You Have To Believe
  |  First Published: September 2007

This time of year can really test the patience of anglers in the far north. But rest assured, fish still have to eat. And it’s our job to find out the where and the when. The wind may blow, the temperatures plummet and a milky consistency falls upon the water, however fish somewhere will be eating something.

When testing conditions prevail, some people will still find fish, whilst others will return home for a beer and little to tell. I have been lucky enough to fish with quite a few fantastic anglers and there is one trait in particular, they all share. Confidence.

You need to have the confidence that what you are doing is correct and the conviction to know the fish are truly there for the catching. Easier said than done I’m afraid. So many times we drive past fish chewing there heads off, oblivious as to their presence. So often I stare at a dry bank during low tide and fail to believe enough fish will be back with the ebb tide.

Fish are mobile creatures, sometimes we need persistence and sometime the willingness to travel. However what comes into call time and again is experience. All the best anglers get a lot of time on the water and will be able to draw on past experiences to catch fish. When they go off the bite, these are the people you need around.

Over and above even experience is the willingness to learn and try new things. This might seem silly to someone who knows their home patch well and uses the same tried and true methods for catching fish. However when you travel to someone else’s patch, there is nothing worse than the feeling of not knowing where to begin.

Clues for fisherman lay all around. They are in the water, on the land, in the air and mixed strangely into the lunar cycle. The weather combines all these features into the life and times of fish we love to catch. Good fishermen are observant about the weather conditions around them and how it may influence their fishing.

A good example of persistence occurred recently when strong winds and cold temperatures sent the barramundi completely off the bite. After throwing a thousand casts over a few days, it was clear a change of tact was needed. In a desperate attempt to find fish we ventured up the river, found a large sand bank slowly being exposed by a receding tide.

Bait flicked around in the form of mullet, garfish and small banana prawns. The few metres of discoloured water holding bait against the bank was punctuated by green water cutting a clean, crisp current line. As the boat quietly drifted into the bank a few puffs of silt shot up in the cleaner water. We had disturbed a few of something!

After casting blindly for the next ten minutes, we had nothing but a few flashes to show. We stopped casting, dejected and sat there having a drink for a short while before awaking from our slumber by that unmistakable boofing noise only a barra makes.

Standing on the console of the tender a light grey shape weaved its way across the shallow water. That tinge of yellow undulated at the end of the shape, a nice saltwater barra of 70cm or so. Thank goodness the hurried cast landed 5m long and right of the fish. It cruised on oblivious to the cast until the flashy gold lure came twitching past a few meters away.

The fish surged forward, did the slow barra gawk at the lure from close range and then engulfed the whole thing. Good fish in shallow water really perform and this salty barra was no exception, jumping time and time again. We pinned a few more fish during the session and it turned a quiet day into a respectable one.

Be prepared to adapt to whatever conditions September dishes up. It may be the only chance some of us have for returning home with something descent to eat.

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