This year’s Tinaroo Barra Bash was an unbelievable success with a record field, and the weigh in on Sunday Oct 31 drew a huge crowd – a tournament organiser’s dream.
I thought last year’s record field of over 700 anglers was a turning point but it was nothing on the number of entries into the 2004 event. There were over 3000 entries in this year’s competition, all vying for a slice of a huge pie of prizes including a lucky draw prize of a 5.8m Trailcraft boat. Judging by the number of anglers actually on the water, it was obvious many people did not fish and were content to merely purchase an entry ticket and be present for the lucky draw.
Speaking of lucky – and there were many people who were – it was Rob Joseph of Kairi who became the recipient of the beautiful new reef boat fully fitted out and valued at over $58,000. This great prize was generously donated by Rick Castino of Coastal Marine and Outdoors, who has been instrumental in elevating the humble Barra Bash into a premier fishing contest in the north, with a cast of thousands.
Conditions weren’t ideal, with the event placed on the back of the full moon and temperatures slightly cooler than optimal, but there were some excellent catches. A glance in the back of a refrigerated van revealed a huge pile of big barra, with many fish over a metre and obviously well over 15kg. It is well known now that barra are being captured all over the dam in a huge variety of places, unlike a few years back when only three or four spots seemed to do all the producing. Catching techniques are also more varied these days, with a lot more barra being taken on topwater shallow running lures, and of course trolling techniques are being more refined. There were plenty of ‘one that got away’ stories, including one about Adrian Fraser from Cairns whose boat lost four barra, including a monster at the boatside.
Competitors weighed in a total of 62 barra, many of which were quality fish. Richard Orchard was Champion Male Angler, with his two barra giving him a total of 34kg. Steve Davey from Cairns took out Heaviest Barra in the open category and he certainly had an impressive fish – 23kg cleaned. Steve’s huge barra was nailed on a trolled Killalure Barra Bait at about 11:30am on the Saturday, while Steve was moving between spots up in the Barron arm. Over the last few years the winning barra in this tournament has had to be up around the 25kg mark or more to have a chance of winning.
The sheer number of people who turned up for the weigh-in posed a problem for organisers because the presentations took nearly two and a half hours, and all the departing traffic caused a bottleneck. Organisers will know to prepare for a huge crowd next year, and proceedings should be more streamlined. For a start, if all prize-winners and sponsors assemble at the side of the stage ready to get up and do their presentation, a good half hour can be shaved off the program.
December is a top month for prime species like fingermark, barramundi and jacks here in the north. The three-month East Coast closure on the taking of barramundi is in force right now, and anglers are reminded to take care when releasing all barra, particularly large female barra caught during this period – Lake Tinaroo excepted. The barra have been quite active in recent weeks, taking livebaits and well placed lures and flies.
Fingermark have also been taken on livebaits, such as sardines and mud herring, and good sized mangrove jacks are also active on both bait and artificials. If you’re after a succulent-eating fingermark, try your hand at livebaiting any deepwater structure, particularly on the top of the tide. Jacks have been taking baits and accurately-placed small lures such as Tilsan Bass and Barra models. The most productive times are around the last hour of the run-out tide, and this should continue throughout the month.
For those anglers chasing bait with a cast net, this time of the year can be challenging. There are periods when the baitfish seem to disappear altogether. Supplies of sardines are often all or none, and the big sardines are all roed up.
Rest assured, however, that this is only a temporary situation. The baitfish will soon become involved in their own spawning and will come back strongly, although there will be an abundance of tiny baitfish about until they reach a more desirable size in the early new year.
Tip: look for sardines in the deeper water where it is likely to be cooler.
Have a Merry Fishmas and a Happy New Fishing Year. See you on the water in 2005.
1) Steve Davey from Cairns proudly shows off the monster barra of 23kg he trolled up to take out Heaviest Barra in this year’s highly successful Barra Bash.
2) A trailer full of huge barra weighed in at this year’s Barra Bash at Lake Tinaroo. 62 quality barra were weighed in during the comp by a record field of competitors.Reads: 1917