The first couple of months of barra season have been hectic and the tides for the opening were spot on, the water clarity was awesome, and the fish bit well. Plenty of 1m+ monsters were caught, and while plenty were taken for the table, the majority that I have heard of have been released which is awesome news.
After three hard years of trying, my son has achieved his goal to break the magic meter mark and proud doesn't even begin to describe how he felt. He found his fish in a deep hole on the turn of the tide, and as his Atomic Prong hit the bottom he got one twitch out of it. He fought perfectly keeping the rod at the angles necessary to be successful at every surge, and pumped and wound at exactly the right times to achieve his dream fish. Many people ask if young Tannhym casts, hooks and lands fish on his own, and this has been the case for the last few years. The satisfaction and increased confidence he gets from every capture has been worth the countless tangles, snags, me being hooked, etc. I honestly can't imagine a better bonding pastime.
For the lure fishers, many decent-sized fish have been up high in the water column, making them an easier target for hardbody casters. The deeper diving lures have been getting the most attention, and when the water clears you can see almost every hook-up and the flashes from fish making a rush at the lure, but pulling out at the last second. Mostly, the second cast gets smashed and the hook-up is usually a good one, as they don't want to miss a second opportunity. It's this reason that a good pair of Polarised sunnies is a must, as so many fish would be missed if we didn't see the first flash. I think I've put it in these pages before, but barra seem to be a definite preference between lure types depending on the water clarity and temperatures. With the temperature sitting between 30-33°C, it's warm enough to get them going. Clarity has been the biggest consideration around the Townsville area, but these issues aren’t present both north and south of us, as most areas around the Whitsundays and Hinchenbrook seem to be clearer than the local waters.
These dirty times call for a lure that has a lot of 'thump' or vibration, to make it more of an easy target for a predator to detect, and the 105 Halco Hamma has been designed to do exactly that. The smaller profiled Laser Pro 120 is more of your traditional ‘tweakin’ type lure, and with lots of twitching and tapping of the rod tip, this lure can be made to dance then sit very close to a piece of structure and be allowed to float over branches and structure before being worked again. The deeper bib is great for the 90° vertical mangrove roots and laying down timber where you want the lure to dive and tap the snag and then float back up luring out whatever may be present. The Hamma is more for when you come up onto one of those spots that just looks like it should hold a big fish.
I'm hopeless, and have two rods at least rigged with hardbodies, and it's almost always the two lures mentioned that are swinging from the rod tip. Colours vary depending on the water.
If you told me fifteen years ago that I would be using soft baits for barra on a regular basis, I'd have laughed in your face. I suppose that's because I've always done well on hardbodies and never found the need to make a change. Up until later developments in plastic designs, there wasn't that much on the market that proved more effective for me. In more recent times the design variations have become more suitable to the way I fish, and almost indispensable in some scenarios. Similarly, the hooks and tackle have been refined to fish the best possible way in the environments that I frequent. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that we can reach deep-water fish in areas that were really only a live bait option previously. So make that three outfits that I take along on every trip. Let's not forget the times when the barra only take tiny offerings, which can only be fished on light line and smaller jigheads. This situation calls for more of a delicate approach, so better make that four outfits!
I fish with my son most of the time, and he want to use that same as Dad, and he's learning when and where are the best times to use each of these. So between us that's eight outfits. Sheesh that sounds excessive doesn't it, but there is no situation that we can't adapt a lure type to, so in our eyes it’s worth it!
It seems that the mackerel never left this year, and varied species have been showing periodically. It's the Spanish that are the biggest drawcard for anglers, and the big fellas are showing up again already, with fish up to 23-24kg taken over the last couple of weeks. One of our regulars in at Akwa Pro Tackle was saying that they ran out of Wolfies in an hour so thought there'd try a couple of lures to see their reaction to hard plastic. With wire traces connected to the lures they lost several in quick time, as competing fish snapped at the swivel on the trace and snipped them off. It may be worth learning and perfecting the albright version of connecting the wire to your leader, as this is very slim and gives no profile for the competing fish to target.
Bottom fishing has been successful also, and on many occasions the lures and jigs have been out fishing baits. Choppers (golden snapper) schools have been thick in the usual haunts at times, and when they're on the chew you'll know all about it. The best producing plastics at the moment are the 120 QuickCatch vibes, Berkley Squidvicious and the Atomic Prong.
I haven't had a chance to get out wider and chase the choppers, but I'm thinking that the Mad Eye 5" Paddle-tailed Prawn with the additional skirt is going to connect you to these guys.
All in all, it’s been pretty good fishing for most anglers and definitely worth the effort to get out on the water, even though the wind has been pretty ordinary. The typical early morning start should have you among them and usually back home before the wind picks up too bad. Just keep an eye on that all-important weather chart!Reads: 597