Big Easter Barra
  |  First Published: April 2006

Barra have been on the chew in all of Ayr’s estuaries. Groper and Wallace’s creeks have been producing fish for hard working anglers, but some large barra are unstoppable. Up north the Haughton River and Morrises Creek have been the hotspots but the Barrattas have been disappointingly quiet.

Goofy Cornford said he fished the top end of the Barrattas recently with live prawns and couldn’t raise a strike. The creek seemed ‘dead’, possibly because of recent floods when lots of lagoon water was flushed through the system. This water may be low in oxygen, chasing fish out of the upper reaches of the creeks.

With the much-anticipated Easter weekend falling in the middle of April, many boats will be on the water for the first time in months. Skippers should take the time to check over their boat and gear before launching to avoid annoying delays or even life-threatening situations. Here are some hints to help you get ready for some great April fishing trips.

Safety gear has to be up to scratch. Ensure you have enough lifejackets, the correct chart and that your flares and EPIRB are in date. And check your radio at the earliest opportunity.

The outboard might need a service, especially if it hasn’t been used recently. Fill it with fresh fuel and give it a run at home. Also check the water level in the battery and the terminals for corrosion – and don’t forget to charge the battery!

Check that all the navigation and interior lights, sounders and radios are working before you even get the boat out of the shed. Corrosion can often result in poor connections on fuses, plugs etc. Fine emery paper will clean connections and a thin smear of Vaseline will minimize further corrosion.

Trailers also need a little TLC, especially if you’re embarking on a long road trip. Bearings need to be checked and replaced or repacked if necessary. Tyres are often the weak point on boat trailers so check the pressures, tread and general condition and don’t forget the spare. Fully operational trailer lights are essential for a safe journey. Tie-downs should be secure and the winch lightly greased.

If you aren’t comfortable with any of this work, hand it over to your friendly marine mechanic – it could be money well-spent.

Don’t forget to take it easy on the roads, the ramps and the waterways. Accidents and even minor mishaps can ruin a long weekend most of us look forward to all year. With a little basic preparation and a calm, considerate and unhurried approach, there’s no reason why this Easter shouldn’t produce pleasant and exciting fishing, boating and family memories.

Paul’s Barra Bonanza

A quiet weekend at the family creek hut at Ocean Creek with Mum and Dad paid off for Paul Trail in February. Instead of hitting the clubs, Paul did a little serious fishing and finished the weekend with four barra between 70 and 87cm and a couple of legal jacks. Paul said that the fishing action varied from one day to the next.

On Saturday the fish were hungry and keen, attacking live mullet baits with gusto and almost guaranteeing a hook-up and Paul scored his four barra. Barra were still striking the baits on Sunday, but not hooking up as readily and Paul dropped fish after fish.

While most Burdekin anglers concentrate on snag-studded deeper water when chasing barra, Paul said that one of his fish came from about 60cm of water. By setting a number of lines all around the boat he was able to cover all options – and the effort certainly paid off!

Paul put in a big weekend, even fishing into the night for two keeper mangrove jack and a number of smaller fish which were released. Slab mullet baits proved to be the downfall of the jacks.

To top off an already awesome weekend, Paul’s crabpots also yielded a few quality muddies. The crabs were so hungry that the Trails even scored a couple on the lines, actually lifting them into the boat without a landing net!

You would think nothing would wipe the smile off Paul’s face, but unfortunately that wasn’t to be. Upon returning to the ramp the Trails found that someone had stolen their boat trailer! A relative came to the rescue and got their boat home on his trailer, but they didn’t really expect to see their trailer again.

Luckily the police found it the next day. The thieves had stashed the trailer in long grass on a rural property close to town where it was spotted.

Ocean Creek ramp has always been one of the worst ramps in the district for theft, probably because the surrounding open country allows thieves to spot approaching vehicles. Many vehicles have been broken into and trailer parts stolen over the past few years.

Unfortunately security precautions are essential at most ramps (especially the out-of-the-way ones) these days. Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle and lock your trailer to your car. I saw the Trail’s outfit at the ramp yesterday and noticed a large brass padlock on their trailer.

If you keep all of these things in mind, you should have an excellent time fishing in April.

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