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,

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