2016 Rapala BARRA Tour wrap up
  |  First Published: January 2016

Rapala was back on board after a very successful 2014 ABT BARRA Tour and in 2015 the anglers and the fish turned out in great numbers. The 2015 Rapala BARRA Tour visited Teemburra Dam and Peter Faust Dam near Proserpine. The scheduled event for Kinchant Dam, with advice from SunWater, was relocated to Teemburra and was a resounding success.

The Team of the Year race was hotly contested like always; let’s take a look at each individual event and who took out the race for Australia’s best barramundi anglers.

Teemburra Dam 2-Day Evening Event

Team Humminbird/EJ Todd (Craig Giffiths and Karim De Ridder) started the Rapala BARRA Tour off in perfect style, amassing a 10/10 limit for 941cm to secure the win and 100 points towards the prestigious Team of the Year (TOY) trophy.

The pair had spent four days pre-fishing for this particular event, identifying key points towards the dam wall where they could see fish holding deeper in 8-10ft of water. The pair looked for these concentrations of fish, and then identified the likely point where the fish would move up to feed in shallower water once the sun had set over the horizon.

Craig noted the wind direction as key to identifying which was going to be the best spot to produce a steady flow of fish as the night wore on.

“You want the wind to be hitting the area you are fishing,” Craig explained. “This produces a small current, and that will concentrate the bait, which in turn will bring the barra to you.”

Using their Humminbird sounder and 360 Imaging, Craig and Karim were able to watch the barra as they moved up onto the point, able to cast ahead of the moving fish.

The pair used a number of lures to secure the victory, most notably the Lucky Craft SKT Magnum 110 MR crankbait. This was definitely the key bait for the pair, with the large crankbait scoring 9/10 fish for the team. Karim was the master of this lure, throwing the behemoth 2oz crankbait on a Lucky Craft 701HXF rod. The specially designed cranking rod, made with a combination of graphite and fibreglass, is softer than most modern day rods. It allows the lure to bounce more easily off structure without hanging up on the bottom. Karim launched the lure towards the shallowest part of the point, and employed a steady slow retrieve back to the boat. When the lure banged the bottom, Karim paused the retrieve, allowing the lure to float. This was when most of the strikes happened.

Craig partnered the aggressive wobbling action of the crankbait with a stealthy soft plastic approach, fishing a modified Squidgy Slick Rig in black/gold. Craig loves to tinker with his lures, and the Slick Rig receives more treatment than any other lure in his tacklebox. You can watch a video on how Craig likes to modify his Slick Rigs on the Fishing Monthly YouTube channel.

Fishing the same point on the eastern side of the dam furthest towards the dam wall both sessions, team Humminbird/EJ Todd were one of only two teams to catch their full 10/10 limit, eclipsing second place team Lowrance HDS (Geoff Bradshaw and Lachlan Achilles) by 67cm.

Overall, 23 teams took part in the first event of the 2015 Rapala BARRA Tour, with 22 teams scoring a total of 102 barramundi over the two event sessions for a healthy total length of 7655cm. This gave an average of 75.05cm, a small increase from the 73.27cm average from the 2014 tour.

The event’s Austackle Big Barra was caught by team Reflexion/Bassman and measured 121cm.

Winning Ways

“Finding the best numbers of fish holding deeper during the day and identifying the point in which they will pull up and feed was key to our success in this event”

Winning Tackle

RodsDobyns Savvy Series 705, Lucky Craft 701HXF
ReelsDaiwa Zillion
LineSunline Super PE 8 30lb
LeaderSunline FC100 60lb
LuresLucky Craft SKT Magnum 110MR, Lucky Craft Pointer 78 DD, Squidgy Slick Rig 130
TerminalsUpgraded to Decoy Y-W77 on Pointer 78 DD, custom made jighead with Gamakatsu SL12 #8/0 or #9/0 for Squidgy Slick Rig, with Decoy YS-21 #1 stinger.

Teemburra Results

PlaceTeamAngler 1Angler 2TL (cm)Prize
1Humminbird/EJ ToddCraig GriffithsKarim De Ridder941$800 + Prize Pack
2Lowrance HDSGeoff BradshawLachlan Achilles876$700 + Prize Pack
3Triton Boats/Edge RodsRick NapierDustin Sippel828$500+ Prize Pack
4Reflexion/BassmanDan CurryAsh Sims488$300 + Prize Pack
5Team PowerDonovan PowerTrent Power466
6Skeeter/WestinPaul ButlerGreg Thomas424
7Team TorayWally WiltonJake Mitchell423
8Barra FeverGlen SmithKeith Stanford383
9Likely LadsGeoff NewbyPhill Lyons377
10Lowrance/Reidy's LuresPeter PriceDan Grech353
Sunline Teemburra Night Championship

Securing the Austackle Big Barra prize in the first two-day evening event, team Reflexion/Bassman (Ashley Sims and Dan Curry) found the numbers they lacked in the first event to claim the win in the Sunline presented Teemburra Dam Night Championship, the second stop of the 2015 Rapala ABT BARRA Tour.

Arguably the toughest event on the BARRA Tour, the Sunline Night Championship sees teams start fishing at 4pm, and continue fishing for 16 hours through the night, until 8am the following morning. A true test of endurance, patience and skill, team Reflexion/Bassman came out on top with a 5/5 limit for 486cm.

Modifying their approach from the previous event, Ash and Dan focused on one area of the dam, on the western side of the dam wall on a main lake point with standing timber. However, it wasn’t the main point that the boys keyed in on, it was a secondary point inside the standing timber that proved to be the key spot.

The pair found the spot using Humminbirds’ AutoChart Live software, mapping the area on pre-fish day. The pair started the night on the outside edge of the timber, having only a few small fish on their score sheet they decided to move inside the timbered area and enjoyed almost immediate success.

Second cast inside the timber and Ashley hooked the team’s kicker fish, a 116cm barramundi anchoring their impressive 5/5 limit.

Again, the winning team relied on a multiple lure approach, not relying on only one style of lure to take the title.

The ever-popular Squidgy Slick Rig in True Blue colour was again a favourite, and received some modifications in the shape of a #4 Owner stinger hook, which was connected through the belly of the lure using crimped heavy monofilament line. The technique for the Slick Rig was fairly straightforward. Ash and Dan worked as a team, with one using the larger 5000 size reel to burn the Slick Rig enticing a reaction bite, while the other used the smaller 4000 size reel and used a slow roll retrieve to cover both bases.

The other piece to the puzzle was a Jackall Transam 95, this time opting for a dark colour, to imitate red claw, which they had observed being regurgitated by some of the barramundi they were landing.

Using the Down Imaging of their Humminbird ONIX unit, the pair was able to clearly see the barramundi as the fish moved underneath their boat. On multiple occasions, team Reflexion/Bassman was able to sink the Transam under the boat and tempt those fish as they moved through. The technique was a simple long slow draw off the bottom to feel the lure vibrate, and then let the lure sink back on a semi slack line. The team noted all the bites were taken as the lure was falling back to the bottom.

Fishing the lures on a variety of Millerods paired with Shimano reels, Ash and Dan favour 20 and 30lb PowerPro SuperSlick braided line with a heavy fluorocarbon leader of around 50lb.

At the end of the marathon 16 hour session, 18 of the 19 teams competing scored barramundi, with 16 completing their full 5/5 session limit. In total 84 barramundi were scored for a total combined length of 6096cm, an average length of 72.57cm.

The events Austackle Big Barra was a 122cm behemoth, caught by team Tree Huggers (Mick Weick and Brendan Barnett)

Winning Ways

“Sticking to our plan was the big key for us in this event, we panicked and moved around too much in the evening event. We knew the big fish were in this spot and we stuck it out in the all nighter.”

Winning Tackle

RodsMillerods Beast Buster Medium-Light, Millerods Salty Barra, Millerods Toad
ReelsShimano Biomaster 2500, Shimano Biomaster 4000, Shimano Sustain 5000, Shimano Core 100MG
Line20lb PowerPro Super Slick, 30lb PowerPro Super Slick
LeaderSunline FC100 50lb and 60lb
LuresSquidgy Slick Rig 130 true blue, Jackall Transam 95 ghost black/red belly
TerminalsUpgraded to Mustad #4 on Transam 95. Added Owner #4 ST-36BC treble as stinger on Slick Rig

Night Championship Results

PlaceTeamAngler 1Angler 2TL (cm)Prize
1Reflexion/BassmanDan CurryAsh Sims486$725 + Prize Pack
2Humminbird/EJ ToddCraig GriffithsKarim De Ridder469$625 + Prize Pack
3Triton Boats/Edge RodsRick NapierDustin Sippel463$425 + Prize Pack
4Tree HuggersMick WeickBrendan Barnett443$225 + Prize Pack
5Lowrance HDSGeoff BradshawLachlan Achilles425
6Master CabinetsGlen BoysMatthew Manley394
7Fired UpMat McFarlaneShane Clarke372
8Fishing Monthly GroupSteve MorganTom Slater346
9Team TorayWally WiltonJakeMitchell341
10Skeeter/WestinPaul ButlerGreg Thomas339
STORM Peter Faust Event

Peter Faust Dam near Proserpine was the last stop of the 2015 Rapala ABT BARRA Tour, and again it showed why it is one of the premier barramundi fisheries in Australia. Records were broken and champions crowned, as Team Humminbird/EJ Todd (Craig Giffiths and Karim De Ridder) again stood on the podium and claimed their second win of the 2015 BARRA Tour.

Compiling an ABT record 10/10 limit for 1102cm, Team Humminbird/EJ Todd smashed the six-year standing record of 1010cm by almost a metre.

Fishing a main lake point known as Faust Point, the pair worked a lot wider than most, which was key to finding the big barramundi.

Faust Point is a long shallow point extending a long way into the main lake on the southern edge of the dam. Emergent vegetation was visible in depths shallower than 7ft, but Craig and Karim focused on the deeper water in 10-12ft. They anchored their boat a long way off the visible weed, targeting the edge where the weed started and stopped.

Focusing on a bite time just before the sun went down, the pair relied solely on soft plastics to claim the title. Using a variety over the course of the two sessions, the team emphasised that size was an important part of their winning tactic. They opted for lures of at least 6” in length, and sometimes even threw lures as large as 9” to get the bite from the bigger barramundi. Squidgy 170 Slick Rigs, Berkley Swim Shads and Storm R.I.P. Shads were some of their go-to baits.

Casting to the deeper weed, the pair counted their lures down to three seconds, the perfect time to put their lures just above the weed on the bottom. With their lures ticking the top of the weed, the pair flicked them free when they felt the weed, and kept in contact as the lure sank back down to the required depth.

The team preferred baitcast tackle for this approach, noting the extra control they had when using the tackle. Dobyns Savvy series baitcast rods were the choice, with the right blend of bottom end power and sensitive tip to allow the barramundi to inhale the lures for solid hook sets.

Peter Faust showed why it was the perfect venue to conclude the 2015 Rapala BARRA Tour, with 95 fish hitting the brag mats over the course of the two sessions, a whopping 95.54cm average. The event’s Austackle Big Barra was caught by team Swamp Donkey’s Rhyce Bullimore and measured 122cm.

Winning Ways

“We fished a bit wider of the main visible weed, where we could see barra moving through on the down-imaging of my Humminbird Onix. We used bigger lures as the night wore on; the lack of light with the new moon meant we needed a bigger profile for the fish to key in on.”

Winning Tackle

RodsDobyns Savvy Series 705
ReelsDaiwa Zillion
LineSunline Super PE 8 30lb
LeaderSunline FC100 60lb
LuresBerkley Swim Shad, Storm R.I.P. Shad, Squidgy 170 Slick Rig, Strike King Shadalicious
TerminalsDecoy YS-21 stinger on all soft plastics, modified jigheads with swivel to hang stinger

Peter Faust Results

PlaceTeamAngler 1Angler 2TL (cm)Prize
1Humminbird/EJ ToddCraig GriffithsKarim De Ridder1102$775 + Prize Pack
2Likely LadsGeoff NewbyPhill Lyons975675 + Prize Pack
3Skeeter/WestinPaul ButlerGreg Thomas951475 + Prize Pack
4Triton Boats/Edge RodsRick NapierDustin Sippel922275 + prize Pack
5Lowrance/Reidy's LuresPeter PriceAndrew Susani638
6Reflexion/BassmanDan CurryAsh Sims610
7Swamp DonkeysRhyce BullimoreLuke Kerin537
8Venom/NugsyTalin PayneJonathan Clark528
9Dobyns Rods/Toray Fishing LinesColin BrettSteve Lill462
10Fired UpMat McFarlaneShane Clarke434
Team of the Year

With a near perfect score of 299 points out of a possible 300, team Humminbird/EJ Todd (Craig Griffiths and Karim De Ridder) took out the coveted Team of the Year title.

“Winning Team of the Year is what it’s all about for us,” Craig said. “We start the tour off by checking that all our equipment is in perfect condition, our lines are new from the get-go and we are constantly checking leaders and sharpening hooks.”

The team studies tide changes and moon phases, noting that the barra move with the moon phase and tend to feed in relation to the tide change. They prefer the lead up to the full moon, and believe that if you can find barramundi in an area on a new moon, that will be an excellent spot to target on the full moon.

Triton Boats/Edge Rods (Dustin Sippel and Rick Napier) were consistent without notching a victory, coming in at second place, with two third place finishes and a fourth on their way to their best result ever in the TOY points race. Team Reflexion/Bassman (Ashley Sims and Dan Curry) rounded out the podium in third, only one point behind second place.

With the dates already set for the 2016 BARRA Tour, if you are interested in attending, learning from some of the best barramundi anglers in Australia and having an absolute blast fishing some of the hottest impoundments in Australia, head to www.abt.org.au - ABT

Team of the Year Results

PlaceTeamAngler 1Angler 2Total
1Humminbird/EJ ToddCraig GriffithsKarim De Ridder299
2Triton Boats/Edge RodsRick NapierDustin Sippel293
3Reflexion/BassmanDan CurryAsh Sims292
4Skeeter/WestinPaul ButlerGreg Thomas284
5Lowrance HDSGeoff BradshawLachlan Achilles282
6Tree HuggersMick WeickBrendan Barnett276
7Likely LadsGeoff NewbyPhill Lyons274
8Team TorayWally WiltonJake Mitchell272
9Venom/NugsyTalin PayneJonathan Clark270
10Fired UpShane ClarkeMat McFarlane269
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