The 8th annual Rocky Barra Bounty was held on the Fitzroy River near Rockhampton on 13-14 October. 62 teams entered the event this year and there was the usual excitement at the Thursday evening briefing.
About half the teams participating in the Barra Bounty are regulars who return each year. The event has built a reputation as being a top class wild barramundi tag and release competition that has been achieved a 5-star accreditation rating for the last two years.
Unlike previous years, the weather played a major role this year. October in Rocky is usually hot, with daytime temperatures hovering around 30. The river’s water temperature is usually, at worst, somewhere in the mid 20’s. Southern barra will happily strike lures once the water reaches about 23, so an October competition has always seen the barra on the chew. At least, that had been the case until this year.
The week immediately prior to the Barra Bounty saw an unseasonably large high-pressure system plonk itself over southern Australia that set up a strong gradient onto the coast. The resulting gale force southeasterly winds sent daytime air temperatures tumbling and by Barra Bounty time, the water temperature in the river had dropped to below 21.
Friday morning began with an overcast sky, light rain and a very cold wind blowing up the river. This definitely wasn’t the recipe for good barra fishing. Regardless, the 62 teams were out there ready to go at 5am sharp.
Event regulations require competitors who catch a fish to tag and measure it, take a photograph of it on the ruler to verify the capture, and after release phone headquarters and report the details. Normally the phone runs consistently hot soon after 5am, but this year it was rather quiet.
Lurefishing was extremely hard yakka, and many teams reverted to bait in the hope of finding a fish. This resulted in a variety of other species being caught, including threadfin, goldspot cod, flathead, grunter, fingermark and even a couple of small mangrove jack.
The rain eased at about 9am and some odd barra reports were phoned in, again taken on live bait.
By mid-afternoon on Day 1, the scoreboard had quite a few entries on it, albeit lots of single fish. Some barra were caught on lures, including one at 860mm taken by Shane Muller from the Mully Grubs team. This fish turned out to be the biggest barra of the tournament.
The forecast for Day 2 was better, with winds turning more into the east and temperatures rising towards the high 20’s.
Although the forecast was accurate and looked hopeful, the previous day’s damage kept the water temperature down around 20 in the upper reaches of the river. Further downstream around Port Alma and the delta, the water temperature was nudging 24 and those few teams who ventured that far reported some willing barra.
Ironically, Steve Farrell from Captag didn’t enter the event this year and nailed a 900mm barra. It was a right place and time scenario.
Even though fish were few and far between, the competition was stiff in all categories. Beer N Bundy Boys Aaron Dial and Quintin McLean, bridesmaids in the lure category last year, were determined to go one better this year and had their noses in front by midday.
By 4pm, Michael Powell and Kev Matheson from Red Eye Specials had the bait category nailed down, but things were extremely close between the Beer N Bundy Boys and The Hookers who had hit a purple patch of three fish in 10 minutes at 3pm. After a check of tag sheets, it was discovered that a dodgy phone connection had resulted in an incorrect length being recorded for The Hookers, giving the title to Aaron and Quintin.
The overall individual champion for 2006 was Michael Powell for the second time. In the other species category, where all other eligible species are totalled for individuals during the event, Aaron Mackey narrowly pipped Michael Powell. Had there been a category for total fish of all species, Mickey Powell would have taken it cleanly with 17 fish.
Despite the trying conditions and only 64 barra in total being tagged and released during the event, it was still deemed a great success, with persistence and effort being rewarded. See you in Rocky next year on 19-20 October.
|1||Beer N Bundy Boys||Aaron Dial/Quintin McLean||7||3.3m||4575|
|2||Hookers||Jason Stanfield/Richard Dunkley||5||2.5m||3406|
|3||Fishing Friday||Mark Thompson/Scott Lynch||5||2.26m||2861|
|1||Red Eye Specials||Michael Powell/Kev Matheson||6||3.41m||5160|
|2||Ipswich Triers||Alex Nissan/Rob Pardon||5||2.74m||4143|
|3||TiCA Strike Pro||Mitch Lester/Lee Jackson||4||1.88m||2420|