Daiwa BARRA Tour Southern Series
  |  First Published: December 2007

Awoonga Night Championship

The Awoonga Night Championship kicked off the Daiwa BARRA tour southern leg on Sat 24 November. To fish from 4pm through the night till 8am is a great test of endurance and mental stamina, especially if the prized barra are illusive. But for the young seasoned pro, Cy Tyler, it proved to be another great result scoring 5/5 fish for 508cm.

The technique involved slowly moving around the weedy banks. The moon was bright and it allowed the Taylor boys to see and target features along the weed like gaps in the weed bed, broken weed bed and anything that stood out from the normal contour of the weed edge.

Knowing that the Awoonga barra usually hold in these spots and wait for bait to pass by, Cy chose to use the new 110cm Squidgy Slick Rid lights in the evil minnow and green grunter colours. Casting the new Pro Range plastics close to these areas and using a jig, jig, jig, sink retrieve, he was able to land four barra over a metre and one 85cm specimen to fill his bag and convincingly take first place.

The gear used to heave these beasts into the yellow Millerods tinny was a Millerod Salty Barra Camoufish Long Cast with a Shimano Chronarch 50MG reel spooled with 25lb Super Lunker orange braid and 80lb Black Magic leader.

“A nice light outfit that is easy to continually cast throughout the night when the arms are tiring,” Cy said.

To compel the problems of getting metre plus barra into the boat, at 1am the Taylor boys were standing in water that had filled up over the floorboards from a small leak in the boat.

“We would take turns in bailing water out as the other fished,” Cy explained.


Fishing with AFC Pro Harry Watson was Heath Craven and managing to pip him on the scorecards by a centimetre landing 5/5 fish for 487cm.

Craven used a G.Loomis Crankbait 756 and Daiwa Crazy Cranker spooled with 40lb Stren braid and 80lb Jinkai leader. Choosing to throw a combination of Squidgy Slick Rigs Pro Range 110cm in the drop bear colour and Berkley 5” Mullet in the holographic gold colour fitted with a custom treble rig under the plastic for extra security.

“I fished the submerged weed in the main basin, swimming the plastics as slow as possible,” Craven said.

“I scored seven fish from seven hits, two hitting the lure four feet from the boat. A lesson learnt is never to give up on the retrieve until the lure is in the boat,” he continued.

Big BARRA for the event was a tied effort of 118cm. Kerrin Taylor was not to be outshined by his twin scoring some accolades using the Slick Rig technique between taking his turn at bailing.

Steve Morgan scored the other beast, his new personal best. Fishing a weedy point at the mouth of the Riverston Arm the fish inhaled a 110cm Squidgy Slick Rig in drop bear colour at 11.30pm.

With two more events on the Southern leg it was a great start to the Taylor boys reign over the Barra Tour. One that has now seen them become accomplished AFC winners.


PlaceAnglerTotal FishTotal Length (cm)
1Cy Taylor5508
2Heath Craven5487
3Harry Watson5486
4Kerrin Taylor4436
5Kerry Ehrlich4364
Strader Steals Squidgy Show

Visiting USA bass angler Phil Strader claimed one of the most prized crowns on the Daiwa BARRA Tour by securing victory in the second event on the southern tour, the Squidgy Lake Awoonga Evening event.

For the 42 year old bass pro from Oregon it was a dream start to tournament barra fishing. With only three days of barra fishing under his belt Strader compiled 7/10, 620cm limit to beat a field of talented and experienced barra tournament anglers.

Partnered with Mike Connolly for the tournament, Strader fished the middle reaches of the lake east of Dingo Island, working a channel of water that lead into an expansive weedbed.

“It was a run that was about 12-14 feet deep,” explained Strader.

“It was fairly featureless other than the occasional sunken tree, and produced fish along its whole length,” he added.

Drifting his way along the channel Strader used the Squidgy Slick Rig to tempt his fish. Locating the fish with his sounder he would make long, down wind casts before allowing the lure to sink to the bottom and beginning the retrieve.

The number of lost, rubbed off and jumped off fish was classic barra fishing as Phil explains.

“The first night wasn’t too bad when it came to lost fish, but night two was just ridiculous. I landed two and dropped nine. Right from the outset it was one of those days, with fish jumping off, bricking me on sunken trees, rubbing through the leader of simply jumping and throwing the lure. It was downright frustrating”.

The final outcome however was all positive for the USA bass angler, with a combination of local knowledge from partner Mike Connolly and a sound understanding of fish behaviour from his years of largemouth bass fishing in the states delivering him victory.

The arsenal of tackle used for victory included an 6’6” Angler Rods Stealth DXC 784 rod, Daiwa Zillion reel (ratio 6.3:1), spooled with 50lb Sunline Jigger PE and 80lb Sunline nylon leader. While the go-to lure was a 110mm Squidgy Slick Rig in black and gold colour.

Hot on Strader’s heals in second place was inagural BARRA round winner and Awoonga local Jason Wilhelm. Fishing a topwater bite for the duration of the tournament Wilhelm fished a shallow football sized weedbed near Dingo Island.

Located in 2-4 feet of water and with weed extending all the way to the surface Wilhelm used a weedless rigged soft plastic frog fished across the top of the weed to score his fish. Making long wind assisted casts he retrieved his lure with a medium paced burn, swimming it across the surface and through the scattered strings of weed laying on the surface.

The takes were brutal with fish detonating on the lure, and either taking to the air in a frantic aerial display or powering away through the weed like a submarine. In contrast to many topwater bites Wilhelm’s was just as productive during daylight hours as at night.

Wilhelm’s choice of tackle included a 7’ Shimano T-Curve Power Spin rod, Shimano Stella 4000 reel, spooled with 20lb Daiwa Sensor braid and 80lb Gallis mono leader. His lure of choice was a Zoom Horny Toad (colour- white or green) rigged on a 1/32 oz 6/0 TT worm hook.

Post victory Wilhelm was more than willing to explain how he cracked the topwater toad pattern.

“I knew I needed to find unpressured fish and use a technique that was different to what most of the field was using”, explained Wilhelm.

“Once we found the location, Craig with the help of Phil (Strader) and Gary (Boyd) found the lure that was right for the job, a Zoom Horny Toad”.

From there on in it was a match made in heaven with the topwater toad producing fish in a location where most lures would simply foul up on weed.

The Go-So Big Barra prize was claimed by the 2007 Northern BARRA AOY Champ Matt Coleman, who secured the prize with his 112cm specimen caught on day one.


PlaceAnglerTotal FishTotal Length (cm)
1Phil Strader (USA) 7620
2Jason Wilhelm 7614
3Nigel Webster 7593
4Mike Connolly 7586
5Craig Simmons 7580
Halco Monduran Barra Event

The Halco Monduran Barra event held on Dec 1/2 was the final event for the Daiwa BARRA Tour in 2007. For some anglers there was a lot riding on this event, valuable points for Southern Angler of the Year and Overall AOY, as well as the last chance for those who had not yet troubled the scorers to catch a fish or five.

With a hot bite leading up to the event, it was unfortunate that a cold front approached and shut down the fickle barra. Lake Monduran lived up to its reputation as ‘Lake Misery’ as many frustrated anglers returned to the key tag board fishless.

Only 21 anglers landed fish over the two day event with the best going to Scott McAuley. He caught his winning bag on the first morning with 2/10 fish for 216cm.

Scott used a G.Loomis GL2 matched to a Daiwa Blue Bay Backer reel spooled with 50lb Jigman braid and a twisted leader of 60lb Sunline fluorocarbon. His lure of choice was a 10ft Classic in guns n roses colour modified with tungsten sticky weight and upgraded Owner trebles.

“I use the sticky weight to suspend the lure in their face and leave it there for them to eat,” McAuley explained.

Cruising to part B of the dam, Scott found a 25ft creek that spread into a bay with shallow flats. Normally the shallow flats have warmer water that will hold the barra, but the weather conditions meant that he instead started at the entrance on the creek.

Scott’s partner was up the front of the boat on the electric and had five casts at a large submerged tree with numerous spindly branches before moving. Scott at the back of the boat now had a chance to hit the same target and with a vicious crank down of the lure right into the tree branches he hooked up to the event’s Big BARRA of 114cm.

“I think as the barra weren’t biting, Trevor had stirred the big girl up,” he said.

“It pays to persist and keep the lure suspended down there,” he continued.

Looking for similar structure, McAuley continued the technique of cranking the lure down till it hit a branch then simply moved the rod tip with a three inch jiggle to move the lure whilst suspended. It paid dividends for him as he soon had his second metre plus fish hooked.

“I tighten my drag and go hard on the barra,” McAuley explained.

“I don’t let them take line, I simply bounce them around and into the net. It is generally hard on the trebles, bending a few but they most often hold until the fish is landed,” he continued.

This ‘go hard’ technique is definitely tough on tackle, as the hooked barra shake their heads and twist the lure. McAuley finds quite often his hardbodies split up the seams and fill with water.

Runner up

Second place went to QFM writer Jason Ehrlich, scoring 2/10 fish for 166cm. He armed himself with a Berkley Dropshot 6’6” 6-12kg rod and Abu Revo SX baitcaster reel spooled with 50lb Stren braid and 60lb Vanish leader.

“I find the Vanish holds up well on the barra’s tough mouths and the snags around Monduran,” Ehrlich commented.

Using a 22g Trollcraft lipless crankbait, Ehrlich described his pre-fish.

“I removed the points off the trebles, so I would get hits but no hook-ups. I pre-fished really hard and felt confident with the area I had chosen to fish,” he explained.

Making the trip to Middle River between sections I and O, Ehrlich found a snaggy ridge in 4-8ft with deepwater either side.

Casting out the lipless crankbait he counted to four before a steady retrieve where he could feel the vibration of the lure working through the rod tip. Using a few small stop-starts in the retrieve was enough to allow the barra to inhale the bait. Upgrading the trebles to Owner ST66 hooks and heavy wire split rings allowed him to pull hard on the fish and, like McAuley, never gave too much drag.

That concludes another successful year in the ABT. The Tournament Angler Guide is soon to be rolling off the printers and will be delivered to all members in the new year. Look out for a copy at all good newsagencies and check out the 2008 Tournament calendar. – ABT


PlaceAnglerTotal FishTotal Length (cm)
1Scott McAuley2216
2Jason Ehrlich2166
3Simon Barkhuizen2133
4Kevin Hulse1109
5Simon Goldsmith1108

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