Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Morning On Darwin Harbour.

Hi there,

Yes, it had been a long time since I last went fishing.
So when Theodosius sent me a text message asking if I wanted to go fishing on Sunday, I said Yes Please!

The plan was to go and spend the morning on Darwin Harbour, to try to catch a fish or two, and hopefully they would be Barramundi.

At 6:27AM on Sunday I got a text message from Theodosius saying that he was in front of my place.
I ran out with all my gear, impatient to go and get some fish.
Ah the expectation...
Ah the excitement of going on a fishing trip...

We launched easily, from Dinah Beach boat ramp, and headed for some little arms in the harbour in the morning light, as the sun was just rising.

Zooming in the morning.

As we neared the first spot that we were going to fish for the day, I couldn't help to think how lucky we are, living in Darwin. To have such a great harbour on our doorstep.

Sunrise over the mangroves.

Flat waters are the best.

Yes, it was picture perfect, it feel like if we were in an advertisement from Tourism NT.
Once the sun rose high enough to give us some proper light, we saw fog or mist on the mangroves.
For a little while we could have believed that we were in Scotland on our way to fish for Salmon.
It was just a bit warmer that what I imagine Scotland to be.

Dawn on the tidal creek.

It was calm and peaceful, but we wanted the mayhem created by catching some angry fish.
So we set ourselves to the task and started to fish.

Fishing in the first light.

Theodosius, said that a submerged snag was just in front of us, under about two meters of water.
We could see some little Trevally and Queenfish smashing the baits above it.
So we tried to send our lures deeper into the snag. 
And it didn't take long for Theodosius to get the first fish, a nice little Flathead:

Theodosius first fish of the day.

Despite Flatheads being delicious to eat, this one would have been a bit too small to fillet, and as such was released to grow a bit more.
And from the exact same spot Theodosius proceed to reel in two beautiful Golden Snapper, one after the other.
He put back the smaller one in its natural habitat, and gave me the bigger one, that I placed in the esky, as I was not yet sure to catch a fish on the day. And as they say, a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

Theodosius releasing the smaller Golden Snapper.

I then got hooked up on a medium sized Queenfish, who promptly took my line around a submerged branch and got me truly and properly snagged.
I had to break the line and loose the lure.
So I decided to try my luck with a surface lure and started to flick around a small walk the dog type of lure. As I was doing a cast that should have been pretty average, something happened.
And no, not something great...
The leader knot got stuck on the line guide on the rod, and this here is the result of it:

Bird nest.

Yes, the best bird nest I had in ages was now in my hands.
I looked at it for a few minutes, and decided to leave it as is, and continue the day with my other rod and reel. I would take care of this mess later on at home, and not continue to waste any more of precious fishing time.

With that, we decided to move a bit further and arrive to a beautiful snag that we could perfectly see under shallow water. 
And among the many branches of it, we could see our coveted target, Barramundi!
A few go them were in there, and at the first pass of Theodosius lure, they went straight for it.
Sadly none stayed connected to the lure.
So it was my turn to cast in there, and what a sight.
We could see the Barra coming out between the branches and fighting for the lure. Some of them were really fired up, and had that white line on the front of the head, that they have when full on in feeding mode. One of them had a few go at my offering but failed to hook despite biting on the lure at many reprise. 
Theodosius casted again and this time came back with the good:

Theodosius with the first Barramundi of the weekend.

Even if this one was just slightly too short to keep. I was quite simply getting a lesson in fishing, as I was yet to land a single scale. While my skipper was already on his fourth fish.
It was time to wake up!
As we moved a bit further again, I finally caught my first Barramundi of the day. It was 57cm, so good to keep, and I gave it to Theodosius, as he had given me a Goldie not long ago, this was the least I could do.
And I was now happy to see that I could still catch a fish.

Theodosius was fishing from the top of his ladder, from where he could spot the Barramundi much better than I could. And would regularly point them to me, so I could cast at them.
But he was better than I and came back with another fish:

His second Barramundi for the day.

You could see in the back, how calm was the water. 
The tide was now falling rapidly and we could not stay as close of the mangroves as previously, without the risk of getting stuck in the mud.
So we mover a bit further away:

Falling tide on the mangroves of Darwin Harbour.

At one point, we got surrounded by a school of Blue Salmons, and yes once again, I was not the sharpest hook in the bag, so I wasn't the one to catch one of them.
I suppose that you guessed who got one:

First Blue Salmon.

This fish was released to fight another day.
It didn't took long before I heard the Yep! I am on! again.
Yet this time, even if smaller, the fish was handled with more precaution, du to his good set of teeth:

Baby Barracuda on the lure.

Yes it was just a young one, but it already would have had a nasty little bite, and was treated accordingly.

We then went to a little creek where Theodosius told me that he had once lost a nice Barra in there.
I really hopped I would get one in there.
And it happened:

My second Barramundi for the morning.

Coming in at 66cm (25.984252 Inches), I decided to keep this fish too for a good feed.
And by now, I can tell you that it tasted delicious.
There I also caught a Catfish and a little shark. Both were released, rest reassured.

After that we went back to the first snag that we fished earlier in the morning. 
With the now lower tide we saw the lure I had previously lost, dangling on one of the now visible branches, And Theodosius managed to grab it and gave it back to me.

We then went to a last creek to try to find some more Barramundi. But what we found was a lot of Blue Salmon.
We even got a double hook up on them, and here is the result of it:

Blue Salmon double.

Both of them were released as we already had enough to provide our respective family with a good feed of fresh fish.
So on this good note, we decided to call it a day and to head back to the ramp.
This was a happy day, we saw many fish and stingrays. Even a small pod of dolphin on the way back.
Thank you Theodosius for inviting me on your boat.

So I had a great meal of fresh fish, but now I still have this bird nest to take care of...

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

Monday, May 29, 2017

2017 Top End Barra Series Round 2.

Hi there,

A few days ago the second round of the 2017 Top End Barra Series took place on the Daly River.
And here comes the tales of it...

Straight after work on Friday evening, I went home, got a shower and raced to Craig's place so we could leave in the evening and be there as soon as possible.
By the time we arrived to the boat ramp it was full on night time:

Launching at night.

Now, for the ones among you who don't know the Daly River, is a waterway full of big crocodiles. And to me standing on the water edge, in the dark, not being able to see what was or was not swimming in front of me was rather nerves wrecking. Luckily, Craig was quick to park the car, and we were then both able to jump in the boat and motor along the river.

But it was very dark, and misty on the water, we couldn't go very fast or very far.
So as soon as we arrived at Charlie's Creek, we decided to moor the boat and camp there.
I did try to cast a fizzer into the night, but no Barra were interested to play the game.
So we soon felt asleep. With me waking up a few times through the night, listening with attention but not hearing a single Barramundi feeding.
Still I slept well, as I usually do on a boat, under the stars.
One of my favourite place to sleep.
Just before day rise, I was up again on the casting deck, flicking my lure. For no more success than on the previous evening. 
Slowly the day came in and it was a rather cold one:

Cold morning on the Daly River.

As I sent a lure flying behind some logs in the water, Craig said that I would be a bit in a strife if ever I was to hook on a fish over there... Well as soon as he said it, a fish took my lure with gusto, and I got excited, but lost it in a few seconds, it hadn't been properly hooked. Which in insight may have been a blessing in disguise, as I don't know how I would have brought it back from behind all these snags.
After just another half-hearted hit for about one hour of casting this spot, we decided to move.

On the move, we saw BarraTragic who came towards us and who as a present, gave me this really cool advertising fishing lure:

A Coke fishing lure.

Yes, This is a Coca-Cola fishing lure, in regards to advertising fishing lures, this is pretty special.
Thank you BT, I am very happy to have this little guy joining my small collection of advertising fishing lures. And yes, this one was made by Reidy's, the Darwin local boys, one of my favourite lure brand too. What's not to like?!

The day was going to be glorious, I told myself.
Not far from there we found a little creek that looked good to us, so we stopped and started to flick our lures to it's entrance.
And this is how I got not the biggest fish ever, but my first one of the weekend:

First Barra of the weekend.

Yes it was definitively on the small side of things, but a fish is a fish, and that was our first one of the weekend on the boat.
Not long after while trolling a Laser Pro +2  I got another one, just a very little bit bigger...

Second little fish of the weekend.

As we were about to learn, this weekend was going to be a small fish bonanza, with not many big ones for us. Yet many small fish are often more fun than just one or two average ones.
So we trolled some more:

Trolling the Daly.

As you can see the two very beautiful hand made Blinky's lures on the windshield, were about as big as most of the fish we were to catch during the course of the weekend.
While trolling we came across Dave who was fishing a creek mouth where him and his mate keep having double hook-up. 

Dave reeling in a small Barramundi.

We stopped next to them, but weren't able to catch any fish ourselves.
Was there a curse on us? One can only wonder...
we tied the boat a bit further against the bank, and I finally got another small fish:

Smaller and smaller.

Yes, smaller and smaller seemed to be the order of the day.
So we decided to troll the gut of the river, to try to find better fish.
I put a Classic +10 in the Gasper Ghost colour, and bang I got a fish!
Slightly bigger, and much darker:

The darkest Barramundi of the trip.

This one must not have seen any salt water yet, and was coloured in the typical fashion of the fresh water barramundi. Hopefully after we released it, it will fin salt water and grow to become a big mama Barra.
Having caught a nearly legal fish with this white lure, I decided that it was the right one to use and continued to troll with it... And lost it to a snag a few minutes latter.
This was going to become a recurrent thing over the weekend. If a lure worked well, I would loose it.
So having lost it, I looked in my tackle box for another white lure, and found an F18 in the Albino colour. Beauty!
I was going to catch me some fish with that lure, no worries...
And we trolled again.
And then Craig said that I needed to learn how to steer the boat...
So we swapped places and I found myself behind the wheel. One hand on the wheel, and a fishing rod in the other. Craig explained, calmly to me, what to do if a fish was to take one of our lures: turn toward the centre of the river, and put in neutral. Then deal with the fish.
Yes, right...
I got a fish on my line, and screamed: I am on! What do I do! The boat's going the wrong way! Get the net! Where is the boat going? How do I put it in neutral?
You guessed it, saying that I am not very good at multitasking would be a serious understatement...
Still we managed to get the boat, not on the bank but near the middle of the river, and the net ready, I just had to get the fish close enough for Craig to scoop it.
Eventually it happened, and I finally got a legal fish:

My only point scorer for the weekend.

Without being a giant fish, this was enough to get me on the board, and to get the monkey off my back.
That fish had been caught in a beautiful part of the Daly River:

The Daly River.

From there we trolled some more, but without any success, I just lost another white lure to a snag.
There was no more white lure in my tackle box.

Craig trolling and steering the boat on the Daly River.

By now it was starting to be the end of the first day, and the sunset saw us trying to find the right spot to spend the night.

Sunset on the Daly River.

We found a spot in front of a little feeder creek, and decided to spend the night there.
the anchor was lowered, but the bugs and mosquitos were out in plague proportion. so we skipped the dinner and just took refuge in our respective sleeping bags.
I did hear a few boof during the night but couldn't tempt any fish with my fizzer in the dark.
All I managed to catch was a tree on the bank...
At first I thought about sleeping while the lure was still in the tree with my line attached to it. But quickly realised that if a boat was to drive by, between us and the bank, the line could get stuck on the throat of someone on the said boat, and that it would be no good at all.
So I decided to break it, even if it meant loosing the lure. Pulling as hard as I could, I in fact managed to get the lure off the branches and back in the water. This was my clue that I better get some sleep to be ready for the following day.

And the following day came fast and early:

Boiling water for the morning coffee.


Cooking some bacon.

I am not sure that there is many things better than a good sandwich full of bacon for  breakfast on a boat before a full day of fishing.
And while the bacon was quietly sizzling in the fry pan, I couldn't help myself, but had to flick a Halco Scorpion down the little feeder creek.
This resulted in the first two Barramundi of the day!
even if they were small, it got us happy, and better thing were to come:

My two little morning Barra.

Due to there sizes, both were released to grow a bit more until the next time.
All this action took us straight to the time to eat a great breakfast:

Morning BLT on the river.

Just as we were about to dig in these great sandwich, Craig rod, which was strolling a lure F18 at the back of the boat, suddenly bent and a nice little Barra started to splash at the end of his line!
We both dropped our food, him rushing for his rod, and me for the net.
The fish wasn't very far, and quickly was boat side. It wasn't very big, but was still very green, and gave a good account of itself, and it took a few try to net it.
Finally it was in the boat, and this was Craig first fish of the trip, and it was a point scorer!

Craig with his first Barramundi for the weekend.

This had us cheering and enjoy our breakfast even more, laughing about this catch.
Once we had demolished our meal, we couldn't help to cast our lures around, hoping for another Barra from the same spot.
But alas, all we could get was another small one:

Another little one from the same spot.

After about one hour of beating the place to foam for no more fish, we decided to move along and try to find a good spot full of fish. Surely this must exist somewhere...
On the way we saw a few of the river inhabitant:

Daly River crocodile.

And we found it the spot where people were catching good fish!
Quite a few boats were working this trolling run, most of them with success.
As we arrived, Rossco and his son had just caught two Barramundi in the 70cm range.
We were full of hope.

Rossco and Son trolling the golden patch.

Trollin' trollin' trollin' ...

Yes a few boat were on it, and most got fish in front of us.
Beside us, behind us all around us...
But not us...
I think me constantly being snagged may have diminished our chances...
There I lost a brand new Rapala and an Halco Laser Pro +2 which had already caught me a few fish before.
We were the last ones to leave this spot, and maybe the only ones not having caught anything on it.
Such is life sometimes...

As we were leaving we passed a little creek mouth, where we saw some of the participants of the Top End Barra Series, who seemed to catch a few.

Boats at the little creek.

But the place was small and already crowded, so we decided to try to find our own.
And our own we found.
They were only small fish but in great abundance, all caught with soft plastic lures on the cast, which was good for our moral as we felt a bit low after seeing everybody catching fish, everybody but us...
Here is some examples of what we found at this little honey hole:

Lots of little Barramundi.

Other people who trolled close by seemed to catch better fish, but for once that we were having great fun, we din't want to move. You know what they say: don't leave fish to find fish...

Boats trolling near us.

Finally seeing them catching nice fish for a little while, we decided to try the trolling thing.
We put some deep hard body lures at the end of our lines.
And once again, instead of catching big fish, we went on the smaller size road:

Bigger lure for small fish.

So we decided to slowly made our way back towards the boat ramp, with a last stop near Brown's Creek.

Fishing Brown's Creek.

Here again we got many little fish.
So just in case you were not up to scratch with your fishing photography...
Here is the fishing photography 101 major tip-off: When the fish is small, hold it close to the camera:

Massive little fish.

Yes, we had a good laugh making this photo. And after all this is what it is all about, having a good time, filled with good laugh between mates.

The place was very beautiful and we are definitively lucky to still have this kind of spots. That modernity and development have not spoiled yet.

Sand bank opposite Brown Creek.

This sand bank was full of crocodiles. Of both varieties, salt water ones and fresh water ones.
As we left we even saw a face-off between to individuals of each species:

Salt water and fresh water crocodiles face-off.

We didn't stay to watch the end result, but I wouldn't be surprised if the bigger salt water one got the upper hand.
But for us it was time to head back:

Heading back to the ramp.

At the ramp a few vessel were already there, but it wasn't long before we got Craig's boat on the trailer  and were on our way back to the city:

On the road again.

This truly had been a great weekend, full of laugh, good food, and plenty of little Barramundi.
Yes they were small, but the sheer number of them is very good augur for the future of fishing on the Daly River. It look like we finally had a good wet season to start things up again.

Thank you Craig for inviting me on your boat.
And I can't wait for the next round of the Top End Barra Series, to spend another full weekend of fishing.

Yes, I know, I haven't yet caught a meter plus Barramundi from the Daly River...

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