The 2014 Rapala BARRA Tour was one for the ages, highlighted by good angler attendance and red-hot fishing across all 3 events. The BARRA Tour visited the quality impoundments of Teemburra Dam, Kinchant Dam and Peter Faust Dam to determine which team would take out top honors. In the end, it was a tight race that went down to the wire with 8 teams in contention right up until the final session. Let’s take a look at the winners of each event and who took out the 2014 Team of the Year.
Team BTD Lures (Benn Durkin and Matt McArthur) compiled a 10/10, 763cm total to secure out the first event of the 2014 Rapala BARRA Tour, the N.S Black Hole Teemburra Dam evening event. McArthur, a 35 year old Sarina local who works as a serviceman and an Emergency Service Officer in the local mines teamed with Durkin, a 35 year old cane harvest operator, to make the best possible start to the 2014 Rapala BARRA Tour.
Team BTD identified several spots during the pre-fish including a number of upgrade locations that held bigger fish. McArthur explains the team’s key location and approach.
“We opted to fish a long shallow lily pad point which was surrounded by heavy standing timber, on the south western side of the dam. The point had a consistent amount of wind and current blowing up onto it and around the surrounding area. There was immense amount of bait in and around the target zones and a steady to continuous amount of barra flooding through,” he said. “We fished the area opposite to most, placing the boat on the point in just 4ft of water and casting our lures into the wind. We opted to use Samaki Vibelicious in gold glitter and lime orange colours and 110mm and 130mm Sqidgy Slick Rigs in black and gold. On both the Samaki vibelicious and the Sqidgy Slick Rigs we retro fitted them with Gamakatsu Treble 14, size 4 for the Samaki Vibes and size 2 for the Sqidgy Slick Rigs. We combined the Slick Rig and Gamakatsu trebles with the ultra tough TT Area 51 jighead in 1oz and 3/4oz. We decided on the Gamakatsu treble for Teemburra, as the fish class was a little bit smaller and we preferred the better penetration on hook set with the Gamakatsu.”
Due to the heavy timber in the location and small area around the boat, BTD Lures were limited to 3 main casting angles. Casting their lures into 10ft of water, the team would slow roll and hop their presentations back to the boat. The barramundi, which were identified as travelling with the current, were attacking the lures in about 5-6ft of water.
Given the rough country the team employed a no holds barred approach to hooking and landing barramundi.
“We needed a heavy-handed approach with the fish as the strike area and first jump zone was at the edge of the arena near the boat. So we fought the fish like a pair of American Bass pros on steroids, as it was extremely important to win the battle at the first jump. We successfully did this with half the fish we caught and luckily it was enough,” McArthur said.
Ultimately, 22 of the 28 teams landed fish at the Teemburra event. An impressive 128 barramundi were recorded in total, with an average size of 73.27cm. These figures illustrate a dramatic increase in the overall number of barramundi and average size since 2013, and earmark Teemburra as a premier barramundi impoundment.
The event Big Barra was caught in the second session by Red Rockets and measured a whopping 118cm.
“In my opinion, the best key points you can have before entering any tournament is to have a belief in yourself, your partner and your pre-fish results. With a good attitude and confidence in you ability, the results will come. Finally, I believe that you need a good vibe on the boat, and having fun is a must to enjoy your fishing because winning is not everything.”
Rods: G Loomis SJR 844 IMX spin stick, G Loomis CBR 756 casting rod, G Loomis CR 724 IMX casting rod, Temple Fork signature series SWS 764 7’6” 6-12lb
Reels: Daiwa Certate 3000, Daiwa Tatula type R 100 H
Line: S.A.S Tasline all white 30lb braid line, Sunline Super Braid 5
Leader: YGK Galis 60lb fluorocarbon leader, Jinki Plus 80lb
Terminal: TT Area 51 jigheads, Lethal lures Magnum Hypo head weedless rig
Lures: Squidgy Slick Rigs 100mm/130mm sizes black & gold colour, Samaki Vibelicious 100mm vibes, Smith Saruna 147, BTD hand made timber lures
Team BTD Lures (Benn Durkin and Matt McArthur) backed up their great start to the 2014 Rapala BARRA Tour with victory at the following event, the Rapala Kinchant Dam Night Championship. The team had taken victory at the same event in 2013, and demonstrated their knowledge and experience of Kinchant Dam by compiling a remarkable 5/5, 560cm total.
McArthur explains the team’s key location and approach.
“After winning the Kinchant Night Championship last year we knew that we would have to have another big bag to try and go back to back winners. We thought that we would need to have over 5m of fish to be in with a chance. Despite having several hot spots up our sleeve, we again concentrated on last year’s winning location, which surprisingly we had to ourselves,” he said. “The location is a great big fish area and has a constant flow of current, bait and fish on it throughout the different bite times – ideal for what we were looking for. The area we targeted was the underwater ridges and edges of a creek like area well away from the weed edges that surrounded the dam. We knew from years of experience on the dam that in the 16 hours that lay ahead we should definitely get our limit, which hopefully would have some meter+ fish amongst the mix.”
The team both started with the trusted 130mm Squidgy Slick Rig in black and gold colour rigged with full weight Area 51 jigheads combined with an Owner ST66TN treble. They were rewarded early with a 119cm barramundi hitting the deck and giving the team the start they were looking for.
The team knew that they would need to present different lures to secure the bites on offer and identified key tidal bite times where the barramundi were receptive. Using a number of homemade lures (BTD Lures by Benn Durkin), specifically the BTD General in the standard bib and the deep, the team went about adding to their catch sheet.
“Matt and I have been developing some new barra lures over the last few years. The bibs were ideal for triggering bites off the deep edges throughout the night,” Durkin explained.
Team BTD Lures continued through the session landing several mid-90cm barramundi and, all importantly, larger upgrades including a 122cm model caught on a hand-crafted 20ft General in white chartreuse back. This was backed up with a 114cm fish at 2am and a 107cm fish with an hour to go in the session.
“After the 122cm we truly felt we had a good chance of a back to back win, and with Benn running hot we were pretty pumped up. I managed to upgrade several 90cm fish to just under the 1m mark and threw in a good barra with an hour to go to amass a massive bag that kept us on track for the Team of the Year trophy,” McArthur said.
In the end, Kinchant Dam produced the goods with 21 of 26 teams catching barramundi during the tournament. In total 89 fish were recorded for an 8406 cm total. The average fish size was a staggering 94.45cm, showcasing the number and quality of barramundi available at this Mackay hotspot.
The event Big Barra was a tie that needed to be decided by a count back. Ultimately, the 122cm barramundi for Team Toray took out the win. The lure used was a 130 mm Squidgy Slick Rig in black gold colour (tail dyed orange) fitted with a belly stinger hook.
Experience on Kinchant Dam and choice of location were the key factors in the team’s victory.
Rods: G. Loomis SJR 844 IMX spin stick, G. Loomis CBR 756 casting rod, G. Loomis CR 724 IMX casting rod, Temple Fork signature series SWS 764 7’6” 6-12lb, G. Loomis 6’6” IMX 10-20lb casting rod
Reels: Daiwa Certate 3000, Daiwa Tatula type R 100 H, Daiwa Tatula 100
Line: S.A.S Tasline all white 30lb braid line, Sunline Super Braid 5, Suffix 832 30lb
Leader: YGK Galis 60lb fluorocarbon leader, Jinki Plus 80lb
Terminal: TT Area 51 jigheads, Lethal lures Magnum Hypo head weedless rig
Lures: Squidgy slick rigs 100mm/130mm sizes black & gold colour, Samaki Vibelicious 100mm vibes, Smith Saruna 147, BTD hand made timber lures
Team Bass Mafia/Rapala (Jon Millard and Ethan Farrell) took out the final event of the 2014 Rapala BARRA Tour at Peter Faust Dam. The team compiled a 9/10, 884cm total to comprehensively take the win by over 300cm. The team were well placed after the first session, but it was their 5/5, 515cm total in a tough session two that saw them decimate their fellow teams.
Jon Millard, a 30 year old refrigerator mechanic and Ethan Farrell, a 23 year old engineering student, had good form heading into the Peter Faust event with a win at an invitational event at Peter Faust Dam one month prior.
Millard shared his pre-fish analysis with us.
“During the pre-fish, the wind was predominantly blowing from the southeast. The fish were tending to congregate in one area. When the event started, the wind swung around and started to blow from the north. In turn the fish spread out and the pattern immediately changed, he explained.”
The team found their fish in a variety of locations, with the majority being caught from the northern end of the dam. The key areas were weedy points where the team found fish in 15-20ft of water.
“Due to the higher water temperature, the fish were actually sitting off the points rather than holding tight. I believe they were looking for the cooler, more temperate water. Bait and fish would come through at regular intervals,” Millard explained.
The team, by their own admission, weren’t confident heading into the first session, but gradually began to recognise how the fish were behaving and identify what lures they would respond to.
“We found that most of the fish were coming in the daylight hours. From sundown to the end of the session it was very much a dead patch for us. In the first session it was a bite every hour. Come the second session when we felt we had the fish figured out, that became a bite every 20 minutes,” Millard said.
The key lures for the team were the ever reliable 130mm Squidgy Slick Rig in black gold colour and the Strike King Shadalicious in a variety of colours. The Squidgy Slick Rig was retro fitted with a TT Area 51 jigheads in 3/4-1oz and VMC treble size 2 6x stinger hook on the belly. The tail was trimmed to maximise vibration and dyed chartreuse in colour.
“The retrieve was varied with the Squidgy Slick Rigs but with the Strike King was kept to a slow roll. These lures vibrate at a low speed, which the fish really responded well to,” Millard explained.
The event Big Barra was a 122cm behemoth caught by Colin Brett of Team Dobyn’s/Lucky Craft.
“The key was to move around and adapt to the conditions. Sitting and targeting solely one area wasn’t delivering the results necessary to finish in the placing’s.”
Rods: ACM Barracaster and Hinchinbrook, Megabass
Reels: Daiwa Tatula, Shimano Calais and Metanium
Line: Suffix 832 20lb-30lb
Leader: YGK Galis 50lb-60lb fluorocarbon leader
The overall biggest barramundi caught on the 2014 BARRA Tour was a 122cm fish caught by Neil Wilson at the Rapala Kinchant Dam Night Championship. This was the first of 3 122cm barramundi caught during the BARRA Tour, with the others caught at Kinchant Dam and Peter Faust. Team BTD Lures kindly donated a hand carved, boxed set of 3 lures to the winner in recognition of the largest overall fish caught during the 2014 Rapala BARRA Tour.
Team BTD Lures (Benn Durkin and Matt McArthur) took out the most prestigious award of the 2014 Rapala BARRA Tour, the overall Team of the Year. BTD Lures put themselves in the box seat from the outset with victories in the first two events at Teemburra and Kinchant Dams. A tougher bite at Peter Faust Dam saw the team fall down the standings after the first session, potentially resulting in the team being overtaken by competitors sitting a mere 4 points behind. However, the team quickly regathered and caught the fish to rocket them into overall third place at the event, and securing the team their first Team of the Year title.
Benn Durkin shared his thoughts on capturing the 2014 TOY title.
“I am very proud of what Matt and I have achieved since returning to the ABT circuit. After having 2 years off with family and financial difficulties we were both looking forward to the challenge. I believe that a steadfast dedication to barra fishing over the years has given us the ability and resolve needed to compete at this level of competition. It is an honour and a privilege to compete against such great ABT anglers that live and breathe barra fishing. I cannot say enough about the other competitors in the barra scene. These guys are all great people willing to share info and techniques and are the first to help out when needed,” Durkin said.
“After having 2 years off due to financial difficulties, and to come back with our 4 best results over 2 years, I’d have to say I’m pretty proud to achieve these results considering the calibre of anglers on the tour. A massive thanks to my team mate Benn Durkin for coming aboard to make this all possible and also to my family and partner for giving me the time on the water I need to be competitive,” McArthur added.
“I would like to thank my team mate and good friend Matt McArthur for taking the time out away from his family to fish these events. I realise it is a major commitment, both financial and personally, to get away and fish these tournaments. As we always say we don’t do anything by half, but having fun and enjoying the time spent on the water barra fishing both social and tournament is always a highlight of the year and remains a key focus. To my wife, I would like to thank you for putting up with my obsession and understanding my drive when it comes to barra fishing, you have always supported my decisions even when they were questionable. Finally I would like to recognise all the dedicated barra anglers who attend the tournaments. Without your support and attitude these events would not be the great time that they are,” Durkin said.
|BTD Lures||Benn Durkin, Matt McArthur||298|
|Nomad Tackle/Hydrowave||Ken Elliot, William Rechaird||295|
|Toray||Geoff Newby, Neil Wilson||291|
|Bass Mafia Outdoors/Rapala||Jon Millard, Ethan Farrel,||289|
|Minnkota-Toray||Justin Welsh, Cameron Johnson||285|
|Humminbird/EJ Todd||Craig Griffiths, Karim DeRidder||282|
|Team Power||Trent Power, Donovan Power||278|
|Lowrance/Edge Rods||Patrick Morgan, Jarrod Dalton||272|
|Touchin Cloth||Ben Wilcox, Matt Zahl||271|
|Lowrance-Reidy’s Lures||Peter Price, Aaron Dial||269|