Corroboree Billabong Barra - Jarrod Day lands his personal best Barramundi fishing with Darwin's Barra Base.
|It was well beyond gentleman's hours when I flew into Darwin, nevertheless the chance to get a few hours sleep before the morning call of 4.00am proved a difficult task since I hadn't rigged up; yet. With weary eyes and no sleep, I met with Owner / Operator of Darwin's Barra Base, Allan Beale. Allan's vast knowledge of the area proved invaluable and meant there would be more time having the lures in the water rather than out.||For some reason, Allan made mention that I must have packed the weather with me when I left Victoria because he was quick to point out the newspaper headline reading “Bloody Freezing”. Though they may have had one of the coldest days on record, I chuckled at the fact that most of the Darwinians were wearing jeans and jumpers - I was still in shorts.|
| Unfortunately for me though, like any fish during a cold snap the barra had shut down because of the sudden drop in water temperature.
So, I had to work hard for quality fish, just what we do for fish in Victoria
|The trip to our fishing spot was short but it felt like an eternity as we wound our way thought; the maze of huge Pandanus trees and banks lined with water lilies. The brisk morning air really made you feel alive and I was standing the bow of the boat grasping the surroundings en route to our first destination. While brolgas danced in theshallows, jabirus attempted to chase minnows on the edge of the billabong and before letting a lure fly, I had to take all this in to really appreciate where I was. Approaching a small clearing, Allan said with high confidence, "This is the spot." Without hesitation, I was quick to unload the first lure into the water, closely followed by Will, another keen barra angler. The water depth was quite shallow in the billabong so one metre depth hard bodies were chosen.|| It only took minutes trolling a small patch of weed and water lily stems when a sizeable barra burst from the surface. As if it was in slow motion, the fish lunged skyward tossing its head from side to side in an attempt to throw the lure. Landing back into the already existing ripples from where it launched, the fish flicked its tail and headed to the weedy bank. Will quickly put on the brakes, turning the fish in the opposite direction and with some clever rod work, had the fish boat side quickly. The fight was short lived but needlessto say put a smile on everybody's face, considering the first fish had been boated after trolling about 50 metres.
The next hook-up was met much the same way as the first with Will suddenly attracting what seemed to be every fish in the billabong with his lure.
Will's second catch was a magnificent saratoga, the size of which I had never seen.
|Becoming quite anxious to get among the action, I made the switch to something a little more silver with a hint of green on its back and quickly made contact with a nice barra. After working the same weed bed for a while we decided to give it a rest and make our way across to the other side of a billabong where more fish lay in wait. The first passing of another weed bank had fish smash some of the lures. Amongst the barra was a nice array of catfish with some being quite large specimens. They do throw in a few head shakes making quite an interesting bi-catch for those who haven't caught them before. Fortunately for the catties, they have some nasty spines next to their dorsal fin, so with a solid pair of lip grippers they are quickly returned to the water.||Allan's other boat, a purpose built GS Marine full of day trippers, had also followed us in ernst of nailing a few good fish and before they knew it, they had much the same success. The morning session grew on and with heavy clouds above and a cold south- easterly wind, the surface temperature dropped three degrees by mid afternoon. We had worked many weed banks during the morning session and with the cooling of the water had to find a warmer patch where the barra might be a little more active. Heading up the billabong, Allan had a few small tricks up his sleeve. Underwater rock bars are an ideal location to troll for barra as the rocks stay warm when the water cools. After heading to the 'Rock Hole' and sounding over the deep rock bar, barra were perched around eagerly awaiting a meal. We returned the lures to the water and dropped them back a little further than normal in the hope they would get down a little deeper.|
| We had the option of switching the lures altogether to deep running lures but with heavy weed growth on the bottom, you encounter more snags than fish. By sending the lure a little further enabled the lure to work just over the weed growth. As most of the lures contained ball bearings, it was a matter of getting them to work so the fish couldn't resist inhaling them. A quick shake in the rod tip made a loud rattle beneath the water and with a pause in between each shake, gave the fish a chance to nail it. It didn't take long before another barra took flight. This time though the hooks hadn't been set and with all the head shaking, a brightly coloured lure was sent sailing through the air. After checking the damage to the tossed lure, I noticed the back set of trebles slightly out of shape which made me think about the next lure I was to put into the water.
With the power of these fish in mind, I quickly traded the standard treble hooks for Owner ST66TNs. Owner hooks are extremely sharp and being four times as strong as conventional trebles meant I'd have a better chance of driving the hooks into a big fish if one came to the party. After feeling the effects of working lures past weed beds, gutters and rock bars, some of the lures had to be retired; hooks stretched beyond their means and scraped colours from consistent rubbing on the fish's raspy gums made them a fantastic addition to the mantle piece when I got home.
|The second day began much as the same as the first, except with a little more warmth in the air. Thankfully we were greeted by the most picturesque red sky scape only the Northern Territory could offer. I'd decided to jump on board the other boat on the second day and following suit from the lure selection of day one, hooked up on a another leaping toga. Not as big as some, this feisty fella put forward a great battle but soon made way toward the boat. I'd actually thought I'd pulled the hooks but on winding in I noticed he was still sucking on the lure. With Boga grips out, we managed to lift him aboard and carefully return him back to the water a short time later.||
Corroboree Billabong Barra
| It took quite a few hours of trolling before getting another hook-up. The water temp still hadn't risen and while the hours passed, the lures were constantly wrenched back and forth while I kept a close eye on the myriad of crocs.
I'd become quite blasé by this time from the repetitive tweaking of the lure that for some reason or another while working the lure, I felt a light bump.
My automatic reaction was to wrench the rod back. As I did, I felt a thumping head shake through the rod tip and immediately set the hook into a good fish.
We all looked back in awe as this brute barrelled out in a violent leap, tail walking the surface of the water. I'd met my match, a solid barra causing me to huff and puff as he headed for a snag on the opposite side of the billabong.
Knowing I was in trouble, Mark, the skipper of the GS Marine, gunned the boat aiding in pulling the fish away from the pandanus trees all the while I was trying to gain as much line back as I could. Though the fight only took a few minutes, the weight of the fish and broad tail made it a difficult task getting him to the boat easily.
Finally lifting the fish, the silver flanks shone through the murky water and with a grin from ear to ear, I'd just landed my PB barra. We'd previously landed quite a number of fish nudging the 55cm mark but this bloke blew them away measuring 73cm.
Of course there's nothing I'd like more than to lock horns with a metrey but I was still content with the fish I had just landed. We continued targeting the weed banks since this is where the majority of hook-ups came from and with each pass found fish liking our lures. On a high, the two days ended with a cricket score of fish ranging 30 to 73cm. What some didn't like, they tossed but the majority of hook-ups turned into successful landings.
Read Jarrod Day's new article on lures, gear and trolling for barra at Corroboree Billabong.
| Recovering from a sore wrist and stretched arms, I could only imagine the sheer power from a metre plus barra.
With that in mind and plenty more of the territory to explore, I quickly pencilled in another date for some hotter barra action.
|Jarrod's Barra Approach||Don't Forget the Necessities||Barra Fishing NT|
ROD'S "N" REELS
Wilson Live Fibre Territory 8kg
Shimano Calais 200ASV
30lb Finis Braid
60lb Black Magic Flourocarbon
|| Jarrod fished courtesy of Tourism NT and Darwin's Barra Base
For more information on travelling to the Territory I suggest you log onto www.tourismnt.com.au or call 136110
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