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SPECIES GUIDES

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ARNHEMLAND REUNION

Shaun Taylor

I always get the same feeling flying into the Barralodge, a type of nervous anticipation for the events that will unfold, peering out the aircraft window looking for water holding on the flood plains and the water colour of the mighty Liverpool River as we descend into Maningrida. I was really looking forward to this stint, as well as guiding a return client that I had become good mates with it was also a chance to catch up with my younger brother Andrew who was guiding full time at the lodge.

As usual, I had overdone it in the tackle department and the excess baggage police had loved me, setting up a nice little retirement fund from the weight of my three large bags and rod tube! You know what it's like people, gotta cover all options right? Lodge manager Dave Thomas shook his head with a knowing chuckle as we loaded the gear into the troopie, although I was only there for two weeks... it looked like I was moving back for the season!

I had arranged for a camping trip with Andrew after our guiding commitments were completed and after a very happy and fished out group of clients departed it was time to pack the boat with gear and get out and catch a few ourselves! My plan was to fish a coastal creek an hour's ocean run from Maningrida. This is my all-time favourite spot, although it is a difficult creek to enter and fish. Large shallow flats, with no real channel, guard the creek and make entry difficult. Attempt this at the wrong time and you could find yourself in for a long wait, or pushing the boat in crocodile infested waters (which I don't recommend)!

We skated in on a receding tide, which is the worst scenario, but made it safely inside the mouth of the creek, where a shallow channel allowed us to travel further upstream. This creek only gets about 9' deep in the deepest sections and is separated by shallow corners that virtually go dry on the low tide. Because of this I had to pick a section to fish and 'lock in' for the rest of the run out tide.

We picked a junction where another smaller creek was running out into the main creek creating a great looking eddy, while also providing some great looking snags, including a lay down log that ran all the way across the smaller creek. This area had produced for me in the past and I hoped it would again, as we were now stuck here until the tide started to push in again.

We quickly rigged up our gear, with Andrew going for a Rootbeer Gold ZMan 3" Minnowz, while I chose my favourite Redbone Glow 3". It was Andrew's first look at the new ChinlockZ and HeadlockZ HD hooks and I could see he was stoked with the design, along with the fact that they would make rigging a whole lot easier, especially when you had three clients to look after in a hot bite. Eliminating the need for messy glues was another plus and the ChinlockZ have now become his go-to hook for weedless rigging for barra.

Back to the session though and our choice had proved correct, as both our first casts were nailed by hungry barra! Casting the MinnowZ into the corner eddy and retrieving them slowly out into the main river, over a sandbar drop off, saw most casts intercepted by eager fish! As stated earlier, this is a shallow coastal creek and the clear water allowed us to see a lot of the takes and also fish cruising past the boat, which of course were sight cast to.

We started mixing it up a bit, I changed to a Gold Rush (Black and Gold) 3", whilst Andrew went for Chartreuse Glow. We sat the boat in the deepest part of the corner hole, which by now was only about four feet deep and cast along the sandbar drop off. A school of good sized tarpon had taken up residence in the slightly deeper water and they eagerly attacked the plastics. The Chartreuse Glow 3" ended up taking the most fish.

By now the tide had almost fully ebbed and the smaller creek was very shallow, exposing some large lay down snags in the middle of the creek. Andrew changed to a surface lure which was smashed on the first cast! I quickly cut my loop knot and removed the weight from my rig, re-tying the 3" Gold Rush MinnowZ weightless, which my Millerods Control Freak lcm delivered in amongst the fallen timber. The MinnowZ hardly made it out of the structure before another hungry barra smashed it on the surface. Although these weren't large barra, you really had to stick it to them in the shallow water and the explosive strikes and frantic battles were great fun!

The action slowed as the tide stopped, but the start of the run in let us explore further up the creek and fish the many snag piles, eddies and junctions. We changed to ZMan 4" SwimmerZ and Andrew scored a nice jack on the first snag pile upstream from our junction hole. The SwimmerZ are many anglers favourite jack placcy and they didn't let us down, nailing jacks, barra and a healthy thready that came to the boat like a tiddler, before switching on the afterburners and screaming off down the creek. I then changed back to a 3" Redbone Glow MinnowZ rigged weedless and I walked this through the nastiest of snag piles only to get stitched up good and proper by what I would bet was a nice jack.

It had been a fantastic day, catching up with my bro and fishing these awesome waterways. It's a long way from our past, working the streams of western Victoria for trout, canoeing the Clarence for bass and fishing our home waters of Hervey Bay for all types of species. I knew once he got up to the territory he would fall in love with the joint, like I did, and he has already signed on for next season! I also have several groups booked for next year, so I look forward to catching up again in god's country! Even the tropical storm that closed in on us that night, as we camped at the mouth of the creek, couldn't put a dampener on the trip... as we knew that pre-dawn, on the start of the run in, barra would be boofing along the beach and we would be ready for them armed with our TT and ZMan lures!

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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2017