued to move around on this rather large flat, were we saw a large number of ray and shark.
Some small, some bigs, I tried to take some photograph of them, but my pocket camera doesn't have a polariser filter, and they didn't come out as expected.
In fact they were so many rays, that we sometimes got confused by their wings flaps thinking it was the flash of a Barra. 
We stayed a while without catching anything, starting to wonder what was going on.
When I pointed to a silvery flash in the water saying: Barra, there!
And casted a bit in front of it.
Brett said that it was a stingray, as we then saw one just in the spot I had pointed to.
But just then with a sharp jolt my line pulled me back to attention, the rod had a serious bent in it, and the water splashed all over as a nice slabe of chrome erupted out of the water.
I was on!
And to a nice Barramundi.
It started to go right, then left, trying to get away. I got it near the boat, but it then made a good run away from us again. Brett asked me if I had forgotten to put any drag on my reel. This fish truly was able to take some good run, but I assured Brett that my drag was on.
Finally it was close to the boat, I was going to be able to get it in the boat.
And the lure flew pass my head at great speed... The Barra had spit it as he was just at my feet.
Looking at the lure I saw that the hook had bent. Yes, I had some drag on my reel, maybe even a bit too much of it in fact...
Hard lesson...

On the same spot Brett came up with a fish, and a good one too.
This one was going to be for the esky:

A fish for the table.

We now had an esky with three mud crabs and one good Barra. But I was yet to contribute to any of the bounty.
It started to sink upon us, that we might have found a nice little honey hole.
I got a lot of hit, but kept loosing my fish.
Brett on the other hand was having a ball of a time:

Brett's third fish of the day.

And ...

Brett's fourth Barramundi of the day.

It is not that like me he was losing some fish. But he still managed to get a good proportion of them in the boat.
I was starting to think that I would need to do some homework on how to properly hook a fish.
At least I got one that stayed connected to the lure, and was able to bring it to the boat:

My first legal Barramundi of the trip.

This one was of legal size, and I kept it for dinner. I was happy.
I loose some more, and Brett got another one in:

Happy as a man who catch all the fish.

A lot of Barramundi were swimming around a rather small patch of mud. It was really good fishing.
Even if I kept loosing them.
Still I got a good hookup, and this one seemed of a reasonable size.
It took me a bit longer to get it in the boat:

My best Barramundi of the day.

Still no giant fish, but a nice one that I decided to keep for my mother in law.
Because she is a good woman, and sometimes staying in the good books is as easy to bring back a fresh fish.
This one was going to be the last fish of the trip, it was time to go back.
But what a trip it had been!
Thank you Brett to invite me to explore this part of the harbour that you had never fished before. It was really worthwhile. 
This had been a great day.
Yes we did miss and lost a lot of fish...

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

Monday, August 1, 2016

I Haden't Fished In A Long Time.

Hi there,

Yes For multiple reasons I had been in the absolute impossibility to fish for a very long time.
Well, to be honest mostly because I went on vacation overseas...
But I am back, and more eager than ever.

               First time in a long time.
               We fished on the Elisabeth River.
               We got fish and crabs.

I was still jet lag and rather tired when Brett called offered me to go fishing on the Elizabeth River.
I immediately said Yes!
He asked if I didn't need a bit of time to be sure of my answer, so I thought about it for about one or two seconds, and said Yes! again...

Yes I was sure that I wanted to go fishing. So sure in fact that on the fishing day between the excitement and the jet lag, I woke up at 2:00am and could not find sleep again. 
So I drove my car to the boat ramp a bit earlier than planned, and started to wait sitting in the car, listening to the radio. 
After a little while, slowly but surely, I could feel myself falling asleep.
There was just one thing to do, get out of the car, and take some pic of my close environment to try to keep awake. 

That is about then that Brett spotted me. He had arrived a few minutes earlier, but was parked on the opposite side of the parking, we hadn't seen each other, and were both waiting for the other one, on the same parking...
This could have easily make us lost some precious fishing time, lucky that it didn't.

Once we had caught up we quickly launched, and made our way toward some little creek and mangrove to try to find our old friends Mr and Mrs Baramundi.

Mangrove lined creek.

This was a nice and quiet place, I started to attach a lure at the end of my line.
Brett told me: "Flick your lure just over there."
This I did, making my first cast of the day where I had been told to. Reeling in the lure, I was looking at the water, the trees the sky and everything in between, thinking that the holidays had been great, but that I had missed the noble art of angling, and more so, catching a fish.

This is when I felt a little bump like a dead weight on my line and started to think, oh no, I just arrived, first cast and I am already snagged, hopefully it is only in the mud...
Well it wasn't in the mud...
Because the water erupted, my line went out of my reel instead of coming back on it and a nice little piece of piscatorial chrome started to dance over the water. Doing numerous jumps and all. I was on! On my first cast of the day!
Oh yes I got excited, I wanted to laugh and be serious, I wanted to get this fish to the boat.
And in the boat it came.

First Barramundi after the holidays.

It wasn't a monster, but it was a sweet baby. It not only made me happy, but to me it proved if needed be, that Brett who will start to be a fishing guide next month, will be a very good guide. 
The fish was one cm too short, and was quickly put back in the water.
Our spirits started to fly high, we were in for a good day.
Well it did take a bit of time after that, before anything happens. 
But eventually, Brett started to scream Muddy! Mud Crab! Give me the spear!
It went a bit like: What where is the crab? Just give me the spear! Ok.
And voilas! Brett speared the beast and got really happy to have his dinner sorted out, with a nice big full Mud Crab.

Now, if only I could catch myself a fish big enough to eat...
Well it didn't take long after that, I got on my second Barra for the day, and once again simply by sending my lure swimming where Brett told me that it should be a good ambush spot for a Barramundi.

Second Barramundi of the day.

This was was of a better size, and as such it was not his lucky day, head first in the esky it went.

We both had our dinner in the cold box, from now on it would be just fun and games.
Well lucky that because the water started to be too low, the fish had disappeared and we couldn't find any more of them to play with us.
But the command for the spear came again and this time I knew what to do.
Even if I got a bit slow, and the crab nearly eluded capture, it was in the end harpooned and Brett had now not one but tow big crab for dinner.
Life was beautiful, we had been on the water for about three hours, the change of wind and the tide made us decide to call it a day. 

Low tide on the mangrove.

We headed for the bridge and the ramp:

The bridge over Elizabeth River.

This had been a great morning, and I was able to go home and nurse my jet lag with a good nap.
Thank you Brett for inviting me on your boat.

So yes, I had outfitted my skipper and this is a pretty rude thing to do. But to be honest, I got the fish, because he pointed them to me. Without this help I could very well have come back empty handed, like I have more than a few time in the past...

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