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BACK TO BARRALODGE

By Shaun Taylor

One of the best things about working for Barralodge for a long period of time is that occasionally I get to take a mate or two up there to show them the awesomeness that abounds in both the fishing and the country. Even experienced fishos are often blown away with the place, but when it is what you would call novices, (sometimes referred to as 'gumbys') well it really is an eye opener.

My latest trip was probably one of my most enjoyable, not because of the barra going nuts, far from it, as the tides weren't ideal and because of this it was going to restrict our entry and exit times to systems that I wanted to fish. No, it was because I was taking three barra newbies, who happen to make up our work car pool and have become my best mates over the last 4 years.

It also helps that they are three of the maddest buggers you would ever meet, and I was sure there was going to be many laughs and hopefully some good fish. Now I don't have to hold back with these blokes and to say they were average fisherman would be insulting average fisherman everywhere!

For instance Mark 'Burner' Raeburn often told me that the surest way to fail on any fishing trip was to make sure he was on board!  He reckons he couldn't get a bite at Seaworld. I had previously got him a small black marlin on his first trip out in my Scout and I think this had made him think that maybe he wasn't doomed to a life of donuts, indeed he was first to commit to the Barralodge trip and I assured him if he went fishless at Barralodge it was time to buy some golf clubs!

Big John Coulston and Pauly Lindeman were of a similar skill level, so I made sure in the lead up to the trip that they at least got the basics of casting down, for as they were to discover with barra especially, the difference between getting a bite and being in the trees or too far off the snags is minimal.

We used various techniques in the creeks, with my old favourite 'go-to' ZMan 3" MinnowZ and ZMan 4" Diezel MinnowZ working well. I matched them to the awesome new TT Lures SnakelockZ system (especially amongst the snags). The boys picked up the method of 'walking' their plastics through the snags pretty quickly, and the weedless qualities of this setup gave some leniency when errant casts ended up in the jungle.

None of the boys wanted to win the 'Don Burke' award, awarded to the angler who spent most time in the trees, so this was extra incentive to improve their casting skills. Big John took the points in the creeks, probably because he had been on one trip with me previously, knew what to expect and also had done the most practice at home.

Sexy Mullet, Rootbeer Gold and Gold Rush all worked well, but alas most of our barra were smaller models, with the metre plus models eluding us. Still, the numbers made up for it and Pauly and Burner caught more fish in the one day than they had in their whole lives.

Luckily the wind gods smiled favourably on us as I had hoped, allowing us to do some offshore work to make up for the limited 'prime time' barra shots we were going to get. This was all new to the boys and I loved this, as often anglers come to this area totally focussed on barra and miss out on the awesome pelagic and bottom fish action.

Queenies were soon to become a favourite and with good-sized fish in numbers, this made for a baptism of fire for the 'car pool crew'. Almost every fish landed was a new species for the boys and it read like a who's who of tropical sportfish. Queenies, Spanish macks, longtails, GT's, brassys, coral trout, blue bone, threadies and big blue salmon, tricky snapper, fingermark, various cod, etc., etc.

I mostly fished the boys on ZMan 5" Scented Jerk ShadZ and ZMan 5" Scented PaddlerZ, due to their versatility and attraction to a wide array of species.  Coconut Ice Glow, Sexy Mullet and my old favourite Redbone Glow were our best colours, matched up to 3/4oz TT Lures HeadlockZ HD jigheads in 5/0 and 6/0.

Burner quickly became the blue bone specialist, after nailing several nice specimens and these were destined for the skilled hands of the lodge chef. As well as catching new species I was keen for the boys to sample some of the eating qualities of these northern species, blue bone and golden snapper in particular.

As I mentioned earlier, these characters are ratbags and some of the practical jokes and stunts that followed just can't be printed here! The boys were lucky to experience an extra aspect to the trip, as lodge owner Alex had asked me to deliver a Landcruiser back to Darwin, so instead of flying out it was a six hour drive through Arnhemland and Kakadu, and crossing the famous Cahills crossing before hitting the bitumen. It is my favourite drive anywhere, with awesome scenery and river crossings, wildlife and quite a few fishing options as well, with billabongs and freshwater streams hiding away down the many side tracks. Needless to say, it is a trip we will all remember until the end of our days, but hopefully we will repeat it sometime soon.

Shaun Taylor

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017