Tom Slater

FISHING | PRODUCT | MARKETING

Magazine | A Day on the Lake. Breaking Down New Water.

Originally appearing in Fishing Monthly Magazines, May 2016. 

As the scorching heat of summer starts to relent, the native fish species in our Queensland impoundments begin to move. This reality piece follows local bass angler, Tom Slater as he attempts to unlock the secrets of a new lake in one day on the water.

5:40 am – It’s a cool morning when I back my boat into Borumba Dam for the first time. The air is thick with a morning fog that blankets the entire dam. I’d left Brisbane at 3:30am to be the first boat on the water. During the autumn months, I’d expect I should be able to get a few early bites on a surface lure.

5:50 am – I start my Yamaha and motor off down the dam. I’m looking for a likely spot to start my day. I’m looking for a spot that is close to deep water, with good shoreline vegetation in the form of weed beds or submergent grass.

5:57 am – We pull up on a main lake point, it’s a steep bank, with the side of a hill plunging straight into the dam. The edge is fringed with healthy green weed, and I think the small bays leading off the main point should be a good option for an early bite on surface.

5:59 am – The first cast of the day is a long wind assisted cast to the edge of the weed. I’m throwing a small topwater pencil lure, on spinning tackle for maximum distance. These still mornings call for maximum stealth, so I want to stay as far away from the shore as possible.

6:24 am – I round the first small point on the way back into a cove off the main lake. My second cast on the point heralds a strike from a nice size Saratoga. I hook up but in the course of the violent jumps and headshakes, it throws the lure.

During this time of year, when the harshest heat of Summer has ended. The fish will tend to stay shallower longer. In the heat of Summer, water temperatures on the edge can exceed thirty degrees in some of our impoundments. Much too hot for species such as bass to remain there all day long. So they tend to move deep, out into the main river channel and relax in the deeper, cooler water. That’s not to say that they are never up shallow in Summer, it’s just more of a morning or afternoon affair when the thermometer is rising.

Now that we’re in the Autumn, the water temperatures have started to fall and the bass will feel more comfortable to be in shallower water for a longer part of the day. Species like bass and yellowbelly use structure like weed beds to help acclimatise to new water temperatures. The weed bed acts as insulation, keeping water cooler in summer and warmer during winter. So targeting this shoreline weed is a popular technique in Autumn, Winter and Spring.


6:33 am – I change to a small wakebait, it’s a crankbait that dives so shallow, it bulges the waters surface creating a commotion and bubble trail that’s hard to ignore. They’re great lures for covering water quickly, I haven’t ever fished this dam before. So I need to cover some ground to maximise the chances of finding fish.
6:35 am – Straight away the new lure produces the goods, with a bass exposing himself from under a laydown tree amongst the weed on the shoreline. I reach for my rod rigged with a skirted jig. The jig is something I’ve only started experimenting with in the last few years, but it works well when you know there’s a fish in the area. You can fish it slowly along the bottom, and have it imitate a small crustacean like a yabby.

6:37am – I place a cast on the far side of the tree limb, it sinks and immediately I set the hook on a nice sized Borumba bass.

 

The old adage of ‘never leave fish to find fish’ is so true in this instance. I could have easily resigned to the fact that I’d missed that fish on its initial strike of my topwater, but I knew it didn’t feel any hooks and so it was likely to bite again. Rather than throw the same lure back in there twice, I chose a different lure, one that I could fish much slower and I ended up catching that fish. This is why it’s always a good idea to have a smaller profile lure, like a soft plastic or jig tied on that you can fish slowly around an area where you may have missed a bite or seen a fish. If you haven’t spooked them chances are they might still be around to catch later. 

6:57am – I’d fished back into the small bay off the main lake for only one other small boil on my surface lure. By now there had been several boats drive past and the sun was creeping above the horizon and the surface bite was

7:34am – With no other action to speak of after fishing another small point and adjoining cove, and with the sun now firmly beating down onto the once shady bank. I made the decision to put down the surface lures and fire up the Yamaha and look for some fish in a little deeper water.

Weather conditions can either make or break a fishing day. If we’re greeted with overcast skies and low light, the fishing in the shallow fringes of our lakes can fire. On the contrast, days like I experienced at Borumba with high bluebird skies and not much wind can limit the time you spend looking for fish in really shallow water. As the sunlight starts hitting the waters surface, fish will start to retreat. Either out to slightly deeper water, or deeper into structure like snags or weed. So to maximise your chances of catching more fish, alter your fishing style and techniques with the changing weather. Use subsurface lures once the sun is up or start fishing deeper into the snags or weed to get those fish that have moved back into the shade to come out and strike.

7:56am – I idled back into the main lake and made my way towards the timbered section of the dam. It’s easier to locate an old creek bed with the presence of standing timber. You can generally pick out the channel just by looking at the placement of the trees and the size of them relative to how far they come out of the water.

8:14am – My aim was to locate schooled fish sitting on the break of where the old creek bed rose up onto a shallower flat. I set my Humminbird to side imaging and used it to scan 30 metres out each side of my boat. It didn’t take long to find a few fish schooled around a point extending out into the main river bed.

8:28am – After throwing a number of casts with a jighead rigged soft plastic I noticed fish holding very tight to the bottom. I reached for a soft vibration style lure which I dropped vertically onto the fish I could see on my sounder. Within two hops of the lure off the bottom I felt no resistance when I went to lift the lure for a third time, a fish had grabbed it on the drop and I’d not felt anything. A nice sized yellowbelly found its way into the net and onto the Camera.

8:36am – There was one isolated tree standing proud atop the high spot I was fishing. Generally, standing timber like this may as well have a giant illuminated yellowbelly sign on the top, it’s one of the best ways to target yellowbelly in our lakes and dams.  

Targetting vertical standing timber can be an exciting way to catch species like yellowbelly and bass. It can often be the easiest way to locate fish if you can’t find success around the edges. Often, the larger the tree the better the chances of finding a fish or two holding off it. When approaching standing timber like this, there are a few different lure styles that always seem to be most effective. The first is a lipless vibration style lure. These lures sink and can be jigged off the bottom around the base of the tree, or simply retrieved straight up the trunk to trigger a bite. The second lure I’d recommend for doing this is a curl tailed soft plastic. Generally, I would rig the plastic on a 1/4oz jig head and use a dark colour like black or camo to make a better silhouette. Just drop it to the bottom and ever so slowly wind the lure back up the tree.  

8:39am – I dropped my lure straight down the trunk of the tree and started jigging it around the base of the tree in 22ft of water. This style of vertical jigging for bass and yellowbelly sometimes is more about annoying the fish into biting than actually triggering a feeding response. After maybe a minute of short sharp hops off the bottom, my lure was crunched on the free fall and a healthy sized bass had completely inhaled the lure.

9:06am – I started moving my way through the dam using my electric motor, making sure I stayed close to the old creek bed. Every large tree I encountered on my way I would make at least one cast to. Many of which produced smaller sized yellowbelly.

9:29am – After losing the saratoga earlier in the morning and hearing so much about the fishery that Borumba has. I was determined to land one of these amazing sportfish. Lifting my Fortrex out of the water and cranking up the Yamaha. I made my way through the timbered section of the main basin and began working up the Kingaham arm of the dam.

9:37am – I knocked the engine into neutral and cut the power, and was greeted with weed and lily pads lining both sides of the arm. Adding to the attraction was an ever increasing amount of spindly trees emerging out of the water along the waters edge.

9:40am – My first cast with a chatterbait in and around the lily pads produced a savage strike. I fired another cast into the area but couldn’t convince the fish to come back for another try.

10:13am – A small cove littered with weed, lily pads, and small trees snuck off from the main channel. The trees and lily pads provided plenty of shade that would be keeping the water cool. I fired my chatterbait over a small patch of lilies and watched as the water erupted as soon as I’d clicked my reel into gear. A massive saratoga launched out of the water, trying to free the hook from it’s mouth. My rod was bowed and my braid traced a line through the lilly pads into the shallow water where the toga was battling hard. I’d fought the fish all the way to the side of the boat, when at the last minute the hook popped free as I watched eighty plus centimetres of Borumba saratoga slither back into the weed.

10:21am – I continued working along the edge of the main arm. Placing casts around the numerous lily pads that lined the bank. Not even one-hundred metres from the cove where I lost the fish earlier, I hooked up again. This one wasn’t as big but any saratoga, no matter the size is a beautiful fish.

Finding and targeting areas of shade later in the day is key to finding success in shallow water. Fish of any species rarely find comfort in being exposed to direct sunlight, and so they seek out shade in any form they can. Trees are the obvious candidate for number one shade producer, but many of our lakes and impoundments have abundant lily pad fields which when grouped together, block a huge percentage of the sun’s rays from entering the water. This shade offers a perfect ambush point for predators like saratoga and bass to use to catch their prey, and focusing on finding shady areas is key to finding more fish up shallow.  

10:47am – I noticed a swirl on the water’s surface underneath a tree just out off the line of lily pads. My lure landed gently so as not to disturb the area and almost immediately my line snapped straight as another saratoga had grabbed my chatterbait.

11:19am – I’d now worked the Kingaham arm of the dam right up to where it began to narrow down and become as shallow as eight feet in the main channel. The channel was now littered with timber both above and below the waterline, while the lily pads continued to meander along the edge. With this much structure around, a spinnerbait is the obvious choice. Its rigid arm helps the lure track over obstacles like branches, allowing you to slowly retrieve the lure through even the thickest of cover. I picked up my spinnerbait rod and launched a cast straight down the middle of the narrow channel. I could feel the bait bumping its way over tree limbs and would try to slow it down even more after I felt it clear each snag. This allows the lure to free fall just for a split second after bumping over a log, giving nearby predators an opportunity to strike. My rod bowed again and another beautiful Borumba saratoga had found its way into the boat.

Saratoga are built to feed on the surface, their lack of dorsal fin means they can lie millimetres under the water without breaking the surface. They are a fantastic species to chase on surface lures early in the day or late in the afternoon. During the middle part of the day, focus your attention around the shade. Whether it is from trees or other vegetation. In this instance the lily pads I had been targeting all morning were shallowing out. Originally I was fishing them with 4-6feet of water beneath them, but travelling up the arm they were beginning to be in only 1-2feet of water. I knew that fish in this area would have moved out, away from the shallow edge and sunk back into the main channel. With plenty of timber there was still ample structure and shade. These are the sort of adjustments that need to be made throughout a fishing session to maximise your opportunities.

11:46am – I’d fished back into the Kingaham arm of Borumba Dam as far as I could. So I began making my way back out of the arm and back through the timbered section of the main basin. When approaching any new body of water for the first time, I want to try and sample everything it has to offer.

11:59am – Back in the main basin with only a little time left for the day, I noticed the steep rocky bluffs that line the north-western edge of the main basin. I pulled up and dropped my minn-kota into the water and began methodically casting a chatterbait along the bank. The bank was quite steep as I had expected, so deep water would be nearby. The perfect place for bass to hang out.

12:05pm – I’d fished approximately 70m of bank before coming to the first of many tiny coves, that cut their way into the steep bank. Offering a likely place for a bass to wait in ambush. 

Steep rock faces and bluffs can be a productive area to chase predatory fish in our impoundments. They generally have deep water very close to the bank, and the inherent nature of the rock, means that there will be plenty of nooks and crannies for fish to use to ambush prey. The small coves that cut into the face of the bank meant that at their entrance, the water was much deeper than what it had been. These are like finding the spot within the spot. The spot might be the rocky bluff wall, but the spot within the spot on this particular day was these little coves that provided something unique along this stretch of bank.

 12:06pm – My first cast into the first one of these coves produced a small mid thirties bass that hit hard for its size. I began fishing fast between each of the coves that cut into the bank. As I’d approach each cove, I’d slow down and pick apart each one. Soon I had put another four small bass in the boat.

12:38pm – By now it was time to head back to Brisbane. My first trip to Borumba had been a resounding success. Never having fished here before, I relied soley on my knowledge of fish behaviour and seasonal movements. Before winter’s chill hits south-east Queensland, the surface bite will continue. Shallow fishing in our impoundments will continue to produce good numbers of bass, yellowbelly and saratoga. But remember to adjust throughout the day. As the sun rises fish tighter to the structure, or try fishing slightly deeper. Then during the middle of the day find areas where fish can transition in the water column, places like the edges of old creek beds are perfect examples.

Attempting to break down and figure out a new piece of water in one day can be a tricky task. Sometimes it takes a little more time, but by paying attention to the time of year and the changing weather. You should be able to identify likely spots or areas that fish should be using, and hopefully experience the kind of day like I experienced the first time I went to Borumba Dam. 

May-June Recap

It’s been a while since I’ve penned something for the pages of my website. I’ve got no one to blame but myself, as I’ve had my fair share of twists and turns in my life since my last update. As some reading might know, I recently moved from Brisbane, after living in various parts of the city for over a decade. That was a pretty big decision for myself and my partner Georgia. We were both fortunate enough to find ourselves faced with fantastic opportunities in Sydney and jumped at the chance to relocate and make something of ourselves in a brand new city.

It’s been a whirlwind month starting life as a Sydney-sider. I’ve been back and forth from Brisbane moving furniture and competing in the last round of the ABT BASS Pro Series. I wasn’t going to miss that one, as my good friend Mitch battled Kris Hickson for the AOY trophy. That tournament was hit and miss for me, my first cast landed me the Big Bass of the tournament, pulling the scales down to 2.26kg. I then went almost the whole tournament without landing another legal bass. The lure of big fish in shallow among the weed fooled me, although I did have opportunities at a few more which would have helped. You live and learn from tournaments like that one, and I came away from Boondooma with more experience in the bank for next time.

Right now I’m getting ready to make the long drive back up north for the final two events of the Costa BREAM Series. I’m reuniting with my boat which has been laying dormant up in Brisbane while myself and Georgia have been working hard in Sydney. The plan is to drive up without a boat on the back and drive home with the Phoenix in tow. It’ll be great to have the boat back here so I can get my trailer re-worked so it’s a little more suited to the saltwater fishing I now have so close to my doorstep.

I’m really excited to sample the fishing around Sydney. I’ve got the Harbour, the mighty Hawkesbury and the smaller Georges River all within a half hour drive from my house and all boast some pretty amazing fishing. My limited experience on the Harbour and Hawkesbury has me itching for spring so I can start exploring with some topwater lures on the deck.

The back half of 2016 sets up to be pretty full on. September will see a lot of us bass guys travel out to Glenbawn for the B.A.S.S Championship, then only a week later travel up to Bjelke-Peterson Dam for the ABT BASS Pro Grand Final. After that, the Costa BASS MegaBucks hits Somerset mid-week, with a real chance at a 3kg+ bass. Thankfully after all that I have a bit of a break. This hectic tournament calendar means the biggest show of all, the ABT Costa Sunglasses BREAM Grand Final won’t be until early December, which should give me at least one or two opportunities to get down to St Georges Basin and get a feel for how it’s going to play out before it’s time to hit the water for real.

With all of that going on, I’m also finding time to generally explore Sydney and enjoy some time with Georgia. We basically left everyone we knew when we came to Sydney, so it’s especially important to me that we find time to do things together, otherwise it’d be easy to feel a little alienated in a strange new city.

I have managed to get out for one or two fishing sessions since my move. I was fortunate enough to film an episode of Fishin’ With Mates, Alistair McGlashan’s TV show that airs Sundays on Channel 9. The new season starts Sunday, September 3rd at 12:30pm. Expect to see me, Al and Jenny Gordillo from Costa Sunglasses out fishing for bass in one of the newest episodes. If you haven’t tried a pair of Costas I have to say you’re missing out, I can’t believe I went so long without ever trying a pair.

That’s it for now, hopefully I can string together a couple of respectable finishes at the last two Costa BREAM Series events and scrape into the Grand Final. I didn’t fish as many BREAM Qualifiers as I normally would due to conflicting work schedules, fingers crossed that doesn’t come back to bite me!

Check in again next month.

Technique Breakdown | Metal Spoons for Australian Bass

Originally for www.abt.org.au
 

The last few years has seen a resurgence in anglers looking for the next big thing in lures to target Australian bass. Peter Phelps and Mitchell Cone exposed the skirted jig to the wider tournament angling community when they dominated the ABT BASS Pro Grand Final at Lake Glenbawn in 2015. At the same time, a number of anglers’ further north were fixing to kick-start a resurgence for an old-school technique, refined by modern technology.

Metal spoons have exploded in the tight circle of bass fishing aficionados over the past year. Catching bass on metal lures isn’t a new concept – I’ve witnessed plenty of anglers throwing wonder wobblers or metal slugs as far as they can off the banks of our Brisbane impoundments to catch schooled bass. But like all techniques, there is a period of refinement from a few anglers experimenting with the technique to when it becomes widely accepted as a fish catching method. In addition to this, tackle manufacturers have begun producing some highly detailed and expertly designed lures specific to the technique, which kick-starts a rapid rise in anglers’ knowledge and confidence.

THE EXPERIMENT

A number of ABT anglers have been at the forefront of the spoon fishing craze, namely Dean Thompson, a keen ABT BASS Electric angler, alongside veteran ABT BASS Pro competitor Dave Young.

Thompson first began to experiment with spoons after returning from a lengthy stint in Japan, where he was first introduced to the technique.

“I found some Nories Wasaby spoons in a few tackle stores in Japan, and it crossed my mind as something to try on Australian bass when I returned home,” said Thompson. Knowing that past anglers had previously had success on similar style lures, Thompson was eager to explore the differences that these new generation baits possessed.

It was on his return from Japan that Thompson introduced ABT BASS Pro legend Dave Young to the technique, and Young has been at the forefront of the technique with Thompson ever since.

“It was mid-way through 2015, when Dean introduced me to the spoon during a day on Somerset, then Jackall’s Harry Watson showed me a new bait they were releasing called the Jackall Lizinc spoon,” explained Young. The pair have now put over a year into developing the technique and are happy to share their technique to help others catch more fish.

“Like every new lure I pick up, I like to swim it beside the boat to see what action it has before using it,” Thompson said. “I was blown away by the erratic fluttering action the Nories Wasaby made when I dropped it into the water for the first time.” Instantly, Thompson knew this would be a successful technique to drive our bass crazy.

Both Thompson and Young prefer to reach for the spoon when bass are schooled up, with the thought that the more erratic darting action can trigger a reaction bite from timid fish grouped together.

“I prefer to fish spoons in deep water, anywhere from 15-40ft is ideal,” said Young. Dean will reach for a spoon whenever bass are schooled up, in any depth of water. He also relies on a spoon when covering vast amounts of area in deeper water to find active fish.

FINETUNING THE TECHNIQUE

Both Young and Thompson note there are numerous ways to work the versatile heavy metal lures to trigger bites.

“I fish the spoon differently depending on how the fish are positioned,” said Young. Using a retrieve similar to what he favours when fishing a tail-spinner, Young allows the spoon to sink to the bottom, slowly takes up the slack to regain contact with the spoon and then employs a long lift of the rod from roughly 3 o’clock to 12 o’clock. At the top of the lift, Young quickly drops his rod tip back down, to create enough slack line for the spoon to have the most erratic and enticing drop as possible.

“I prefer the random gliding action of the Lizinc spoon when it can fall on a completely slack line,” explained Young, noting you must pay close attention to your line when allowing slack like into your system. “It’s critical to pay close attention to the slack line for ticks or movement that could indicate a bite, if I detect a bite I quickly wind until the line begins to straighten and regain tension, before lifting my rod to strike.”

Thompson’s makes a long cast towards where he believes the fish are holding. Like Young, Thompson keeps a close eye on his line, as the lure completes the initial sink, as quite often the bait won’t even make it to the bottom if the fish are active. Once the lure has come to rest on the bottom, Thompson lifts the rod directly over his head to the 10 o’clock position. He does that once, drops his rod back down, and then repeats the process, so the spoon darts up once, before briefly fluttering before the second lift pulses the spoon upwards again, through the schooled fish. He then lets the lure free fall back to the bottom. If he manages to continue this retrieve without getting a bite and finds the lure close to the boat, he simply employs a slow roll, in case he has triggered fish to follow or be interested through the lift and drop retrieve. These fish may commit to biting once he begins a methodical slow retrieve. Thompson believes the key to use these types of baits is how they react when left to sink on a slack line.

“Most other techniques either sink directly down or down and towards the angler, I believe the spoon works so well because it slides and sinks so irregularly, sometimes even sinking backwards to where the fish would be following.”

THE EQUIPMENT

While the two look to fish the lure in similar ways, their choice of preferred tackle differs. Young prefers spinning tackle, in the form of a 7-7’6” Dobyns spin rod, paired with a 2500 sized reel. Thompson favours baitcasting tackle, on the basis of it being easier and quicker to engage and disengage free spool to keep the perfect amount of slack in his line. One thing the both have in common with gear choice is rod length, favouring a longer rod of at least 7ft. A longer rod moves more line, if you think about the arc your rod tip makes when lifting from 9 o’clock (horizontal) to 12 o’clock (vertical), a 7ft rod would move an extra 50cm during that movement compared to a rod of 6ft. Using the length of the rod as the radius of a circle, you can calculate arc length by using 2πR, which calculates the circumference of the whole circle, which you can then divide by 4 to get the arc length from 9 o’clock to 12 o’clock. Moving more line not only enables you to lift the spoon higher off the bottom, potentially reaching suspended fish holding higher off the bottom. But it also allows you to move more line when you strike and minimise time spent winding to regain tension in your line.

The next key piece of equipment selection is on the same path, a high speed reel. Thompson favours baitcast reels with a ratio of at least 7:1 if not even higher.

“A faster speed reel lets me pick up the slack quicker, almost all of your bites will come on the drop, so you need to be quick to get on top of your line and set the hooks before the fish has a chance to spit or shake your lure.”

Young turned to the spoon initially for an edge in his tournament endeavours, noting that is was a technique that very few were using.

“Not many guys were using them and they provided me with a bait that the fish were not getting exposed to,” explained Young. He’s also found spoons at times can trigger bites on pressured schools that aren’t responding to other techniques. Both Young and Thompson agree that the spoons tendency to catch big fish is a draw card for them to pick up the lure.

“They’re one of the best imitations of bony bream that the bass in QLD impoundments feed on,” noted Thompson. Since turning to them more regularly, Young has caught numerous 50cm+ fish and has confidence to turn to the Lizinc to look for key upgrades.

JUMP ON BOARD

While the spoon isn’t the only answer to those tricky bass, both Thompson and Young believe it’s an integral part of their arsenal to target schooled fish.

“I wouldn’t say it’s replaced any of my standard techniques, but I would say that the spoon has earned a place on the deck of my boat on any given fishing trip or tournament,” said Young. Thompson goes as far as always having one or even two Nories Wasaby spoons rigged up when he’s faced with schooling bass.

When asked if there are any modifications the pair make to their baits of choice, both anglers said the addition of swinging assist hooks rigged on the nose of the bait is a must have. When fishing the Nories Wasaby, Thompson attached a swivel and snap clip to the nose to eliminate line twist, he also uses the snap to anchor his Ecogear ZX assist hooks.

“The Jackall Lizinc spoon actually has a swivel incorporated into the nose line tie,” explained Young. So the addition of the snap and swivel is not needed. However he does still rely on the ZX assist hooks connected via the nose split ring to help secure more bites.

With the spoon fishing craze well and truly taking off among keen bass anglers throughout Australia, a number of manufacturers are coming to the party o offer baits for anglers to experience this exciting technique. Both the Nories Wasaby spoon and Jackall Lizinc spoon are on the market already, available in a range of sizes and colours. Pontoon 21 is also set to release their brand new Paco Spoon onto the market in the next few weeks, which will give anglers plenty of choice when looking to try this exciting technique.

Setting the bar

In my last blog I discussed my opinion on how the sponsorship game works in Australia, and how it will evolve in the future. I had some excellent feedback from people in all circles of the industry; thank you all for your thoughts. The tone of the blog was critical of the issues we face within our industry. However, it is always necessary to examine the origins of problems before attempting to improve a situation, together as an industry. I’d like to introduce you to three groups that excel and are leading the way to a bright future for fishing. These three are by no means the only achievers within the fishing industry, they do however, set the bar for those who aspire to establish a brand on the water.

Aussie Fly Fisher
Joshua Hutchins, is the guy behind the handle Aussie Fly Fisher, and what he does is nothing short of amazing. His images are fantastic, his words are top quality and he’s got a fantastic, well rounded marketing strategy. Even if you aren’t a fan of fly fishing, I think everyone can learn a little bit from how professionally Josh approaches his work.
You can follow him through these platforms;
www.aussieflyfisher.com
Facebook.com/aussie-fly-fisher
Instagram @aussieflyfisher

Bush Kraft Kollective
I’ve known Brett Habener for a long time. We worked together at Fish Head back when the store was located in Victoria Point. Brett’s still there now, and I think that’s indicative as to why Fish Head continues to dominate the bluewater lure casting market. Brett’s teamed up with Andrew Wilson and Jason Haakstad to start Bush Kraft Kollective.
It’s essentially a bunch of like minded mates who enjoy fishing, photography and writing. They’ve combined these passions into an excellent blog. I follow their blog religiously, and love seeing new content. I’m a sucker for a good fishing photos and these guys deliver them in spades.
You can follow Bush Kraft Kolllective by visiting;
www.bushkraftkollective.com
Facebook.com/bushkraftkollective
Instagram @bushkraftkollective

Team Goodang
Team Goodang is, as the name suggests, obsessed with Cod. Aaron Hill, Rory Clibborn and Dean Norbiato have run the website and blog for a while. They’re pretty well known in the native circles, I’ve worked with Aaron in the past and he’s a stand-up bloke. Dean’s background in marketing and promotions obviously ties in perfectly, and this is reflected in the work they produce. They post regularly, with good organic content that helps more guys catch the sort of fish they show in all their great imagery.
You can get a taste of what I’m talking about here;
www.teamgoodang.com.au
Facebook.com/TeamGoodang
Instagram @rory_teamgoodang_fishing
Instagram @ahill_teamgoodang
Instagram @norbs24

March Recap

March marked the start of the ABT BASS Pro Series for 2016, and the first two events were staged in double-header format back-to-back on the NSW Hunter Valley impoundments of Lake Glenbawn and Lake St Clair.

Last month I fished my first tournament of the year at Glenbawn, and failed to achieve the result I desired, finishing mid-field and not catching a full tournament limit. I wasn’t going to let the same stubborn and unfamiliar approach to tournament tactics stop me from succeeding this time. I fell into the trap last month of believing I had to fish a certain way to be competitive, and I scrambled my own game by trying to make those guidelines work for me instead of simply going fishing and working the fish out for myself. I’m a firm believer in not accepting too much advice from others when hitting the water. It’s really easy for someone to tell you they’ve been catching them doing this, or in this particular area. What’s not so easy is to go and replicate someone else’s successful game plan.  I’d much prefer to make my own and figure the fish out my own way. Usually, if you pursue the sport like this you’ll be more confident and successful and you’ll be aware of every little detail of the pattern or technique you’re running, rather than reliance on second hand information you’ve been told about and have to fill in the blanks for.

Determined not to make the same mistake again, I spent pre-fish day for the first event at Glenbawn scouring the five or six locations I’d located fish in the previous month and fishing them totally fresh – how I would normally approach fish in that situation, with almost immediate success. Typically, bass in summertime in the Hunter Valley respond to a curl-tailed soft plastic dropped straight down into fish you can see on your Humminbird. Then you have to slowly wind it back through the fish. For the life of me I can’t get that technique to work! So instead, I fell back on my go-to NSW bass soft plastic – a 2” long One’Up shad, which I rigged on a 1/4oz jighead. The technique was fairly straightforward, although fraught with danger. Glenbawn is a maze of sunken trees and timber, and bumping a tree mid-retrieve is almost a guarantee on every cast. Rather than drop my plastic straight down onto the fish I could see on my sounder, I cast out to allow the lure to hit the bottom and retrieve the plastic back on a more natural angle. It worked well and I caught plenty. But I also lost my fair share; at one stage I think I was one from six hook-ups in a 30min period.

 I continued to use that pattern for the tournament, and caught a full 12/12 limit and finished in eighth place. My good mates Mitch and Pete came first and second that weekend, and pocketed $3500 odd for their efforts.

From there, we moved straight into the second event at nearby Lake St. Clair. I absolutely love St Clair, I’ve won tournaments there in the past and I really enjoy how the lake sets up. It’s a shallow, weed infested lake full of bass and I hadn’t been there for almost twelve months, so I was keen to hit the water. St Clair is one of those places where you can always catch fish shallow, it might only be for an hour or so in the morning while the sun is still low, but they’ll be there. The weather we were dealt with was hot and clear, with beautiful sunny skies. The morning fog was going to be the key, and I was hanging out to see if that fog would roll in come tournament day.

 Tournament day began and I opened up the Yamaha and flew down the dam knowing if I could get to one of my favourite little banks I’d have a good chance at a few early kicker fish off the edge. Turns out I was right, and my non-boater Simon Johnson and I absolutely smashed them that morning. Catching probably 10 fish or so off the shallow edges in less than 3ft of water. We weighed them in and jumped straight back out. With the sun now high in the sky, the edge bite was dead, so we targeted fish on the outside edge of the weed in 25ft of water. I’d identified this pattern late in the pre-fish day when I tied on one of my go-to bream lures, a small Ecogear VX35 blade, and proceeded to hop it off the bottom with short, sharp hops. That technique continued to work for Simon and I, and we weighed another solid limit at 3kg. Turns out we were sitting first after day one, with 8/8 fish for 6.23kg, and that was when things started to go downhill for me. 

I learnt something really valuable on the second day; I started in the same bays and banks that had produced early for me on Day 1. I pulled the hooks on a good fish early on and caught a couple of undersize fish. But the seemingly endless supply of quality fish from day one had vanished, and I didn’t adjust quickly enough.

Tournament fishing is all about making adjustments, whether it’s adjusting to the weather patterns, angling pressure or some other outside factor. It’s very rare that you can go out and do exactly the same thing in subsequent sessions and maintain success. On Day 2 at St Clair I should have adjusted, and hit some fresh banks that I hadn’t fished the day before. I ended up grinding out a small limit and ended the tournament in third place. Still a great result, but I can’t help but think what could have been had I backed myself to find some fresh fish in some new areas.

Now the tour heads a little closer to home for me, as we hit the Richmond River in early April for Round Three.

Magazine - The Lure Of The Tour

Originally appearing in the 2016 Tournament Angler Guide by Fishing Monthly.

The ABT BARRA Tour is a unique event for tournament fishing. A weeklong full immersion into barra fishing ‘The Tour’ is a barra junkie’s ultimate adventure.

 

For stalwarts of the tour the week long barra road trip is an opportunity to rub shoulders with minded competitive individuals and experience the outstanding barra fishing that North Queensland has to offer, while for anglers new to the tour it’s an opportunity like no other to fast track their learning and knowledge of this iconic species.

 

The last two tours in particular have produced fishing that can only be described as world class. If metre plus average catches of barra on a weeklong road trip is your thing then the BARRA Tour should be definitely on your bucket list.

 

Get Packing

Knowing what to pack, and the essentials you need to have with you for life on tour can be hard to define for the uninitiated. A seemingly endless array of lures, lines, tackle and electronics can make the tour or any barra fishing excursion seem pretty daunting. This uncertainty isn’t unique to beginners either, with many experienced barra anglers still puzzling every new bit of equipment that comes to market.

 

It doesn’t have to be that complicated though; success on the tour isn’t limited to your performances on the score sheet. Nor is it indicative of the size of your bank account. Finding, hooking and ultimately landing even one metre long barra would be the pinnacle for many Australian anglers.

 

Let’s help provide some clarity to all the options and chat to some of successful and seasoned pros on the must-have for a successful sojourn to the northern lakes and the BARRA Tour.

 

Softy Does It

‘Soft plastics’ is a pretty generalized term for what is a very diverse style of lure. There’s a myriad of shapes and sizes which can be perplexing on a shop wall. From flukes to frogs and everything in-between, soft plastics encompass some of the most effective and reliable barra lures we’ve seen on the tour. Let’s break down these soft and squishy morsels and give you the hard facts on what to pack for your first tour.

 

The Squidgy Slick Rig is like the forward defensive shot in Cricket. It’s somewhat boring, but fundamental to prolonged success in the northern impoundments. Sure, there are other options, which we will look at in a minute, but no other lure has experienced the successes of the Slick Rig. These days the Slick Rig receives a fair old modification from most seasoned barra pro’s. Craig Griffiths of the 2015 TOY (Humminbird/EJ Todd) takes a soldering iron to his Squidgies to maximize their effectiveness on the water. You can watch a video of how Craig modifies his ‘slickies’ by scanning the QR code.

So the Slick Rig is a walk up starter. Now let’s take a look at a few other options to fulfill the inner tackle junkie in all of us.  Just like your favourite meal deal, don’t be afraid to upsize in search of giant barra on the tour. Size definitely mattered for some teams on the 2015 tour, especially at the big barra mecca of Peter Faust Dam. Lures of seven, eight or even nine inches were not uncommon on the decks of the top teams. Storm R.I.P shads accounted for key fish for team Humminbird/EJ Todd in their domination of the event. Large profile baits with strong action were key late in the tour, when the moon was fading and light was low. Some creative rigging is needed when throwing a soft plastic measuring the best part of twenty centimetres, and this can be some of the most enjoyable time in the lead up to a tour.

 

A few relative newcomers to the Australian market in Westin and Castaic both offer some simple yet incredibly effective lures to fill those remaining gaps in your soft plastic box. The Westin Shad Teez is a great natural boney bream profile, and it’s large paddle tail exhibits great action and body roll when rigged on a standard jig head. Castaic’s Jerky J Swim series of boot tail swimbaits are a little thicker in the body than the Westin counterparts, again featuring a thumping tail beat that draws barra in to have a look. Both are available in a range of different sizes from petite little three-inch versions to mega profiles of seven inches and bigger, catering to every bait size.

 

One last contender for the specialty spot in the soft plastic arsenal would be the Zerek Flat Shad. A unique collapsible body makes this perfect for rigging weed-less and throwing into some really nasty structu

 



 

Harden Up

 

So now you have a box of the go-to soft baits, it’s time to harden up and put together a tray of the best and most effective hard bodies for an assault on the 2016 barra tour. There’s a reason why Rapala have been the major supporter of the tour in the last few years, they saw a group of anglers having fantastic success on some of their products and rewarded them with support. The Rapala X-Rap is synonymous around the world as a fish catching machine, and they are super effective for the barra angler. If the ‘slickie’ was the forward defense of soft plastics, the X-Rap would be the frontline quick of a steamy pace attack.

 

As anglers, we’re all about diversity; no one likes to own all the same stuff. So here are a few other options to look at building your one stop shop hardbody box.

 

The Luckycraft Pointer has been a benchmark barra lure since the brand first made it’s way to Australia from the largemouth filled waters of Japan. Available in a multitude of sizes and running depths, a box of assorted Pointers could probably suffice even the pickiest of barra junkies. Now available with out of the box Barra ready hardware, the benchmark just got higher.

 

Ecogear BM125s were probably one of the first Japanese designed lures specially made to target Barramundi in Australia after Japanese lure designer Takayoshi Orimoto came to Australia many years ago. Still a fantastic shallow water option to this day the BM125 is a contender for sure.

 

Of course, it isn’t just overseas where we look for successful barra lures. Australia has produced some truly excellent options for the box, with companies such as Reidys continue to make some of the most relied on barra lures in the country. With the B52 continuing to do damage in the hands of barra tour stalwarts like Peter Price.

 

It isn’t just the long, slim profiles of jerkbaits that barra love to munch on in North Queensland. Fat profile, short bodied crankbaits imitate a boney bream better than almost anything else and continue to fly under the radar of many barra fisherman. Karim DeRidder of team Humminbird/EJ Todd put the Luckycraft SKT Magnum on the map when he utilized the gigantic crankbait to notch the teams first win of the 2015 tour at Teemburra Dam. The behemoth crankbait measures over 100mm and a simple slow roll and pause technique was all that was needed to capture almost ten metres of Barra in the two-day evening event.  Steve Morgan told stories about how they used to catch plenty of barra on an old Rapala Risto Rap, again a slightly shorter and fatter profile crankbait that you simply slowly wind through structure, with the odd pause to capture the interest of a nearby barra.

 

Whilst they aren’t as diverse and as easily accessible for the average angler, jointed hard swim and glidebaits are quickly becoming a consistent fish catcher in the northern impoundments, and with their continued success they only become more and more accessible as more options come to market. There are a few different styles of swimbaits available, some swim with a very pronounced S motion, whilst others glide majestically side-to-side, sometimes as wide as three feet. Evergreen, Duo and Megabass make some great hard swim and glidebaits, which are definitely a contender for that last space in the hardbody box.

 

 

Pick Up Sticks

Now that you’ve sorted a couple of boxes of the go-to fish catching machines, you will need some rods to throw them on won’t you? Barramundi rod selection is like a game of young vs old. Traditionally, short overhead baitcast rods were the norm. The perceived added control of a sub six foot rod and the older method of simply fishing the snags meant a shorter rod was always favoured. These days with our added knowledge of how to target fish offshore away from structure, longer overheads and spin rods especially have really took control over the last few years. Realistically, you only need a couple of rods to be a successful barra angler, one spin and one baitcast would see you set for almost all situations you’d encounter on tour.

 

A medium-heavy rated baitcast around 6’6” in length would be the first choice. Something of this length can be utilized for tip down presentations like twitching a jerkbait amongst timber, yet is not disadvantaged too much on an open point casting a soft plastic to a weed edge. You don’t need to worry too much about how many million modulus the blank is, as long as it’s comfortable and light enough to cast for 8 hours without fatigue, you won’t have any trouble detecting a bite from a hungry barra.


A spin rod of a similar rating around 10-20lb around the 7’0” mark would be the second stick in the quiver. This rod would mainly be used for long casting on open points and bays, but could be equally used for slowly winding a lure through structure.  A key with spin rods is to make sure the guides are suitable to pass your chosen leader knot, if you tie a large knot like an albright choose a rod with larger guides, likewise if your familiar with the FG knot which you can watch by clicking the QR code you open up a few more options with smaller guides.

 

Personally on the 2015 tour I took up everything from 5’8” to 7’9” baitcast rods, as I wanted to put everything to the test and identify what I believed to be the best. After ten days of flat out fishing I have to admit I definitely prefer a longer rod, with 6’6” being the absolute minimum for what I would take. The main benefit I saw in longer rods over 7 feet was the added ‘tip’ you get from a longer blank. A longer rod can still be powerful in the butt and yet retain a sensitive tip, whereas a short six-foot rod will inherently exhibit a stiffer tip due to the short length. With how a barramundi feeds, I found my hook up ratio was a lot higher with longer rods, as I think it allowed me a few extra milliseconds to react to the initial bite while the softer tip loaded. With a short stiffer rod, the fish feels resistance almost immediately.

 

 

Tinker Time

Getting prepped for the barra tour is almost as fun as winding them in, the preparation and tinkering that goes on is both rewarding on and off the water. If you scanned the QR code you would have already seen how Craig Griffiths modifies his Squidgy Slick Rigs, and you can modify almost anything in your equipment to maximize the results.

Upgrading the terminals on your favourite hardbodies can alter the buoyancy, so doing all this at home before you hit the water can prevent wasted time.

Adding a stinger hook to your soft plastics is the number one modification most experienced barra anglers look to, to increase their hook up ratio. There are a number of ways to rig a stinger, some more complex than others. Swivels, Hawaiian snaps, and crimps can all be used to secure a treble on the underneath of a soft plastic.

 

Not really tackle related but tinkering with your anchor can save you huge headache in the weeklong barra fest. Being able to quick release your anchor if you hook up to a rampaging fish will definitely keep more fish from rubbing you off. Most of the in-the-know guys have a quick release clip with a float on their anchor line, if you hook up and need to up anchor. Rather than pulling the anchor in you simply unhook and throw the float overboard, the float will keep the anchor line up top so you can come and re-clip in after you’ve landed your fish.

 

Another boat modification that can come in handy is some lighting. No doubt you’ve seen the awesome lighting rigs floating around on Bassmaster pro’s boats for the last few years. This functional bling can definitely help you stay organized in a night session or the grueling all night event. Spotlights either handheld, or mounted to the bow of the boat can help navigate the timbered sections of the lakes making nighttime maneuvering much easier.

 

 

Sounder Secrets

Barramundi are one of the best fish to look for on a sounder, the large slow moving fish appear perfectly on the screens of even the smallest sounders these days. The technology game is moving fast and while the big units are nice, the budget friendly new generation like the Helix from Humminbird offer all the barramundi finding tech in a wallet friendly bundle for all anglers to enjoy.

 

Side Imaging sonar is probably the best invention for barra fishing since, well, ever. Being able to scan up to 150 feet each side of your vessel can be invaluable for finding that sweet spot that can key you into a red-hot barra bite. Utilizing side imaging sonar is an article in itself but the main story here is you don’t need a twelve inch unit to utilize these technologies, do some research and become familiar with how to use Side Imaging and even a Helix 5 or 7 will be a barra locating machine!

 

For the electronic nuts, take side imaging and imagine a 360-degree view around your boat that would be cool right? Well, that’s what Humminbirds 360 Imaging is. A side-imaging signal is a static beam that runs perpendicular to your boats direction, on that premises, it relies on movement to scan the underwater environment. 360 Imaging is a spinning transducer that is lowered underneath your boat by either a stern mount or a trolling motor mount and allows you to scan the whole way around your boat and literally watch barramundi moving around a point as your boat is anchored stationary.

 

 

 

 

The ABT barra tour is the pinnacle of competitive barra angling for me, a southerner who only gets limited opportunities to catch these behemoths every year. To be travelling alongside some of the countries best anglers, listening to them share tips and strategies, watching them as they select which lures to use and how to approach a certain location is invaluable in becoming a better angler.

So pack your gear and plan the time off, the dates have already been set for what will surely be another week to remember as the ABT Barra Tour heads north in 2016.

 

Contract - Event Reports 2015 ABT BARRA Tour

Originally for www.abt.org.au and Fishing Monthly Magazines

Rapala was back on board after a very successful 2014 ABT Barra Tour and in 2015 the anglers and the fish turned out in great numbers. The 2015 Rapala Barra Tour visited Teemburra Dam and Peter Faust Dam near Proserpine. The scheduled event for Kinchant Dam, with advice from SunWater was relocated to Teemburra and was a resounding success.

The Team of the Year race was hotly contested like always; let’s take a look at each individual event and who took out the race for Australia’s best Barramundi anglers.

 

Teemburra Dam 2 Day Evening Event
Team Humminbird/EJ Todd (Craig Giffiths and Karim De Ridder) started the Rapala Barra Tour off in perfect style, amassing a 10/10 limit for 941cm to secure the win and one hundred points towards the prestigious Team of the Year (TOY) trophy.

The pair had spent 4 days pre-fishing for this particular event, identifying key points toward the dam wall where they could see fish holding deeper in 8-10 feet of water. The pair looked for these concentrations of fish, and then identified the likely point where the fish would move up to feed in shallower water once the sun had set over the horizon. Craig noted the wind direction as key to identifying which was going to be the best spot to produce a steady flow of fish as the night wore on. “You want the wind to be hitting the area you are fishing, this produces a small current, and that will concentrate the bait which in turn brings the Barra to you”
Using their Humminbird sounder and 360 Imaging, Craig and Karim were able to watch the Barra as they moved up onto the point, able to cast ahead of the moving fish.
The pair used a number of lures to secure the victory, most notably the Lucky Craft SKT Magnum 110 MR crankbait. This was definitely the key bait for the pair, with the large crankbait scoring 9/10 fish for the team. Karim was the master of this lure, throwing the behemoth 2oz crankbait on a Lucky Craft 701HXF rod. The specially designed cranking rod, made with a combination of graphite and fibreglass is softer than most modern day rods. Allowing the lure to bounce easier off of structure without hanging up on the bottom. Karim would launch the lure towards the shallowest part of the point, and employ a steady slow retrieve back to the boat. When the lure would bang the bottom, Karim would pause the retrieve allowing the lure to float which was when most of the strikes would come.

Craig would partner the aggressive wobbling action of the crankbait with a stealthy soft plastic approach. Fishing a modified Squidgy Slick Rig in Black/Gold. Craig loves to tinker with his lures and the Slick Rig receives more treatment than any other lure in his tacklebox. You can watch a video on how Craig likes to modify his Slick Rigs on the Fishing Monthly YouTube channel.

Fishing the same point on the Eastern side of the dam furthest towards the Dam wall both sessions, team Humminbird/EJ Todd were one of only two teams to catch their full 10/10 limit, eclipsing second place team Lowrance HDS (Geoff Bradshaw and Lachlan Achilles) by 67cm.

Overall 23 teams took part in the first event of the 2015 Rapala Barra Tour, with 22 teams scoring a total of 102 Barramundi over the two event sessions, for a healthy total length of 7655cm. Giving an average of 75.05cm, a small increase from the 73.27cm average from the 2014 tour.
The events Austackle Big Barra was caught by team Reflexion/Bassman and measured 121cm.

 

Winning Ways
Finding the best numbers of fish holding deeper during the day and identifying the point in which they will pull up and feed was key to our success in this event”

Winning Tackle
Rods: Dobyns Savvy Series 705, Lucky Craft 701HXF
Reels: Daiwa Zillion
Line: Sunline Super PE 8 30lb
Leader: Sunline FC100 60lb
Lures: Lucky Craft SKT Magnum 110MR, Lucky Craft Pointer 78 DD, Squidgy Slick Rig 130

Terminals: Upgraded to Decoy Y-W77 on Pointer 78 DD, custom made jighead with Gamakatsu SL12 #8/0 or #9/0 for Squidgy Slick Rig, with Decoy YS-21 #1 stinger.

 

Sunline Teemburra Dam Night Championship
Securing the Austackle Big Barra prize in the first two-day evening event, team Reflexion/Bassman (Ashley Sims and Dan Curry) found the numbers they lacked in the first event to claim the win in the Sunline presented Teemburra Dam Night Championship, the second stop of the 2015 Rapala ABT Barra Tour.

Arguably the toughest event on the Barra Tour, the Sunline Night Championship sees teams start fishing at 4pm, and continue fishing for 16 hours through the night, until 8am the following morning. A true test of endurance, patience and skill, team Reflexion/Bassman came out on top with a 5/5 limit for 486cm.

Modifying their approach from the previous event, Ash and Dan focused on one area of the dam, on the western side of the dam wall on a main lake point with standing timber. However it wasn’t the main point that the boys keyed in on, it was a secondary point inside the standing timber that proved to be the key spot.

The pair found the spot using Humminbirds’ AutoChart Live software, mapping the area on pre-fish day. The pair started the night on the outside edge of the timber, having only a few small fish on their score sheet they decided to move inside the timbered area and enjoyed almost immediate success.

Second cast inside the timber and Ashley hooked the teams kicker fish, a 116cm Barramundi anchoring their impressive 5/5 limit.
Again, the winning team relied on a multiple lure approach, not relying on only one style of lure to take the title.

The ever popular Squidgy Slick Rig in True Blue colour was again a favourite, and received some modifications in the shape of a #4 Owner stinger hook which was connected through the belly of the lure using crimped heavy monofilament line. The technique for the Slick Rig was fairly straightforward. Ash & Dan worked as a team, with one using the larger 5000 size reel to burn the Slick Rig enticing a reation bite, while the other used the smaller 4000 size reel and used a slow roll retrieve to cover both bases.

The other piece to the puzzle was a Jackall Transam 95, this time opting for a dark colour, to imitate red claw, which they had observed being regurgitated by some of the Barramundi they were landing.
Utilizing the Down Imaging of their Humminbird ONIX unit, the pair was able to clearly see the barramundi as the fish moved underneath their boat. On multiple occasions, team Reflexion/Bassman was able to sink the Transam under the boat and tempt those fish as they moved through. The technique was a simple long slow draw off the bottom to feel the lure vibrate, and then let the lure sink back on a semi slack line. The team noted all the bites were taken as the lure was falling back to the bottom.

Fishing the lures on a variety of Millerods paired with Shimano reels, Ash and Dan favour 20 and 30lb PowerPro SuperSlick braided line with a heavy fluorocarbon leader of around 50lb.

At the end of the marathon sixteen hour session, 18 of the 19 teams competing scored Barramundi, with 16 completing their full 5/5 session limit. In total 84 Barramundi were scored for a total combined length of 6096cm, an average length of 72.57cm.
The events Austackle Big Barra was a 122cm behemoth, caught by team Tree Huggers (Mick Weick and Brendan Barnett)

 

Winning Ways
Sticking to our plan was the big key for us in this event, we panicked and moved around too much in the evening event. We knew the big fish were in this spot and we stuck it out in the all nighter”

Winning Tackle
Rods: Millerods Beast Buster Medium-Light, Millerods Salty Barra, Millerods Toad
Reels: Shimano Biomaster 2500, Shimano Biomaster 4000, Shimano Sustain 5000, Shimano Core 100MG
Line: 20lb PowerPro Super Slick, 30lb PowerPro Super Slick
Leader: Sunline FC100 50lb & 60lb
Lures: Squidgy Slick Rig 130 True Blue, Jackall Transam 95 Ghost Black Red Belly

Terminals: Upgraded to Mustad #4 on Transam 95. Added Owner #4 ST-36BC treble as stinger on Slick Rig.

 

 

 

STORM Peter Faust 2 Day Evening Event
Peter Faust Dam near Proserpine was the last stop of the 2015 Rapala ABT Barra Tour, and again it showed why it is one of the premier Barramundi fisheries in Australia. Records were broken and champions crowned, as team Humminbird/EJ Todd (Craig Giffiths and Karim De Ridder) again stood on the podium and claimed their second win of the 2015 Barra Tour.
Compiling an ABT record 10/10 limit for 1102cm, team Humminbird/EJ Todd smashed the 6 year standing record of 1010cm by almost a metre.

Fishing a main lake point known as Faust point, the pair worked a lot wider than most, which was key to finding the big barramundi.

Faust point is a long shallow point extending a long way into the main lake on the southern edge of the dam. Emergent vegetation was visible in depths shallower than 7ft, but Craig and Karim focused on the deeper water in 10-12ft. Anchoring their boat a long way off the visible weed, targeting the edge where the weed started and stopped.
Focusing on a bite time just before the sun went down, the pair relied solely on soft plastics to claim the title. Using a variety over the course of the two sessions, the team emphasised that size was an important part of their winning tactic. Opting for lures of at least 6” in length, with the pair throwing lures as large as 9” to get the bite from the bigger Barramundi. Squidgy 170 Slick Rigs, Berkley Swim Shads and Storm R.I.P Shads some of their go-to baits.
Casting to the deeper weed, the pair would count their lures down to 3 seconds, noting that would be the perfect time to locate their lures just above the weed on the bottom. With their lures ticking the top of the weed, the pair would flick the lure free when they felt the weed, and keep in contact as the lure sank back down to the required depth. The team preferred baitcast tackle for this approach, noting the extra control they had when using the tackle. Dobyns Savvy series baitcast rods were the choice, with the right blend of bottom end power and sensitive tip to allow the Barramundi to inhale the lures for solid hook sets.

Peter Faust showed why it is the perfect venue to conclude the 2015 Rapala Barra Tour, with 95 fish hitting the brag mats over the course of the two sessions, a whopping 95.54cm average. The events Austackle Big Barra was caught by team Swamp Donkey’s Rhyce Bullimore and measured 122cm.

 

Winning Ways
Fishing a bit wider of the main visible weed, were we could see barra moving through on the down-imaging of my Humminbird Onix. Also the use of bigger lures as the night wore on, the lack of light with the new moon meant we needed a bigger profile for the fish to key in on.”

Winning Tackle
Rods: Dobyns Savvy Series 705
Reels: Daiwa Zillion
Line: Sunline Super PE 8 30lb
Leader: Sunline FC100 60lb
Lures: Berkley Swim Shad, Storm R.I.P Shad, Squidgy 170 Slick Rig, Strike King Shadalicious

Terminals: Decoy YS-21 stinger on all soft plastics, modified jig heads with swivel to hang stinger.

 

 

Team of the Year
With a near perfect score of 299 points out of a possible 300, team Humminbird/EJ Todd (Craig Griffiths and Karim De Ridder) took out the coveted Team of the Year title. “Winning Team of the Year is what it’s all about for us” Craig commented. Pointing out preparation is key, Craig adds “we start the tour off by checking that all our equipment is in perfect condition, our lines are new from the get-go and we are constantly checking leaders and sharpening hooks”

The team studies tide changes, and moon phases noting the Barramundi move with the moon phase and tend to feed in relation to the tide change. They prefer the lead up to the full moon, and believe that if you can find Barramundi in an area on a new moon, that will be an excellent spot to target on the full moon.

2nd Place team Triton Boats/Edge Rods (Dustin Sippel & Rick Napier) were consistent without notching a victory, with two third place finishes and a 4th on their way to their best result ever in the TOY points race. Team Reflexion/Bassman (Ashley Sims and Dan Curry) rounded out the podium in 3rd only one point behind 2nd place.

 

 

With the dates already set for the 2016 Barra Tour, if you are interested in attending, learning from some of the best barramundi anglers in Australia and having an absolute blast fishing some of the hottest impoundments in Australia you can head to www.abt.org.au

Contract - Porque No Los Dos?

Originally for Australian Bass Tournaments www.abt.org.au

Why don't we have both? More importantly, why don't you have both? Bream and Bass that is!

Anthony Thorpe has been in ABT circles since 2008. A seasoned veteran of the BREAM series, Thorpe recently turned his attention to the freshwater as he looks to improve upon an impressive first season over the 2016 ABT BassCat BASS Pro series. Thorpe almost had the perfect start to his 2015 BASS campaign; narrowly missing the win at the season opener on Lake St. Clair, and finishing second to the Victorian fish catching machine, Warren Carter. Thorpe went on to finish the season in seventh place in the Angler of the Year points race, even though he opted out of the final qualifier of the year.

Thorpe came into the 2015 BASS Pro series after arguably his most successful season on the BREAM tour which he finished in fifth place in AOY. So why the sudden change from the salt to the fresh? A set of new challenges and a sense of readiness was just the push that Thorpe needed. “I felt that with what I’ve learnt over the last couple of years fishing the impoundments in the Hunter Valley, along with the confidence I have gained through my results on the BREAM tour over the last couple of years, 2015 was the write time to jump ship and compete a full season on the ABT BASS Pro tour and be competitive doing it.”

The NSW impoundments of St Clair and Glenbawn lend themselves really well to the skills and techniques mastered over years on the BREAM tour. All too often NSW bass anglers are faced with a finesse bite, whether it’s the wintertime shallow style soft-plastic bite, or the deep water vertical ‘grubbing’ that dominates warm weather tournaments. It’s those times when Thorpe believes the skills he has learnt on the salty water prepare him for success on the fresh. “A lot of the time with bream fishing we have to take a finesse approach due to high pressure situations, I feel that I have been able to adapt this to my bass fishing and it’s resulted in some great success for me.”

The first leg of the 2016 BassCat BASS Pro series kicks off in early March, and Thorpe is sure to feature on the leader boards when the NSW road trip rolls around. Three top-ten finishes at the two venues last year would seem to back up this assumption of success for Thorpe in 2016. Though, it’s more than just success on the leader board that keeps him coming back, hungry for more. “The best part about the BASS Pro series is the people you meet, how willing the anglers are to help each other out and how relaxed the events are, that’s what really drew me to them.”

Anglers that cross over and dabble in both species is something that’s been more and more common over the last few years. With anglers like Kris Hickson, Tom Slater and Warren Carter fishing all or parts of both tours with great success. No longer are anglers content to stick to a singular species, the crossover of techniques and tackle is greater than it’s ever been and there’s no better time than now to expand and try your hand at a new species in 2016.

Contract - Hunting Wahoo

Originally for Adreno Spearfishing.

The pull of the pelagic species that call the waters Australia home is undoubtedly one of the biggest draw cards for Australian spear fisherman. Wahoo are regarded as one of the fastest fish in the ocean, and spearing one is highly sought after for even very experienced hunters.
Wahoo can be found from the north coast of NSW right around the top of Australia to Exmouth in Western Australia. Although sporadic encounters occur outside of these boundaries, specifically targeting a wahoo outside of these areas would be worth querying.
Wahoo are one of the fastest growing fish in our oceans during their first year of life. With specimens captured from the Coral Sea growing as fast as 3.7mm per day. That astonishing growth rate can only be matched by the incredible growth rates of mahi mahi or the much larger sailfish. Growth rates slow dramatically as the fish reach maturity, which can be reached within a year at lengths of 1-1.1m fork length, by almost half the females studied from the Coral Sea.

Their spawning habits are equally as speedy, with females spawning as often as every two to three days over spawning season. Releasing between 500,000 and 6 million eggs during each spawning event. That massive effort put into reproduction probably explains why the growth rate slows dramatically once the fish reach maturity.

Wahoo are generally a clean water fish, meaning you’re unlikely to find them if the waters around your usual haunts are murky due to inclement weather. Look for them around deeper submerged reefs and ledges or areas with good current flow. Reefs extending to anywhere around 15-40m of depth is generally a very good place to start. Look for them between the surface and fifteen metres down, usually floating over or adjacent to the structure below.

Wahoo’s incredible speed means you need to be geared up to try and spear one of these speedsters. A gun-equipped reel holding between 50-80m of line is recommended, and a belt mounted backup reel, which you can connect to your gun, is never frowned upon. As for the gun itself, you will want to reach for something with a decent amount of power, even with the use of berley and teasers or flashers you aren’t always going to get as close as you’d want. A long shot of 4-5m isn’t uncommon and a gun producing enough force to securely penetrate is a must. Generally roller guns of around 1m in length or standard double rubber guns of 120-130 are the most common.

Over the 2016 Easter break Adreno members Wayne Judge and Waade Madigan managed to spear a couple of great wahoo from the waters off North Stradbroke Island. The pair made comment of the need to be patient when targeting pelagics like wahoo, noting it’s easy to get flustered when you’re descending into a school of likely targets. Move slowly, act naturally and you should be able to ‘float’ to within range. Experienced spearo Wayne always recommends working in pairs, as the ever present danger of sharks is especially apparent when spearing fish that fight as hard as wahoo.
When you’ve done all the hard work and got your wahoo onboard, make sure you bleed the fish right away and get the fish onto ice or into a slurry as quickly as possible. Wahoo is a fantastic eating fish and is perfect for sushi or sashimi as well as a variety of other methods like grilling, crumbing or baking.
Wahoo are a species that every spear fisherman should target, the thrill of the hunt in open water and the fight they put on leaves most for dead. If you’re ever thinking about targeting wahoo or any other pelagics the crew at Adreno have the experience and the know how to put you in the right direction.

 

Contract - Spearfishing North Stradbroke

Originally for Adreno Spearfishing.

Spearing North Stradbroke

 

North Stradbroke Island is one of the best local locations for spearfishing in the southeast. It presents a myriad of challenges for even the most experienced freediver or spear fisher, yet can quench the thirst of a total newcomer with some relatively basic dives and species to encounter on your first trip.

The waters around the tip of North Stradbroke are home to some of Southeast Queensland’s best spearfishing target species. Pelagics such as Spanish mackerel, kingfish and wahoo frequent the area, as do reef species like sweetlip, snapper and cod.

 

To access the waters off North Stradbroke you’ll need a boat capable of crossing the South Passage Bar located in-between Straddy and Moreton Island. Bar crossing should not be taken lightly and experience is key.

 

South Passage Bar is one of the widest and longest bar crossings that Australian spearos will encounter. If you haven’t crossed it before you should find someone who has plenty of experience and ask if you can learn some tips.  There are generally three different channels you can take and they are constantly moving and evolving as the wind and waves shape the sand through the bar. Amity Channel is the southernmost channel, there’s a middle channel, which can be fickle at the best of times and finally the northern most channel, which is widely accepted as being the most consistent option.

 

Once you’ve navigated the bar crossing you’re lucky to find yourself faced with heaps of options. There’s plenty of shallow ground around ‘the group’, which is a series of rock structures that break the surface just off the tip of the main island. The most notable of these is known as ‘Boat Rock’ and is a fantastic option for a number of sought after species. Care should be taken around the group due to strong currents and rolling swells. An experienced boat driver and someone with good local knowledge are paramount for a good first experience. There’s numerous coffee rock reefs around the area and all are worth a look with a possibility of some nice fish.

 

Dive depths can vary from as little as a couple of meters around the headlands and group to upwards of 25m on deeper coffee rock reefs or ledges.

You can expect to encounter almost anything when diving the waters around North Stradbroke. The shallow headlands can be home to numerous species of trevally, as well as tailor, dart, jewfish and staple species like bream and morwong. Moving out to the group you can expect to encounter larger species such as giant trevally, kingfish, mahimahi, mackerel or wahoo moving around with the current.

 

If you look closely around the structure you can expect to find cod, various sweetlip, as well as snapper, tuskfish, and other reef dwelling species. In the bluewater you’ll likely encounter speedsters like wahoo, Spanish mackerel, cobia, trevally, mahimahi and at the right time of year juvenile black marlin are fairly common.


As with any spear fishing, sharks are always a concern but one that should not stop you entering the water. Adreno’s Wayne Judge has been spearing for longer than most and believes the key to feeling safe in the water is to assert your dominance to any sharks in the area. Show them you aren’t prey and be sure to stand your ground. Diving the waters off Stradbroke is not for the faint hearted, and divers just beginning in the sport should make sure to always dive with other experienced fishers.

 

The waters off North Stradbroke are home to some of the most desirable species in Southeast Queensland. If you’re new to the sport or new to the area, Adreno has the team with the real world experience to get you started on the right track.

 

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