Land based hopping

Well I haven’t been out on my boat in a while and Mud and I were planning on having a shot. However a few terrible storms on the Saturday made me rethink the idea of getting out on my boat. A mistake based on the weather and the fishing reports but oh well.

We decided to jump in the car and bit some billabongs and culverts. We hit a billabong early in the morning and there was definitely fish there, you can see them from time to time as the water was pretty shallow. But they wouldn’t take anything. Which is rude as it was a 4.30am wake up to ensure we were there at dawn!

So we headed onto shady camp barrage for a flick – zero water on the salty side for as far as the eye can see. Had a go and fresh, but nothing on.

Decided to head to another culvert that was a long way away. When we go there we were surprised by the amount of water. Only had about 40 minutes there as we had to head back home. Mud got two big hits but no hook up. I caught the world’s smallest barra.

Got one tiny barra, and that’s it!


Sunday walk down the beach

The next day we only had two or three hours as I was getting the ferry back to Darwin. We went to a place closer by which was on a beach. We walked up a remote beach flicking at each creek, but the first two we found didn’t have any barra in it. The third one didn’t look promising but Tom spotted two barra sunning themselves. He flicked his trusty gold bomber and like that we had a 64cm Barra. And that was all we really had time for so we headed back. This made me think about next year being based in Melbourne. Obviously no barra down there, but I think walking up some of those beaches looking for flathead is a pretty fun way to fish.


Tom: 64cm barra


Joining that Elusive Club

Went to Melville Island to visit some friends for a long weekend of fishing

Except after launching on Friday it was discovered that the boat wouldn’t start… so no fishing for the friday, and the trip was looking less than ideal.

But land based fishing is still fun, so that was Saturday’s plan. Tom had heard of a place that had big barra at this time of year. But doesn’t everyone say that. If I was to describe it I would say that it looked a lot like buffalo creek.

We got there at first light, but we expected the fishing to heat up each side of the 10.30am low. A little bit of action here and there in the morning showed there was a fish around, so that was good. With no fish after an hour, Tom decided to live bait. It wasn’t long before he caught a monster black tipped reef shark. He went back to live baiting and soon hooked and dropped a barra, estimated at 60cm. So that was a good sign. Not too long afterwards he hooked another barra around 70cm and got it the bank before he lost it in the worst way possible – his knot undid.

He was pretty annoyed, but finally the third bit of livebait hooked up and he got our first barra of the day, 61cm, and we had dinner for everyone. A funny moment in that fight was when the barra hooked up, it instantly ran across my line, we crossed back right away and I was going to wind up but, I could feel his fishing fighting, even though they appear uncrossed. I didn’t wind it up not wanting to cost him a barra… It took us a while to figure out that were NOT tangled, actually, I had a 35cm Jack on!


Meanwhile I had been swapping my lures with regularity with one or two strikes, but overall not doing well. Soon my blue barra classic was called for, and around an hour before the low, BANG.

What followed was one of the worst performances in angling history.

My drag was way too loose, WAY too loose, so it took my line and bolted against the current and away from the snags. I couldn’t tell at first what it was, I said to Tom “It might be a shark”, Tom said “No, way it’s a barra”. Actually I thought so, I just didn’t want to jinx it.

It came back and went again and it was obvious it was a barra and my drag was too loose. Tom told me to tighten it, I hate doing it on the run, but he was right, so I did. As it charged around upstream, I was dumbfounded at how big it was and how lucky I was it didn’t go charging for the snags. Predictably enough, it came towards me, then decided to head straight for the snags. I tightened the drag again on the run, but it wasn’t enough, it went straight under one dead tree so I could see the line against it, through some more branches and onwards.

I held him firm for a bit, and Tom said he could see it in a far off drain. I thought about for a bit and decided to freespool him to see if he would sort himself out. When I tightened it again, the lure was stuck on something, but there was no action with the fish. I freespool again for a while in hope… but when I tightened it again, it was the same. It seemed the lure was caught on a snag and the fish was gone. Not wanting to lose my lure, I tightened up the drag and slowly pulled… yay! I was lucky enough to break the branch off, but it was fairly big. ‘At least I get the lure’ I thought. So I slowly heaved my stick-fish in. It got past the branches, but got caught on the second snag. It was then I could see it was a metre by a metre of tangled branches… and the giant barra still there, being dragged sideways!

“He’s still on!” yelled Tom. Yes he was.



Soon the snag was hooked on another snag, so I had to go slack again, and luckily the current sorted everything out, and I was able to slowly pull both of them in.

We measured her at 96cm before putting her in the esky, my first legal saltwater barra since March. I was utterly stoked. Tom asked me if I wished it was a metre, yeah I guess, but who can complain with 96cm and also, my performance meant I really didn’t deserve it anyway.


It was only 20 minutes after that that Tom hooked another barra on a lure, this one loved jumping, he got it in, and it measured 83cm. When it came up the bank it really rolled itself in mud and Tom walked across to the ocean to clean it for the photo. (Interestingly we later found the barra was absolutely full of parasites and had to be thrown out)

I also caught a small cod, because that’s what I do. It was actually hard to release. There was a well known large croc who lived there, and the banks had about a metre of mud. I tried to throw him back but he landed in the mud with a plop. I had to fetch a stick from the trees behind us to poke him back in the water, and he swam away.

I had been cycling my lures regularly as I wasn’t getting any action, and Tom was getting some bites. We saw some large threadies swim by, but they were uninterested in our lures.

About 30 minutes after the water came pouring in, I was back on the same blue barra classic and bam! I was on again. This time I didn’t make any mistakes. My drag was exactly as it should be. As she came from the snag and hit the lure she followed the water away from the snags, as I expected. I held on for grim death, even with a tight drag she was peeling it off. But I also started walking up the bank, knowing if she charged back towards them, she it would be extra distance she’d have to make up against against the rod. Walking in sand and not allowing slack required two hands on the rod! At one point she jumped in the air, and got her whole body a foot out, and you had to marvel at such a sight. Tom wanted to know if it was a big as last time, it was hard to tell because the spool was so different, though I did think she was bigger, but I denied it… I didn’t want to jinx it. In the interest of honesty I will confess to thinking “4cm bigger, please please just 4cm bigger”.

She made two runs away from me, when I got her to the bank she made one last charge for the snags, but couldn’t get there, I had added an extra 15 metres that she had to swim. And so we dragged her up the bank, put the tape measure and 100cm! It was an easy decision to release her given we had a feed and then some. Tom ran to get the camera, and I thought she was actually 101cm. I called to him to witness and he said “are you really worried about the extra cm?” which was a good point so I lugged her up with great care and posed for the photo.


After that was was done I was ready to release her, but suddenly I remembered the cod and realised how difficult that was going to be. No way I was wading in knee deep mud in that river. Tom’s previous idea of washing the barra in the ocean suddenly came to me, so cuddling her gently I sprinted off to towards the sea. The visibility was really good and it was only a foot or two for a while, so I felt safe and able to revive her there. She tried to play dead but with a single slight squeeze of the tail she roared to life, and powered away.

From there we had a few more red hot goes on our lures, but nothing hooked up. Things died off as the water continued to come in, so we decided to call it and head home.


Me: 96cm & 100cm barra… and a mangrove jack, cod
Tom: 61cm, 83cm barra… and a large shark

Rats on the Chew

It’s been since March that I got my last barra keeper. This was the 16th time that I have gone out and targeted them without personally pulling one in. I was up at 4.30am, it was very hot on the boat (it’s November after all) and we put in some serious hours on the water.

Mud got two barra, the biggest was 47cm. I got one, though technically not landed, I might have put more of an effort in had it been size, I would estimate 35cm. So it wasn’t all bad.

We headed to Salt Water Arm, we even got a Tales from the Tinny report from Shane Compain for SWA on the way there. Last weekend he got 30 fish, 20 keepers, it was as healthy as he had ever seen it, all we had to do was…

So we followed his advice, without much luck.

One thing we realised on the way there that TEBs was at SWA and there were going to be boats everywhere. My only consolation at my current cold streak is that I spoke to quite a few boats, and it seemed much the same. Three didn’t have any barra at all, three had a single keeper, all barely legal.

Well I am off to the tiwis next weekend and if I can’t get barra there, I will have to think about a retirement… maybe start targeting tiny cod, I’m good at that.

Me: 35ish barra*
Mud: 47cm barra, 40ish barra

Random story of the trip
It is possible I hooked a monster fish at the narrows, but I am still pretty sure it was the ground. Mud thinks line was peeling off to fast to be a fish, but it was about 2 seconds before the line snapped, so who knows.


Promises Lead Nowhere

A very early wake up to be on the water at first light. We headed to a coast creek near the boat ramp, about a third of the way to where Brian usually fishes, I didn’t want to go the full trip because of the afternoon wind. Things started pretty well, hit some snags and Brian pulled out his first barra, 47cm. He pulled out two cods before I got my trademark small cod of the day, but soon the water receded and across the low we didn’t think we would catch anything. The signs were good, bait was around, every now and again a large fish would jump, or we would hear a barra boof.

We waited and waited for the fish to charge up the river like they did the last time, but it never happened.

Things got more quiet as the water came in, the bait were gone and nothing was happening. We decided to head back and in desperation I stuck a line out to troll back. Nothing happened and I was about to give up before BAM I was on.

It resisted at first but allowed itself to be wound into the boat, so I was thinking catfish. But suddenly it was peeling off line like there was no tomorrow. It kept up this trip for a while, it was impossible to bring to the surface, it wouldn’t over resistance but as soon as it was near the surface it would peel off. If I wasn’t in 1m of water I would have thought a GT. Brian was hoping for a barra but without the jump I didn’t think so.

Anyway, it was soon worn out, and it revealed itself to be a nice sized Queenfish. The reason it was acting so strange was because I had hooked it through the top of its back, meaning it was impossible to turn its head. But hey, it was great fun, it has been a while since my line got peeled off, and I personally love the taste of Queenies. I’ve got some Nummas (Cerviche) in the fridge as I type.

I was really disappointing that the barra weren’t on, as this time I was prepared with a bent minnow and a popper. But oh well, still a fun day on the water, and I’ve got a feed for this week.

Last week will be my last trip for a while, I need to stack up the freezer soon!

Me: Nice queenie, small cod
Brian: 47cm barra, 2 small cods

Random story of the trip:
The queenie had a little fly hook in the corner of his mouth.