When Tavis and wife Jen moved to the Northern Territory in early 2020, he was pumped to be targeting the ultimate Aussie sportfish, the barramundi. Turns out his hopes of easily snagging a few of these iconic fish were dashed when he realised, they are not that thick in the water.
Tavis tells a solid yarn of his Barra with the best of them… preferably around the campfire.
Australia has been going through El Niño events over the last few years and it has created some extremely poor wet seasons in the top end. A good wet season is vital to the healthy stocks of barramundi as the mature fish head down to the estuaries for spawning when the rivers flood.
Knowing this, I make sure that when I’m fishing for these legends, I meticulously tie each knot and prepare every rig so if I do happen to hook up, I will not be wasting mine or the fish’s time. These fish do not muck around and their willingness to leap into the air shaking a hook makes them an exhilarating fight.
I had marked this fishing session in my diary earlier in the week. The tides were good, the moon just right, and it also happened to be the end of the week. I’d rigged up a paternoster rig using Black Magic 20lb leader and an Owner 8/0, all anchored by no:4 Snapper lead. My rod and reel choices were the Shimano Thunnus 4000 and Shimano Raider 8kg.
First thing to do after knocking off work Friday arvo was grab my gear and get me some bait. The tide was coming in and I needed to get to my rock and start fishing otherwise I would miss the magic window.
With just the one live bait I set up and cast out.
I was sitting admiring the perfect conditions all around me, the water was cloudy, a little bit of wind chop, setting sun, I was feeling confident.
Suddenly, a huge dark figure skimmed the surface. I’d encountered crocks in the area before. I jumped to my feet, ready to bail onto the big safety rock behind me. Thankfully, my old friend the dugong lifted its head for a breath, which gave me a chance to do the same thing.
As it passed, I noticed the rod tip quivering with a very nervous live bait attached and then, BANG! The rod buckled and the line went slack, the barra knew he was hooked, and he was running at me trying to shake it out. I grabbed the rod and wound like a mad man. When the weight comes on, I know it’s a good fish. Next the acrobatics began, I began to wonder if I was slightly under gunned. I could see on one of the leaps that that circle hook was lodged nicely in the corner of the mouth and I then had the confidence to play this big fella out. In the end, I washed him onto the pebbles beside me and was able to lip grip him.
I thanked him very much for the fight and told him he was coming home to meet Jen.
A whopping 80cm (about the length of a cricket bat) on the brag mat and an incredibly happy wife. We had more than enough for a beautiful meal, so we gave the head and frame to our delighted neighbour who was keen to make soup.
In return, our neighbour gave us some pawpaw, which we used to make a salad to accompany the fish, delicious! Isn’t that what fishing is about?