Thursday, March 30, 2017

2017 Top End Barra Series Round 1

Hi there,

Last weekend was the first round of the 2017 Top End Barra Series.
For the ones amongst you who don't know yet, the Top End Barra Series is a very social and friendly Barramundi fishing tournament.
Made of six rounds over the year, in different locations at different times of the year.
Each round last for a full weekend.
The competition is now in its seventh season.

Once the last round of the year is done and dusted, most of the anglers who fish the Top End Barra Series, can't wait for the next year first round and all the thing to restart again.
And this was the case once again, with this year what a lot of people expected to be a much better fishing than the last few years, as we finally have the first good wet season since 2011.

Like for the last few years, the destination of the first round was Shady Camp.
A place known for its potentially very big Barramundi. This is where everyone goes hoping to catch the much sought after Barramundi over the meter in length.

Now as some of you might remember, I do not have a boat.
So for this round, I was to be fishing with Jason on the first day, and as he was going to leave in the afternoon of Saturday, I was going to jump into Rossco's boat for the reminder of the round.

Jason, picked me up at 4:00am, I had been up since 1:45am, unable to sleep du to the excitement of going fishing for the full weekend.
Yes I was going to be really really tired on Saturday night...
But it was worth it!
We had planed to take some ice and refill the petrol at the last station service on the road...
Well you know that thing that they say that sound a bit like "Don't wait until the last minute to do the things you got to do"... That was a bit of a case of just that...
The last service station was closed, and we had to go back to fill up.

Still we arrived at the Shady camp barrage at sunrise:

Launching at Shady Camp Barrage.

For me launching there has always been a bit scary, du to the large quantity of very big crocodile that inhabit the area. So I do prefer when there is already a bit of light than in total darkness.

From there we zoomed without stoping to the mouth of Sampan River to troll.
To our surprise, not that many boats were trolling the mouth.
Just a few in fact.
Once we started to troll it, we quickly understand why...
It was a bit choppy.

Chop at the mouth of Sampan.

We had made two passes and decided to troll a bit further, about two kilometres out.
On the turn, I changed lure and put a Classic Barra 160 +10 in the Green Dazzler colour on the end of my line.
A lure that had never yet produced for me at Shady Camp.
And this is where I would love to tell you that, I spent a few seconds to read the sea and the waves, Made the perfect cast, of 32, 7 metres in length, so my lure would drop just in the dip of a wave.
I waited for the sun reflection to flash on my lures, and gently twitched it in front of a nice Barramundi that I had spotted just there, who eagerly wolfed it down...
But this is not how it happened...
With this lure that I had received as a present from my friend Peter, I made the biggest cast that I could as far away from the boat as I could, and it was not far enough. So still in free spool I let the line run and looked at my lure which seemed to be further and further away from me.
When I started to think that it should be enough, I clicked the reel's drag on, and in less than a wink, just as the lure made its first move, a fish took it in earnest!
I first thought that it must have been a big Salmon, as I saw the splash but hadn't been able to put an ID on the fish. The first run was long, and the fish heavy, I could not stop it. Then it jumped, it was a Barramundi!
Just right then, I felt the pressure rise a few notches. Jason had practically finished to reeled in his lure, and was looking at what I was doing.
I told him that this fish was heavy and taking all my line, that I feared that it would spool me.
Jason put the boat in reverse, and this is how I first gained a bit of line.
When we finally saw the fish, Jason started to say that it might be in the 80s. When it was closer, I could then see the lure on the outside of the Barramundi mouth and started to stress that it was going to be able to escape my capture.
And then Jason said, "oh he might be a good 90s"...
Finally it arrived close enough to be scooped in the net, and on the deck.
The monkey was off my back and I may have danced a little bit on the boat.
It was a nice fish:

My First Barramundi of the weekend.

Coming in at 97cm (38.188976 Inches), caught before 9:00am, this was going to be my third biggest Barramundi ever.
Oh yes I was happy and I still smile thinking about it.
She did take a bit of time to be revived and to swim away strong, but in the end thanks to the perseverance of Jason, she was fit and kicked away.
We deducted from this catch than instead of trolling fast as most people do at Shady, we would try to troll slow:

With a storm in the back.

Well this didn't work very well and just confirmed that Lady Luck had just been very kind to me when she gave me that fish.
So it was time to change tactics, and we moved back into the river.
There we started to flick soft plastic lures to the snags.
I got a hit, Jason got a hit. We could see prawns being stressed and chased by some predators.
we casted some more and Jason line went tense, he was on!
It was a nice fat little Barramundi:

Jason's Barramundi.

At 57cm (22.440945 Inches) It was no monster in length, but it did make up for it in weight as it was as fat as a happy piglet. So it might not have be bacon, but in the esky it went nonetheless, as it was perfect size to be eaten.
By then, it was time for Jason to go back toward the city.
We looked for Rossco and found him, his boat rafted up with another one.
We went next to them and I passed on my gear from one boat to another. Said goodbye and thank you to Jason, and jumped in Rossco's boat.
And just then the sky opened up and the rain fell upon the hearth and the rivers...

Rain over Sampan Creek.

It did fall hard, but not for very long, and once it stopped, we decided to troll our lures around the joint.
Which resulted in a very nice little Threadfine Salmon for me:

Little Salmon.

This one was also perfect plate size and as Rossco like his Threadfine, I gave it to him.

By then it started to be a bit late, and we had made plans with Peter and Rob to catch up in Tommycut, so we headed that way, in the sunset...

Stormy sunset.

We got lucky enough to not get rained on over the trip there. But we still ended up drenched, because of the wind and the waves:

Rossco steering his boat.

Once there we quickly found Peter and Rob, and rafted up the two boats together, in a nice and calm little spot. We had dinner and some good laughs. But once the night had fallen, I started to feel the the weight of a long day on my shoulders, and quickly crashed to catch as many Z as I could.

Night time over Tommy Cut.

As the morning arrived we were greeted by a rainbow and a drizzle:

Cloudy morning and rainbow over Tommycut.

A very quick breakfast and we were fishing again.
After a short troll run, Rossco said that we were now in front of a little feeder creek where one of his sons had caught some Barramundi in the past.
So we started to flick some lure in there.
Looking at the bait that we could see swimming around, I decided to change my lure, and to downsize, opting for a Junior B52 from Reidy's in gold and orange.
It took just a few cast and I was on to a feisty little barra.
When we saw it we both hoped that it would be a point scorer, but said that it wasn't sure...
Well it was 50cm (19.685039 Inches) on the dot.
So too small to keep, but just a point scorer:

Little Barramundi and Chupa Chups.

Yes, even if it was on the smallish side, I was still very happy to have a fish in my hands, for a quick photo and a release.
Noticing the quick success I got with the Junior B52, Rossco didn't waste anytime changing his lure.
He went for a Junior B52 too, but his was in the gold and black colours.
Well with that he nearly immediately hooked on a Barramundi.
But it was not exactly the mother of all Barramundi, it was rather the cute little brother, and little is the keyword there...

Reeling in a cute little Barra.

This one was too small to be a point scorer, but it definitively offered a great photo opportunity:

Baby Barramundi.

We had a good laugh about it thinking that if anyone saw us taking a picture like that they would have thought that we were crazy. Sometimes you don't need much to laugh.
The tide was falling and we still had regular hits.
This is about then that we saw Seano and Gavin passing by, and they stopped for a little chat.
They told us that like ourselves, they did find the fishing hard. Seeing fish on the sounder, fish that didn't what to eat anything. And on top of that, Seano had a few battery trouble on his boat.

As they left we restarted to cast  our lures and in no times, Rossco was on!
This time the fish seemed a bit bigger and gave an honest fight.
It was a better fish:

Rossco's last Barramundi for the weekend.

Coming in at 62cm (24.409449 Inches) it was going to be a good point scorer for Rossco. And a delicious fillet for me, as Rossco kindly shared the bounty with me. Once again, I was going to feed my family a fish caught by someone else.
Because the only fish that I caught after that was a small Catfish, which of course I let go.

We then made our way back to the mouth of Tommycut, trolled around for a little while, I did get a very strong hit, but it didn't stay connected.
We took the opportunity of a break in the wind to go back to Sampan.
There is was a bit of fishing again, but with not much success.
So we made our way back to the ramp, asking along the way to a few people if they were going back toward Darwin and could give me a lift, as it would have allowed Rossco to stay one more day to fish.
Alas, no one was going back so Rossco could not stay for the following day and he drove me back to the city.

The road back towards civilisation.

What a weekend it had been!
First round of the 2017 TEBS, as it is known by many.
I had fished from two different boats, thank you Jason and Rossco for offering me the chance to fish for a full weekend.
I had caught my third biggest Barramundi so far.
And I had a very good time in very good company.
When is the next round???

And yes, this is where it hurts, the next round is in about two months...
Two long months before being again in the ambiance of the Top End Barra Series, and a full weekend of fishing... 
This will be a long wait.

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

First Barramundi Of The Year.

Hi there,

Yes, I finally got my first Barramundi for the year.

  • We fished on the Adelaide river.
  • We got all our fish on soft plastic lures.
  • We got all our fish on the cast.
Jason had asked me if I wanted to go for a bit of Barramundi fishing on the Adelaide river.
Of course I said yes!
It is still early in the season, a bit too early in fact, but who could resist a fishing trip, instead of staying home doing some cleaning and other important stuff?

So we were on the road very early, and it was still dark by the time we launched the boat:

Launching in the dark.

But as opposed to all the other trips that I had done on the Adelaide river, this time we had decided to go down river, instead of upstream. This to me was a first, and I was excited to go to discover some new territories.
We stopped as the day had started, to a little creek and started to flick our lures across the little stream flowing in the river. We were using large hard body lures, and didn't register any hits, but who could hear and sometimes see little boof here and there around us.
One fish was rather constant on our left.
We casted many time in it's direction but couldn't get anything to have a go at our lures.
I even tried a fizzer, in the hope that it would provoke a strike.
Just as we decided to drift past a bit lower, we changed lures and both of us had now soft plastic lures on our lines.
I made my first cast with it towards the spot where the little Barramundi had been repeatedly boofing.
That was not the best cast in the world, and my lure ended in the weed bordering the water. I gave a sharp jerk on the line to get it off the weed, the lure dropped in the water, I gave one turn of the handle, and said: Oh! I just got a hit!
But it wasn't just a hit I was on! in fact the fish had then been swimming parallel to the boat and it did take me a few seconds to realise that I was on.
The fight wasn't very long, as the fish was no monster, and once at the boat, I just grabbed the leader line by hand, and pulled the fish in the boat. I had just boated my first Barramundi of the year!

First little Barramundi of the year.

This little run off Barramundi, made me very happy, it is alway nice to catch the first one of the year.
And lets be honest, this happen only once a year...
I had caught it on the first cast of the day with a soft plastic, surely this was going to be the lure of the day ... Well yes and no... Yes, because it caught me my best fish of the day, but no, because that was also going to be my last Barramundi of the day, for me.

But not long after that, as we arrived to another little run off, Jason was on!
And his fish was better than mine:

Jason and his Barramundi.

This fish too was caught on a soft plastic and on the cast.
From there on, the long desert crossing started...
No more Barramundi were to be caught for the day...
We did try every little colour change that we saw, like this one:

Colour change on the Adelaide river.

But to no avail.
So we went back up the river, as far as Beatrice creek. First as we arrived we had the place for ourselves. But it must have taken about all of ten short minutes, to have at least five or six other boats around us, all casting or even anchoring about where we were flicking our lures ten minutes before...

The junction of Beatrice and Adelaide, with a few boats.

Some of the boats even had stereo blasting some night club music...
I might start to be an old fashioned kind of guy, but when fishing, I still prefer the sound of nature and the birds than the Duff Duff music...
Anyway we persisted there for a while, and Jason got two very good hits, but none stayed connected.
The sky was starting to grow darker and more menacing by the minute, and a few lightning started to be seen in the cloudy sky.

Dark sky.

So we made it back towards the ramp, and turned in one last little creek to see if we could get lucky, one more time.
We got lucky with the rain, that is for sure, as it fell upon us like there was no tomorrow.
The positive in it, is that it was refreshing.
And then the rain stopped... For a few minutes and restarted... And stopped again, and started again, a few time.

Flood plain from the last little creek.

In this little creek I actually got a fish, but it was either a Garfish or a Long Tom, not sure which one of them.
It was of the same colour than a Barramundi that would have spend the winter in a billabong. Never I had seen one of this colour before.

But between the intermittent rain and the lack of Barramundi, we decided to call it a day and to head home.
The sky was still full of rain:

Clouds over the Adelaide river.

when we arrived at the ramp, we saw that a lot of people had the same idea than us, and it was a bit busy.

Waiting next to the ramp.

But it wasn't that long before we were able to put the boat back on the trailer, and on the road again, home bounds.

Thanks again to Jason for inviting me fishing, it was great to finally get my first little Barra of the year.

In this trip I used 18 different hard body lures, and four different soft plastics, for a grand total of two fish caught...
I think that this is the absolute proof that I needs more fishing lure...

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

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Rapala Fortnight Freebies Prize.

Hi there,

Yes, I did get very lucky : I won the first 2017 Rapala Fortnight Freebies prize for 2017.
What is that?
Some of you may ask...
Well every fortnight Rapala Australia do a little competition on their Facebook page. And every time a lucky participant get to received for over $200 of Rapala products.
And what did I had to do to become a lucky boy?
Well as it was the first Rapala Freebies of the year, they made it an easy one, so I was in with a chance...
I had to look online at what were their products and tell on their Facebook page which ones I would like to received.
And my choice was really simple, I wanted some fishing lures to chase the mighty Barramundi.
So I said that I would love to get some Storm So-Run Akame and some Twitchin' Mullet.
And that was it, I was the lucky one whose name came up in the draw.
Now, what did I received for such a big effort?
All of that:

All the Freebies from Rapala Australia.

So lets look at it a bit more closely.
Starting first with the ones I really wanted, the big bait:

Storm So-Run Akame.

This is a big lure, with single hooks, made to catch big fish. My goal with these is to catch a big Barramundi. It measure 19cm for 67g, and has a running depth of 0.3M. This looks like a good lure to use for big Barramundi, and I really hope to up my personal best catch on this lure.

Then comes the other lure that I was very interested to put my little fingers on, the Twitchin' Mullet:

Rapala X-Rap Twitchin' Mullet.

The Rapala Twitchin' Mullet is a lure that I really was hoping to win, because I had never seen it in shop in Darwin yet. But after looking at it online it seemed to be exactly the type of lure I would love to flick at some run off creek or even from the shore at some of my urban land based fishing spots.
It is a relatively small lure, 8cm for 13g with a diving depth of 0.3 to 0.6M, which is also what might make it a good land based fishing lure. It has a subsurface walk the dog action, and anyone who knows my fishing preferences knows that I love surface walk the dog lures. So this one should be really interesting to fish with.

As a companion to these two little lure came what could be described as their big brother, the Twitchin' Minow:

Rapala X-Rap, Twitchin' Minow.

This one is bigger and longer that the previous one. It is 12cm for 26g.
In fact there is two sizes available for this lure the 12 cm one and a smaller one at 10cm and 14g.
I am rather happy to have the bigger one, as it will nicely complement the smaller Twitchin' Mullet that came with it.
This one too is a shallow lure with a running depth identical to the Twitchin' Mullet, 0.3 to 0.6M that is. So I intend to fish both lures in the same zones, depending on what type of natural bait swim there on the day. Because as they say, the best is often to match the hatch.

With them came the Shadow Rap Deep:

Rapala Shadow Rap Deep.

This is a lure that I had never seen before, so it is more than welcome in my tackle box.
It is 11cm long for 13g, and is a slow sinking on pause lure.
It will be interesting to see how the Barramundi react to this lure.
It cam in the Clown colour, it is a colour with which I have caught Barramundi with in the past, so I am for the moment quite confident that it too should bring back a fish.

Then in all the goodies, I found some stickers, first this one:

Rapala Auto/Boat Emblem.

I do not have a boat, but I can see it placed on the bonnet of my car.
It will be like driving a Rapala's car, and will continue to make me day dream about fishing while driving to work. So you know, I could stay focused on the task at hand.

And now the proper stickers:

Full set of Rapala Pro Decal.

These stickers will find places on my pushbike and other perfect sticker's spots. My child has already spotted them and I might have to share.

Fishing lures and stickers, what could be missing here?
The cloths!
And here they are:

Rapala Coasting Lure T-Shirt.

Now for a guy like me who is borderline obsessive compulsive when it comes to fishing lures, what a T-shirt to wear!
To go with the shirt was a short:

Rapala Catch Boardies.

When I received an email from Rapala asking me about my pants size, I looked on their website, and this very short was my favourite. So the stars must have aligned properly, as this is the one I received.

And last but not least, you may have noticed it on the first photograph of this post, a bucket:

Rapala stainless steel lures bucket.

This is all what I received from the good guys at Rapala Australia for the Rapala Fortnight Freebies.
Honestly, it is more than what I was expecting, and I am very grateful for all of this, thank you guys.
If you live in Australia, you should definitively go on their Facebook page and try to enter the fortnightly competition, it is well worth it, and lets face it, not too so hard. So that everyone is in with a good chance to win.

Here is a last photograph for the road:

Storm, So-Run Akame.

The only problem for me receiving all these fishing lures early in the week, is that I had to wait nearly a full week before I would be able to test them...

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

FFF Seadogs 2016 Prize.

Hi there,

Yes, I was lucky enough to win a round of the FFF Seadogs 2016.
And not any round but the last one, basically I really got in by the skin of my teeth.

So first what is the FFF Seadogs competition?
It is a friendly fishing competition organised by the FFF fishing forum, in Australia.
The competition is made of eleven rounds, and the angler with the best fish in a round win this round.
At the end of the year, the person who had the biggest number of points (Allocated by the sizes of fish entered in the competition each rounds) win the Grand Prize of Seadog of the year.

Now, I have entered this competition since it's beginning, and it is only the very first time that I win a round in it. This is a testament to the quality of the many anglers who compete in it every years.
And my win was I believe due more to sheer luck than anything else.
But hey, I will take it anyway.

So what did I win?

Yes, all of this!

Now let's have a closer look at all these goodies.
First the Rapala:

Three Rapala fishing lures.

Yes, note one, not two but three Rapala fishing lures.
One Max Rap and two X-Rap XR-12.
The Max Rap swim at 03 to 09M (1-3FT.). And the two X-Rap dive to 1,2-2,4M (4 to 8 FT.).

Then come the Halco / RMG:

Three fishing lures from Halco / RMG.

This lot is made of a 40g Outcast in white, one of my favourite lure when fishing for Queenfish and other small pelagic from the shore. It cast like a bullet and fish love it.
Second is a Laser Pro 120MT, with a swimming depth of 1M. I have never fished with a Laser Pro, but many of my fishing buddies told me that they love it for Barramundi, so I will definitively try it.
And third is the ever reliable Poltergeist 80. A great little lure, which already caught me plenty of fish, and that I rate highly.

Then come the Reidy's:

Two of my favourite Barramundi fishing lure.

One of them is a B52...
Yes, I have said it before, my first ever Barramundi on a lure was on a Reidy's B52.
I have since always had some in my tackle boxes, and always make sure to have a few with me when ever I go fishing. 
The other is a Little Lucifer, these are great lures when fishing the billabong, or at the start of the run off season, when the bait is still relatively small. I have caught some fish with this lure too.

And then came the timber lure:

Deep River Lure.

This one is a Deep River Lure Mugil.
Deep River Lures are handcrafted in Queensland, and are very well finished. I already had two of them, and really like them, even if they are nearly too beautiful to be fished.
They are even signed under the belly:

Deep River Lure Mugil.

But what does the average angler would be with shiny lures and nothing to attach them to?
So here come the fishing line, from Platypus:

Platinum+ Braid by Platypus.

This comes just at the right time. It is here the beginning of the run off season. The time when I get my reels serviced and change the lines that need to be changed. With 300 years of 30lb braid, I will be ok for a little while. Platypus fishing lines are made in Australia and as such are well suited for the harsh condition under which we fish.

And last but not least, the Tonic sunglasses:

Tonic Evo polarized sunglasses.

Each round winner for 2016 was supposed to chose the frame of their choice, and they should have come with polycarbonate lenses. But the guys at Tonic Eyewear decided to give us a nice surprise, and send the glasses with real glass photochromic lenses.
Now that is some super cool stuff!
I already owned a pair of Tonic glasses with photochromic lenses, but I had them for several years and they have suffered the bad treatment that I inflict on my fishing accessories. So a brand new pair is more than welcome.

Oh and what kind of fish did I catch to get rewarded with all these nice things?
Do you remember a post I did in December 2016 about a Barramundi that broke my fishing rod?
That the one!
Yes it did broke my fishing rod, but it brought me a lot more.

I would like to give a big shout out to the FFF Forum for organising this great fishing competition.
And to all the sponsors in no particular order:
Reidy's, Halco / RMG, Rapala, Deep River Lures, Platypus fishing lines, and Tonic Eyewear.
Thank you all, you are making this competition even better.

Now what are my chance to win a round in the FFF Seadogs 2017?
Well, I wouldn't ask you to hold your breath on this one...
As so far I am yet to catch a Barramundi in 2017...

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

Sunday, February 12, 2017

No Time For Fishing.

Hi there,

Lately, I didn't got much time for fishing.
To be honest, I think that I am even starting to suffer some very serious fishing withdrawal.
So over the weekend I went for a few minutes to the water edge.
Where I did a quick little time lapse video on my mobile phone, so I could remember what it feels like to be outdoors near a large piece of water.
Here it is:

Yes I know, it is a bit tragic really...
But this will have to do, until the weather gods become gentler on us fishing folks.
And until, work gives me a bit of time off.

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

First Mangrove Jack Land Based.

Hi there,

Yes today I caught my first ever Mangrove Jack ( Lutjanus argentimaculatus ) land based, and it was also my first Mangrove Jack of the year.
So all in all, a pretty good day really.

I went to one of  my old favourite haunt, namely East Point.
It is really close to my place, and I can be there in a few minutes, the place is beautiful and many different species of fish live there, what's not to love?

East Point in the morning.

Today my plan was to catch a Barramundi.
But the first fish I managed to hook was a little Catfish. It was so little that in fact we could nearly have called it a Kittenfish.

Little Catfish on the line.

But it was good to catch this little guy, as I was starting to think that maybe I should move away, that no fish were on the spot today.
Once I caught this Catfish, I told myself that they are one of the Barramundi favourite food, so I was going to stick around a bit longer.

I continued to flick my lure in the mangrove.
I had just made a cast deep between the submerged trees, when I saw some commotion in the water, just between my fishing lure and myself.
Beauty! This was just on the trajectory of the lure, and it was going to swim pretty close of the action.
And effectively, a soon as the lure got a few centimetres from where I had seen the splash in the water, something grabbed my offering.
It hit good, and went straight for the bottom and the mangrove roots.
At first I even thought that I had been bricked by the fish and that my lure was now stuck to a snag.
But no, by thumbing the spool of my reel and pulling up, I managed to feel the fish moving towards me.
Still, despite the fight no being like the one that a catfish would have given, I started to think that this was no Barramundi. It didn't jump, and fought a different type of fight.
When I finally saw the colour of the fish, I become as happy as if it had been a Barramundi.

Can you guess the fish?

The clues here are that I was fishing in the mangrove, and yes, the title of this blog post.
Yes it was a Mangrove Jack!

Morning Mangrove Jack.

This was no monster, but it was the first time ever that I got one land based. This was also my first Mangrove Jack of the year 2017.
I was in fact so happy with all that, that I decided that it would be his lucky day too, and released it.
Despite the fact that they are absolutely delicious to eat.


This is the mangrove from where I plucked this little guy. As you can see, the place is full of snag, and the water wasn't very clear. Yet, it is on the occasion, when the tides are right, and the planets align the right way, a pretty good spot.
Today was not too bad, it made me happy to get this fish, in a place that I really enjoy.
Even if yes this is true, I didn't catch a Barramundi today. 
So in a way, I failed to accomplish my goal.

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