WITH water levels at around 30% and dropping I knew fishing spots were changing week by week around Tinaroo. What was good two weeks before on shallow flats inside standing timber was soon too shallow to fish, so I had to keep moving to other locations with the right depth, temperature and water clarity to catch a fish. All that sounds good in theory, but throw in 700 competitors in small boats roaming around and the most important thing is to stay away from boat traffic!
This year the fish were right in the timber due to the cold conditions, and anyone who knows about barramundi knows cold and feeding don’t mix.
I had the best company for the weekend with five good mates – Kev Collins, Peter Adams, ‘Wozza’ Adams, ‘Duck’ and Glen Campbell of Northern Angler Tackle Store in Edmonton – just to supply the amount of hardware we lost!
Our accommodation was on the lake at Rick Holland's ‘home away from home’ which overlooks the lake at Tinaroo Park. This put us right amongst the fishing action, and after Glen had dropped three fish on Friday night we soon found out a lot of what was going on:
• The fish were right in the timber
• Small lures were best, especially the 4in Leads Lure in black and silver or the fluoro pink head with black body
• The prime bite was 6-7pm and 5-6am. Between those times you had an off chance, but you could see the bony bream tailing and flicking on the surface at first light and last light and this is when we saw most of our action.
• You have just as much chance off the bank as you do from a boat – our hook-ups happened at our feet – although a boat is good to drive to the spot.
• Don't fish full lock up drag. Keep a clear head and if a fish motors into the trees, jump in your boat and untangle it. The more wood you put on a barra up front the harder it will try to brick you. But if it goes into the timber, lightly freespool it and chase it. They usually go and sulk in a cluster of trees if you can get the fish out.
We laughed about getting done on the weekend by big fish, and the funny thing is people tell you impoundment fish don't fight. But after sitting around Saturday night with four locals and two Newcastle barra ‘experts’ we concluded the first run is just as good as a saltwater fish but they lack the stamina of big river barra. But let me tell you – when that Calcutta and GL3 come alive after an hour of constant casting, the jolt on braid of a metre-plus fish is everything!
This year there were only 30 fish weighed in, all of which were presented for photos. The event went very smoothly and congratulations to everyone who participated. Hopefully they will spread the word about this family event and the annual Barra Bash will continue to grow and promote the Atherton Tablelands as a big fish destination.
Our bill for the weekend was large but it all goes into accommodation, the local store, fishing tackle, fuel and so on and I could see no reason why every business on the Tableland wouldn’t support such a fun event.
A highlight of my weekend was watching a father and son in a yellow canoe connecting to 19kg of barra in the timber and being towed along on the plane at daylight. They were both wearing cowboy hats and the father was shouting orders to the son up the front. They landed the fish, tethered it to the canoe and went on fishing.
During my conversation with them they told me about the previous day's efforts that included one 20kg fish followed by a 19kg fish. These were both successfully caught by quietly paddling and flicking big Gold Bombers into the heavy timber, while right beside them were three serious fishos with more stickers and sponsors than an Indy car (all with four-stroke motor, bow mount Thruster, latest sounder) who hadn't had a touch all weekend. I like their style!
So there you have it – Barra Bash 2003. We had a ball with some great mates and even had time to fit in the World Cup at night. The trick is fish smarter at daylight and dark, not harder if you're going to Tinaroo. Good luck! - Dave Powell, Quay Marine, Cairns
For a full report on the Barra Bash see page 76 in the Tournament News section.
1) The weigh-in at the Tinaroo Barra Bash.Reads: 999