The 2008 Daiwa BARRA Tour was one of the most anticipated events of the tournament calendar and it didn’t disappoint. Consolidated into a two-week period, the five-stop tour began at Teemburra Dam and finished at Lake Monduran.
The highest ranked angler at the end of the Daiwa BARRA Tour takes home the coveted Angler of the Year Trophy and gets a chance to star in the next televised series of the Australian Fishing Championships.
The Taylor boys, Cy and Kerrin, once again dominated the competition, but also with a few surprise winners thrown in. This is how the tour unfolded.
Barra Guide Jason Wilhelm kick started the 2008 Daiwa BARRA Tour in grand style, claiming his second career victory at the Classic Lures Teemburra Dam 2-Day Evening Event, 14-15 November. Compiling a 9/10, 543cm bag for the two day event, Wilhelm showed that quantity rather than quality was the key to his success by racking up a string of conservatively sized fish to secure victory.
Fishing the points in the main basin and the adjacent shallow bays and edges Wilhelm used a super shallow and ultra light presentation to catch his fish.
“We cracked the pattern during the Thursday prefish and found the barra sitting tight up in the shallows (1-2ft) with what seemed barely enough water to cover their backs”, said Wilhelm.
Focusing on the discoloured and muddy edges Wilhelm presented a modified, weight reduced, Evil Minnow coloured 110 Squidgy Slick Rig Pro, casting the offering tight to the edge before beginning an ultra slow retrieve out from the bank.
“The 2ft zone out front of the edge was the hot zone, and this is where most of the fish came from”, said Wilhelm.
“Most of the hits came with in the first two cranks of the handle. If we didn’t get a hit we’d quickly wind the lure back in and make another cast.”
While the bites were consistent throughout the session it was after dark and during the moments when the moon popped its head out from behind the cloud that Wilhelm and team mate, 2007 Teemburra victor Alan McNamara, saw a defined spike in activity.
“They turned on late in the session when the moon came out and lit up the place”, explained Wilhelm, “It was like flicking a switch at times the change was that noticeable.”
The tackle used to present his tournament winning lures included a 7’6” Millerods Beast Buster Toad rod, Shimano Fireblood 400 reel, spooled with 30lb Nitlon PE and 80lb Jinkai leader.
The lure itself was the ever-popular Squidgy Slick Rig, with the lighter Pro versions streamlined even more with a shaving of lead off the internal weight and a hot bath to make them swim a little looser.
“Boiling them in hot water is something that we’ve just started to do”, said Wilhelm, “It softens the plastic and allows the Slick Rig to swim, roll and shake its tail on the slowest of dead slow retrieves.”
Post victory Wilhelm was ecstatic with his start to the tour and the goals he set him-self for the two week barra junket.
“After a busy and stressful six months with guiding and less that ideal tournament results I just wanted to kick back and have fun fishing the tour with my mates”, explained Wilhelm. The change in mindset paid dividends with the Awoonga and Monduran barra guide leading the race for the 2/2, Northern BARRA Angler of the Year title as it hits the road and heads to Peter Faust for the second and final northern round of the tour.
Snapping at Wilhelm’s heal in second place was Mackay local and BCF Assistant Manager Jason Crofts with 8/10, 509cm.
Fishing the Teemburra Creek area of the dam, Crofts like Wilhelm keyed-in on the muddy, wind influenced banks as the areas to target, focusing on and getting best results from the points and their leading edges.
“The left bank of Teemburra Creek was exposed to the wind and it was here that we scored our fish using a weedless, shallow (1-3ft) plastic presentation”, said Crofts.
Using a Berkley Gulp Jerk Shad rigged on a 7/0 worm hook Croft casts his offering tight to the water’s edge before retrieving it back to the boat with a combination of slow rolling and lift, drop ‘n’ shake retrieves. As his primary spots suffered under tournament pressure Crofts adjusted tact and refocused his attention on secondary locations that most anglers couldn’t access in their larger boats.
“We hit the ugly and hard to get to pockets and bays that get overlooked by many angles”, said Crofts. The approach paid off with Crofts and team mate Isaac Toivanen catching fish continually throughout the session.
His choice of tackle used to compile his bag included a 6-10kg St Croix rod, Daiwa 7:1 Zillion reel, spooled with 30lb Berkley Tracer Braid, and 60lb Black Magic Tuff Trace.
The Daiwa Big Barra for the event fell to BARRA Tour regular and AFC angler Cy Taylor, with the young gun catching the 92cm, prize winning fish just after sunset on the second day.
“We dropped 10 fish before dark, then the big fish nailed the lure and thankfully made its way into the landing net”, said Taylor.
The battle for bragging rights on the team front was a laissez faire with Jason Wilhelm and Alan McNamara from Team Shimano/ E-Tec outclassing the other teams by nearly 200cm.
Elaine Sanderson claimed the Classic Lures Bonus prizes picking up the lure tray of Classic Lures with her 61cm day one specimen, while Keegan Hayden secured the Daiwa Bonus Prize as the first angler back to the tag board on day one wearing his orange Daiwa Cap.
Classic Lures Teemburra Results
The most northern stop of the 2008 Daiwa BARRA Tour produced tough and frustrating fishing for the 28 gathered teams at the Shimano Peter Faust two-day morning event on the 18-19 November.
While hot conditions and light winds provided seemingly ideal conditions, inactive and a hard to define bite pattern saw only 53 fish grace the competitor’s Shimano Brag Mats for the 14 hours of angling.
Leading the charge and adding another first and second finish to their growing tournament resume was Kerrin (7/10, 461cm) and Cy Taylor (5/10, 346cm) who saved their best to last, delivering a full five fish limit catch card to the score tent on the second and final morning of competition.
The only anglers to catch a limit for the tournament, the pair fished a previously undiscovered location, unearthing a weed-lined point that extended out into one of Faust’s many hidden timber laden bays.
“It was a new spot that we found, and it had all the ingredients for success, weed, timber, bait and most importantly active fish”, said Kerrin. With about 3m of water covering the point, the pair bunkered down for the session, tying off on a series of trees and working the area over with Squidgy Slick Rigs.
“We down sized from a 110 to a 100 Slick Rigs and alternated between retrieves before we cracked the pattern and found the one that worked”, explained Cy.
The gun approach proved to be one of the simplest and easiest to apply, casting the Slick Rig tight to the weed edge and slow rolling it back to the boat. The lure itself wasn’t as clear-cut, with the true blue coloured soft plastic modified with the addition of a single treble-armed stinger hook. When quizzed post victory on their choice and use of the lure the boys were forthcoming with their train of thought. Kerrin explained, “We fished a 110 Slick Rig on day one and while we got a lot of hits we couldn’t manage to get the fish to take the lure well enough to get the hook-ups and the fish in the boat. So we down sized to the smaller 100 on day two and started catching fish”.
The tackle used by the AFC angling pair included a 6’4” Millerods Hi Roller rod, Shimano Calais DC reel, spooled with 20lb Fins line, and 80lb Black Magic leader.
With the northern leg of the Daiwa BARRA Tour now complete the pair are on a high and feeling confident heading into the three southern events, especially following a successful AFC campaign on the two southern waterways only a month prior.
“We spent quite a bit of time fishing Awoonga and Monduran and feel we have good insight into what might be in store for us when we hit the two dams. So hopefully we can hit the ground running and continue the good form we had at Faust”, said the barra brothers.
The Daiwa Big Barra title eclipsed the magic metre mark, with Bowen angler Michael Myers claiming the prize with his 120cm specimen.
“I picked up the fish just after 7am when it ate a Squidgy 110 Slick Rig in about 90ft of water”, said Myers.
The capture was textbook, with Myers sounding the fish in deepwater then dropping the plastic down to it, where it surprisingly ate it.
“There were plenty of suspended fish near the dam wall, all of them bar this one showed no interest in what we had to offer”, added Myers.
The prize winning fish took the lure about 6ft from the surface, intercepting the lure as it free fell towards the bottom.
“The fish were suspended about 20ft down and this guy must have followed the lure to the surface on a previous retrieve and had been sitting there waiting for it to come by again”, said Myers.
Shimano Peter Faust Results
Australian Fishing Championship angler Cy Taylor continued his successful year by claiming a convincing victory at the 2008 Awoonga Night Championship on November 23. Compiling a 5/5, 478cm bag for the event, Taylor was able to replicate his 2007 victory, easily beating his nearest competitor by 118cm.
Due to a severe weather warning the tournament start was pushed back to allow safe conditions for competitors. So it was an early 4am when 46 teams of competitors set out to contest the tournament on the waters of Lake Awoonga.
Fishing with his brother, Kerrin Taylor, winner of the previous Peter Faust BARRA round, Cy Taylor targeted a flats area adjacent to the main basin, which was punctuated with standing scattered weed. Fishing in 3m of water Cy presented a 110 Squidgy Slick Rig Pro, alternating between drop bear and blue colours. The technique involved letting the lure sink into the weed, before slow rolling the lure free and slightly lifting the rod tip. The lure would then be left to sink into the weed before recommencing the same procedure.
“Most of the hits came on the initial drop or halfway back to the boat”, explained Cy.
Adapting the Squidgy Slick Rig Pro, firstly by boiling them to make them swim looser, then adding a small treble to the underside as a stinger hook, gave the Taylor brothers confidence to secure the tough bites on offer.
Cy took advantage of an early morning bite period catching four of his five fish limit before 8am. Heading to a nearby point, but with no success, Cy returned to his original spot and captured his fifth fish by 8.20am completing his tournament limit.
When the bites died off the Taylor bothers, fishing as Team Millerod/Shimano, targeted a shallow weedy point behind Dingo Island. Using the sounder the Taylor boys would search for structure in deep water before targeting it with their presentations. Returning to their original spot over the course of the tournament, only Cy’s partner Kerrin was able to catch any further fish. Heading back to the scoring tent Cy was confident he had done what he could to place himself in contention.
“I could relax a little when I caught my fifth fish. Conditions out there were tough, especially with the wind becoming a factor. Returning with five fish over 90cm gave me confidence in being competitive at the end of the tournament,” said Cy.
Cy Taylor used a Millerods Salty Barra rod teamed with a Shimano Curado e5 reel to present his lures. The reel was spooled with 20lb Fins braid and 80lb Black Magic supple trace. When queried on his lighter line choice Cy Taylor explained that the lighter braid was not only easier to cast further but gave improved feel with the finesse style of approach he used in competition. With the results speaking for themselves we may see more anglers adapting this approach in an effort to secure the tournament winning bites.
Cy Taylor also took out the Squidgy Big Barra prize with his 101cm specimen caught on a Squidgy Slick Rig Pro.
Matthew Mott, AFC angler and fishing guide at dams such as Awoonga and Monduran, came in second place with 5/5, 360cm.
Targeting the steeper banks at the mouth of Iveragh Creek and the points between them, Mott used a super slow presentation of a Storm 4” Shad in natural colour with green tail to secure his limit.
Motts game plan was simple, “I just wanted to get my limit, regardless of size”.
Using the wind to drift along the points and banks, Mott would identify potential fishing areas and use his electric motor to stealthily target these areas. Identifying the slow retrieve as the key to gaining bites, Mott was aided by the slow ratio on his baitcast reel.
“The Daiwa Crazy Crank has a 4.9:1 ratio which works great for the slow style of presentation necessary to draw bites in these tough conditions”, said Mott.
Motts choice of tackle used to compile his bag included a G.Loomis MBR 785C IMX 6’6” Heavy rod teamed with a Daiwa 4.9:1 Crazy Crank baitcast reel, spooled with 50lb Berkley Fireline and 60lb Sunline FC Flurocarbon leader.
The Daiwa Big Barra for the event went to Jon Millard, with the 116cm fish being caught at 1pm. Whilst fishing a timbered bay off the main basin, the barramundi was spotted sunning itself in shallow weed at the back of the bay. Using a Storm suspending shad, Millard took his opportunity.
“I sight casted to the barramundi twice. The first time I thought I had spooked it, but the second cast drew the strike. It went around timber before going to the air. I used a soft approach to eventually get it out and into the net”, explained Millard.
The battle for Champion Team was simple for team Millerods/Shimano. With a 9/10, 829cm team bag they outclassed their nearest competitor by 390cm.
Issac Toivanen took out the Daiwa Cap prize collecting a great prize pack from Daiwa for being the first angler back to the tag board wearing his orange Daiwa Cap.
Squidgy Awoonga Night Results
Jock McPherson, a first time angler on the Daiwa BARRA Tour, took out the Awoonga two-day evening event.
Compiling a 5/10, 425cm tournament bag over the competition, Jock targeted a small point between Pig Creek and the dam wall. The point presented as a 4m saddle with deeper water either side. Sitting in around 10ft of water, Jock would cast tight to the edges before commencing his retrieve, punctuated with small jigs. The barramundi would come from the deeper water either side of the saddle to take the presentation.
The money bait was a 100mm Atomic Swim Shad rigged on a Gamakatsu 7/0 Shad head jig in 1/4oz. The belly recess of the shad, made for use with worm hooks, would then be glued together to streamline and strengthen the presentation.
Day one saw Jock catch three barramundi in the session. With the bite period starting at 4.30pm and continuing till 7pm, just as daylight faded, there was approximately half an hour between hook-ups or enquiries.
Day two saw Jock catch a further two fish in a similar bite window. Travelling back to their day one position and commencing with the same presentation, the fish came earlier in the session with only 15-20 minutes between bite times.
Jock explained his choice of tournament location, “We were always trying to identify better structure. We identified this particular area, a shallow spit with deeper hollows each side. When we investigated we found the fish to be sitting or travelling through the deeper water and responsive to our presentations. Not wanting to leave fish to find fish we chose this location and it produced over the two sessions”.
Jock used a Megabass Destroyer Evolution F4 6’6” rod teamed with a Shimano Curado reel spooled with 35 lb Unitika braid and Unitika No 18 leader.
“We found the previous Awoonga Night Championship quite hard. When we commenced the two-day tournament we found active fish that ultimately turned out to be an awesome experience. The goal of all this was to come up and check out the BARRA Tour and have some fun. To win is memorable, and absolutely great”, explains McPherson of his first time and win on the tour.
Coming in second position was Michael Starkey with 5/10, 403cm. The Frogleys Offshore Director used Megabass Vibration X Ultra lipless crankbaits, upgraded with Gamakatsu Treble 14 hooks. Fishing in the same vicinity of tournament victor Jock McPherson, Starkey would work the banks and small points in search of his fish. Finding the fish hiding in the shallows, Starkey would present his lure close to the edge in around 1ft of water. With a slow lift and roll technique the lure would be retrieved over small drop-offs in around 5ft of water before being cast back into the shallows.
“Most of the hits came early and in the shallows. In some ways it was similar to how I fish for bass”, explains Starkey of his technique.
Day two saw Starkey return to his day one location, where he caught a further two fish. The slightly dirtier water prompted Starkey to change to a rattling version of his successful day one lure.
“Whether the rattle made much difference I don’t know, but the choice of deadly black in colour worked well in the conditions.
“For me it was about getting out there and having fun. With the session times being quite long you have to enjoy yourself. Playing some music and sharing a laugh all play their part in keeping the mood up beat and enjoyable”, said Starkey of his relaxed competition demeanour.
Starkey used a Megabass Destroyer Evolution F4 rod teamed with a Megabass Ito Monoblock reel spooled with 35lb Unitika braid and 50lb Unitika leader.
The Daiwa Big Barra went to Cy Taylor with a 120cm bruiser caught in the last session. Caught on a 110mm Squidgy Slick Rig in true blue at around 4pm, this great catch guaranteed Cy of taking out some great prizes courtesy of the tours naming sponsor, Daiwa.
The Berkley Big Barra of 106cm was won by Chris Nagiello. Caught on a Berkley Hollow Belly, Chris took away a great tackle bag filled with different Berkley products.
Berkley Awoonga Evening Results
The final event of the 2008 Daiwa BARRA Tour was held at Lake Monduran on November 29-30. Like the previous two Awoonga events, a record field of 46 teams and 92 anglers took part challenging their skills against the almighty and powerful barramundi.
Cy Taylor showed exactly why he is ranked Australia’s number one BARRA Angler annihilating the opposition and took out the Halco sponsored event. In one of the toughest bite tournaments we have seen, Cy scored 4/10, 397cm, followed by USA angler Mike North 2/10, 191cm.
Taylor armed himself with a Millerod Salty Barra stick matched to a Shimano Calcutta DC spooled with 20lb Fins braid and 80lb Black Magic leader. His lure of choice was the popular Squidgy Slick Rig, opting for the 110mm in evil minnow colour and adding a stinger treble with wire trace.
Travelling to the back of Bay B, the Taylor boys pre-fished the area and found on their Lowrance sounders a weedy point that became a flat under the water. This was in approximately 1.5m of water that dropped off to 11m. Here they found the barra cruising in 3m and, using their slick rigs, caught one and left the area.
Targeting laydowns and the stray timber on this flat Cy boated two fish on day one and two on the final day, commenting that he had lost another couple of fish well over a metre.
“I have learnt a lot over the course of the year,” he said. “Kerrin and I have built on our experience in AFC fishing with Tim [Morgan] and Motty when fishing these southern dams,” said Cy.
Switched on and fishing non stop over the session times, the Taylor boys seem to have the knack of working the Squidgy Slick Rigs to the barra’s liking, mixing it up with pauses and faster retrieves. Their effort scored them Southern Team of the Year (299/300), and Overall Team AOY by amassing a virtually flawless 399/400 scorecard.
Enjoying his time on the tour and picking up his first pay cheque in Australia was American Basser Mike North. Fishing with Dave Robinson the pair targeted a large weed bed at the bottom end of the dam.
North used a Nitro rod matched to a Shimano Chronarch with 30lb Jigger braid and 80lb leader. Anchoring upwind, the pair would punch out long casts to the perimeter of the weed and attempt to get the cruising barra to bite.
Day one saw North land his fish on a Squidgy Slick Rig in black gold colour, rigged with a stinger treble and a chartreuse dipped tail.
“I would let the plastic sink to the bottom and slow roll it back to the boat,” he explained.
Overcoming the iconic barra bust offs, North headed to his spot on day two armed with a green B52 hardbody.
“Mike Connolly handed me this lure and said he had been getting plenty of bites on it,” commented North. Slow rolling it back from the weed bed, it certainly performed, and North soon had a fish boated that cemented his second place.
“This is a tough circuit fishing all hours, days and nights. To hook a fish is testing and then to land it becomes a challenge. I had a 50% catch rate,” said North.
“I can’t thank enough the support of the guys here. I extend a welcome to any of them who wish to come over to the US for a fish,” he added.
In this Halco sponsored event it seemed only fitting that Trevor Cassidy landed the event’s Big Barra of 121cm on a RMG Scorpion 125 XDD in five fin colour. Fishing a weedy point in 4m of water, Cassidy threw tight to the weed and gave the lure a fast crank down, several twitches and then a pause allowing a lure to rise. And it was enough to tempt the XOS fish and score him fifth place, a $400 cheque and multitude of prizes.
With 20 separate anglers landing fish, it was reassuring to see several under 50cm specimens caught and released. The $250 stocking donation from ABT to MASA will again help to ensure these great sports fish are around for future generations.
On the completion of the southern leg of the tour, a fantastic trophy was awarded to the Southern AOY and Individual AOY. Cy Taylor won these prestigious awards convincingly and ensured he kept the title for the second year running. On top of this he takes home an Engel 45L Fridge/Freezer and Engel SHX1000 Generator.
Halco Monduran Morning Results
|2||Mike North (USA)||1||92||1||99||2||191||$900|
The format of the events were catch and release, lure and fly only, and competitors were able to fish for themselves and fish for their teams.
Once an angler caught a barra, they would take a digital photo on the supplied brag mat and release the fish. They would then fill out the catch sheet and their best five fish would count towards their total. One point is awarded per centimetre of barra.
ABT would like to thank all sponsors and competitors for making the Daiwa BARRA Tour so successful and look forward to another bigger and better year in 2009. For further information visit www.australianbarra.com.au or ph 07 3387 0888 during business hours.
BARRA TOUR EARNINGS
BARRA TOUR RANKINGS
INDIVIDUAL OVERALL AOY
TEAM OVERALL AOY
|1||Millerods/Shimano||Kerrin Taylor||Cy Taylor||91||100||100||99||100||399|
|2||Gamakatsu||Simon Barkhuizen||Glyn Barkhuizen||94||90||94||89||95||373|
|3||Shimano Etec||Jason Wilhelm||Alan McNamara||100||91||91||90||85||372|
|4||Little Stiffy||Jon Millard||Trent Power||92||99||92||66||87||370|
|5||Gulpin Xraps||Jason Crofts||Isaac Toivanen||99||97||67||92||73||361|