It started as a standard trip, an early morning run with the intention to chill and hunt metre plus fish. The week had been stressful, life has its moments and the call of the wild had me on edge. Instinct directed my energy toward a suitable spot, known for large fish on big tides, but not just that, known for big fish visiting in the prevailing weather conditions, during spring, late October and just prior to the full lunar peak. 24hrs later they’d be gone.
The fish were sounded and the boat positioned to suit a favoured cast angle, a technique refined over the last 18 years.
The first few casts returned with no interest which wasn’t surprising considering the finer detail and environmental intricacies were telling me the fish wouldn’t feed at that point in time. Yes, trust me, a gazillion years observing animals and barra does eventually unravel some mind blowing stuff about their behaviour that’s at first hard to accept, then later on so amazing you just shake your head in awe at how nature works.
After five casts of the 130mm soft paddletail, some variation was added to the retrieve (a method used to fool ‘not so keen fish) and the first fish struck instantly, followed by another- both landed, in the mid 90 cm range.
By now the morning’s existing fish pattern was detected and would likely continue as long as the conditions prevailed.
The next hour was a blur, even after a long life history with barra some sessions just make you glow. 13 fish were hooked in the next hour, 11 of those landed, all over a metre in length, the longest at 1170mm, the smallest at 1020mm with multiple around 1100mm.
The crazy thing about barra is their energy levels, sometimes they’re lethargic, other times hyper, yet this time they were mellow. They would strike gently, pull ok but weren’t entering that balistic mode barra can be known for.
Their gentle behaviour helped with the overall result, no wild explosions, no furious bursts through the school- just steady runs. This also made it easier to land each fish, plus they were quiet on deck. Often is the case that hooking pressured fish can spook others, where one or two can be landed before the rest shift or ‘shut up shop.’
Decades ago, catching two (metre wild barra) in a night was my ultimate goal, that 20 year learning journey filled with strong memories, hard lessons, reward and lots of emotion – EMOTION helps lessons stick. These days I’m beyond that original dream where large barra are now daily catches and hot sessions in short time windows are common.
The funny side of this is those 13 barra were landed while still in my pj boxer shorts, such was the plan to be out and back in a very short time. Who needs to change when you’re already comfortable?!
As I teach this barra trade through a weekend Masterclass seminar it highlights the huge gaps and components missing in an angler’s book of knowledge. There’s a huge kick in helping anglers grow to this highly advanced level of knowledge- content that stretches the brain of everyone who walks into the seminar, including high end tournament fishermen and guides.
The session of 13 barra, (once the code was cracked) was near the equivalent of a fish every second cast for the duration, many times a ‘fish per cast’.
* Gear used- 30lb braid, 100lb leader, 7/0 hook, 1 ounce jighead, 130mm plastic paddletail heavily glued to the hook and jighead.
A fast, aggressive response from the angler on the strike puts more fish on deck, the faster the line comes tight the better, the more an angler dictates to the fish the better. This can’t be done effectively with lighter drag settings, or lighter leaders. (100lb is my go to starting point)
Heavy pressure creates more chafe, you simply can’t avoid chafe while asking for maximum hook penetration when striking or responding gently. All 15 strikes were met with fast response, landing 13 from 15 is about an 86% conversion.
A large barra with jaws and gills closed tight by muscles can create pressure greater than your drag setting, the fish able to momentarily clamp prey (lure) inside like a vice.
Heavy drags combat this; forcing the lure to be dragged while inside the mouth, the hook point/s digging in before the lure can be ejected. File hook points or use a stone, I stoned the hook point between fish, it takes approximately 4 seconds and doesn’t slow you down.
Everywhere anglers turn in fishing they’re met with some kind of problem. Problems need to be met with solutions, solutions then change your perception. Every new piece of the puzzle transforms an individual to a point where the level of experience and scrutiny takes on a new look.
As we grow, the inspiring content drives a change in how we see the environment, animal, our approach, systems, strategies and feelings towards the natural world and how we choose to engage with it. In Masterclass we teach how to become at one with her, rather than a disconnected visitor.
Understand the animal and environment first, then you can do whatever you dream after that!