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BARRA ON TOP

Dave Brace

We left home with the anticipation, anxiety and excitement, along with the sense of unknown that encompasses you before you reach a new destination 1000 kilometres from home. Like any good trip to a barra Impoundment some research is required before loading the trusty ute with your favourite fishing gear and lures. With barramundi in our line of sights, we equipped ourselves with the arsenal needed to bring these fish boat side and we hit the road.

With knowledge gained from this invaluable research and time on the water from past expeditions on these barra impoundments, we headed north to Central Queensland. We left home knowing some of these impoundments we were to visit for the first time had some vast shallow weed beds that aligned their edges, along with deeper sections of interest. Before we left on our journey, a selection of lures were carefully chosen for all situations, but it was in the weed beds where lines were drawn in the water and this arena was where trials and challenges, heartache and tribulations lay before us... could we outwit these golden and silver flanked barramundi that resided in these lush, green weed beds?

Armed with several varieties of soft plastics and hard bodied lures, it was the ZMan 6" SwimmerZ that stood triumphant over any other lure used throughout the duration of our fishing on these barra Impoundments, whilst chasing these iconic fish. Our ZMan SwimmerZ were rigged with lightly weighted TT Lures Snake Head and Snagless Weight System (SWS) jigheads, which from our own past experiences have proven to be ever so reliable and robust, able to take any punishment that these freight trains could dish out.

It didn't take long to crack a pattern, retrieving these lures reasonably quickly across the surface, resulted in hooking up to our first barra for the trip, which buried itself in the weed after jumping on several occasions as it attempted to throw the hook, to no avail. Soon after, an 85cm barramundi found itself being photographed and measured before its release. This was to be the first of many more barra caught on this particular trip.

Within these vast weed beds, we soon discovered small pockets of deeper water that provided good cover for an ambush predator, such as these feisty barra. These pockets allowed them to smash unsuspecting baitfish, or in our case a lure, off the surface. Every hook-up we experienced saw the TT Lures jighead locked right in the hinge of the barra's jaws, giving us extreme confidence that our odds were very high in terms of pulling these big fish boat side.

In some areas, where past rains had formed creeks that would flow into these lakes from heavy run off rain within their catchment areas, we also noticed that the underwater weed had formed weed hedges and passages of deeper water, allowing us to venture further into this underwater wonderland, casting our ZMan lures deeper into the water column. However, it was on the top layer of water where the action was most prevalent. So that's where you'd find us, casting lures in 6 inches of water above the weed with these barramundi in an aggressive feeding mode, willingly picking off our ZMan lures.

Our hook-up rate was quite high for using these weedless or snagless rigs, which was very encouraging. We were most impressed with the action of these lures though and they excited these brawlers. Another impressive feature was their strength and durability, still fishable after the constant and demanding abuse that they received in our short time on these impoundments.

The technique used in the shallows was a high rod tip action with an above normal, fast retrieve, skimming the lure across the top of the water which made for a deadly action. Watching an explosion of water erupt before you as the reaction strike of the barramundi engulfs the lure made for a tremendous visual spectacle.

In the slightly deeper water, a slower retrieve was possible. We were still using a high rod action to keep the lure above the weed, yet allowing it to be slightly submerged below the surface using a slower rolling retrieve. This provided a different, but still exhilarating view on how these fish hunt. Watching bow waves from the barramundi appear behind the lure, getting larger and larger as these untamed fish encroached on the lures tail and leaving you waiting in extreme anticipation before your imitation bait was slammed by a fired up fish that was unaware, or unconcerned about our presence.

With the rod loaded up and the barra well and truly hooked, line screams off the reel, the sound of the ringside bell is rung in my head and another round begins. Fighting the fish with lower rod angles helps to prevent these notorious fish from jumping, lessening the chance of the hooks coming free.

Sometimes battles are won, sometimes they're lost, but with the right preparation, equipment, and favourable lure presentations, battles with these Aussie Icons can be more often won than lost.

Check out the new ChinlockZ SWS, the same TT Snagless Weight System, but with a 'chin lock' feature to lock your ZMan in place on the hook.

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017