Estuaries make up a large proportion of areas fished by anglers, particularly in the northern coastal areas of Australia in the search of estuary species such as Barramundi and Threadfin Salmon. Accurate casting is the key to success in these estuaries as it is hardly a random cast when you are out hunting for these predators who themselves are out hunting for the preys such as herrings, mullets that swim into the safe haven of the shallow water during the low tides. At least that’s what the baitfish thinks and that’s what are lure is supposed to behave…a foolish bait fish. Casting it into the strike zone and then working the lure to imitate the movements of these bait fish just to get whack by these predators is something we anticipate even before we do get whacked. The moment your lure gets the attention and the hits,misses & hookups just sends the chills down your spine. Fighting it well to land and a quick photo before the safe release is what the sport fishermen aspires…on to the next target then.
Travelling and Fishing Northern Australia…what every sport fishermen ever spawned dreams of an extended fishing holiday to some remote and wild location where species would queue up to smash their well-presented bait or lure. This is the ultimate sportfishing “sportfish” and the big barramundi is what many anglers would dream of landing. It involves constant homework! If you are into it, it would be expected that you do your homework as to where you may find these monsters, what they eat, types of lures…whether hard or soft, periods where you will find them, guides that would be able to bring you to these locations as well. With all the homework done, you do have to contend to the uncertainties of the current weather patterns or rather not patterns since the uncertainties of storms, cold spell, windy conditions etc. You simply need to have an extra stroke of luck…and it makes a whole lot of difference when you have that divine assistance on your side just to hook them and then land them for that picture before releasing them back it came from….
Winds picked up in the late afternoon as the tide rises towards its peak and makes it rather difficult to have a good long cast with our lures into the strong wind facing the bank. Bob decided to cast with the wind and have his lure into the open section of the port side, a few cranks into his retrieve he was smashed and was already into the fight with what we knew was a beast. 25mins into the fight, we see the massive 1.2 metre long Barramundi surfaced for the first time. As soon as the image of the monster Barramundi registered into the brain of the tired angler, things changed and adrenaline levels rises. Fight changes with the anxiety of landing what might be a record size Barramundi. After some photos, the beast was landed for a couple more pictures before release after a quick revival. Because of the hard fight, both fish and angler needed to rest, the Barramundi was then released and swam away feeling defeated but yet relieved that it was not the kill we were after.
Barramundi are not clean fighters…they don’t charge with just brute strength but often may shake its massive jaws to try to dislodge the hooked lure or even stretch them to break hooks. Leaping out of the surface to smash the lure across the surface of water and if all else fails will open its jagged blades on the side plates of its gill cover to cut the leaders which often are already frayed by its sandy-like lips.
Learn more of our decades long chase of this amazing sportfish School of Fish, Singapore
The difference in coastal fishing is that you never really know what you would catch or even what’s hook on the other end of your line. With experience, you might have a clue if its a reef fish or a pelagic that snatched your lure. The sporadic turns and jerks may very well give you a small clue that its a grouper. But, when you are hooked on a somewhat pelagic fish, its like a freight train and you can’t do much except to watch your line and await you turn to react with your retrieval of the tens of metres of line that screamed out of your small little baitcaster. Then you begin to wonder if we should chase the fish with the boat as the line thins and the spool is small. It’s a 20 minute fight before you see colour emerging and as it breaks the surface, confirmation of the catch and its a rare Diamond Trevally or some say its a pennant fish. There are like tens of types of trevallies and this is a streamlined rocket which is not as muscular but yet not with a good fight. Caught this with small soft plastic swimbait on a jig head but its the richness of the ocean coupled with the right tidal movements that almost guarantee you a fish, if you know what I mean.
For many years, Big Barramundis safaris where we seek them during runoffs, remote islands has been about using big hard body lures. The larger lure tend to attract the bigger fish or that’s what many thought. But, we know for a fact that an unwilling hunter such as a big Barramundi is often lazy and would not go about out chasing bait fishes with the smaller schoolies, small barras. The idea then is to use a lure too big for small barramundis so that the larger predator can take their time to eat these large hard body lures. Little did we know that if they are unwilling to take a hit at our offerings far away from their mouth that we have indeed to bring the lure closer to their eye level. In fact these big Barras do like soft plastics if only we can bring them closer to them before some small fellow barra swallow the lure that we are trying to entice the big mama to take a hit. Our solution if then to use a weighted Jig Head with our soft plastic shad tail and practically drag it across their nose. It might not get it on the 1st attempt but with repetitions, these soft plastics are just to hard to resist and not hard to swallow…Gulp and we are onto a big one…Metre sized Barramundi, The ultimate sportfish downunder.
Bull Shark Attacks! Frustrations arise when the Bulls join in our fun and we can hardly understand why these predators would not seek their own preys but instead choose to snatch our prized catches. Perhaps its the vibes generated by these Barramundis we hooked up and their fight with us turns ugly when a 3rd predator joins in the action. Its not easy to locate these large specimen of Barramundis without the indepth knowledge of established fishing guides. Our fishing is guided too! We don’t have the much needed updated knowledge of the terrain, its snags, new ones or old ones destroyed, flying thousand of miles into a vast territory makes sense that we do need to know the area that we would be hunting. Of course, that’s where these Bull Sharks are lurking too! These Bull Sharks will do their own hunting but nothing gives them more pleasure than to challenge us to the fight. Its common that when we hook up a good sized Barramundi that it would give it a good dash and stripping line off our bait-casters on the outfit that we offer them a fair fight with us. Fair Fight means we give these sport fishes a good chance to break our lines, throw our lures that are hook in their mouths…No oversized tackle, usually our 8-20lb outfit. But, sometimes these put the Barramundis at risks as they fight against us and cause more commotion to attract Sharks or Crocodiles in the vicinity. The Barramundi that we hooked up is the 1st predator that pounced on our soft plastics or hard body lures – a presentation of a helpless prey, that we worked so painstakingly to entice a bite, we the angler is the my idea of the 2nd predator as we strike on the hits and fight to bring the barramundi onto the boat for a quick photo before release. Then out of nowhere, comes a 3rd predator – The Bull Shark that chases our catch – The struggling Barramundi and grabs the Barramundi in its razor shark jaws and runs with it. In the beginning, we might just mistaken that its the big fish putting on a good fight but it becomes weird as the line strips faster than usual or our hooked Barramundi is jumping frantically out of the comforts of the pristine water. Splashes and then the fighting game ends with the line becoming loose, either the Shark has snapped our line or the Barramundi halved and eaten alive. Surprisingly, the massive bleeding does not trigger further attacks from other sharks and for the angler…the meter-sized Barramundi lost!
Barramundi, a very sought after sport fish is also one that can be lazy when the tide movements are slow. During the low tides, either down or up, these predators can be sitting on mud flats waiting for the change of tide movements. They could also be waiting for innocent bait fish to swim into the muddy waters, thinking that they are well concealed. Both predator, Barramundi and prey such as Mullets think that they are both well covered. But, we know that they are there from the sounders and to cast our soft plastics into the line of travel to have our lure bounce right into their line of sight. As soon as the lure comes into the sight of the predator, it would be hard for it to resist.
Advance Electronics have made finding reefs or wrecks much easier than it has ever been. Gone are days when the Captain has to time his course to hopefully throttle to the vicinity of Groupers producing pile of rocks. With the reliable electronic anchors with built-in GPS, exact bearings can be held over and over again. Advanced radar, sonar, mapping and GPS has done much for bottom fishers. With the correct tidal movements, Fishers can then use presentable soft plastics lures to bring their offerings right to their posts.
School of Fish, Singapore with a random fishing session demonstrating that the DOA C.A.L range is indeed a catch anything lure. Ranging from predators like Fingermarks, Golden Snappers, Red Snappers, Mangrove Jacks and Barramundis, the DOA Shad Tails are favoured by a majority of lure eating fishes. Simply pick up some of your favourite colours of DOA 3″ Shad Tails or what you think might work and pair them with the DOA Jig Heads of various colours and weights. Simpler still is to just pick up one of those pre-selected sets and you should be on the right track to catching some of these targeted predators.