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Robbie Wells

After two days spent around the jetty of madness reality hit hard the next morning as we awoke to a stiff 20-25 southerly and plummeting air temperatures. Our only realistic option was to head up the channel chasing winter barra. With no real Solar/Lunar phase to get excited about and 17.9 degree water temperature, there was no doubt we would have to work hard to pick up a few fish.

The Plan was to fish the waters around the Herbert and Seymour, in particular the heavily timbered area around the old fishing huts. As the tide drops fish head to the shallower flats and drains out the front. Upon arrival at the huts the Humminbird side scan showed awesome country, with a couple of nice ledges and drop offs, all covered in heavy timber... but no real shows. We had an ideal slow drift so I dropped a 1/4oz TT Snake Head jighead, rigged weedless on a ZMan 5" Grass KickerZ. I could feel it bumping and rolling over every bit of obstacle. My wife Sue opted to use a ZMan 4" SwimmerZ rigged weedless and Jeff was peppering the banks and bumping a Halco Scorpion through the timber. After four drifts and not a rattle from even a fingermark, it was time to move as this spot usually produces reasonably quickly before they shut down. A spot that just screams barra and fingermark, but not today... conditions were tough.

With around an hour before low, we fished a section of sloping flats with a few drains that were just starting to show the last of the mangrove roots, as well as a promising increased in water temperature. Again the drift was kind to us as we proceeded to pepper every nook and barra cranny we could see. This produced only a couple of rat barra, caught after changing to a ZMan 3" Scented ShrimpZ in Glow colour, rigged on a Snake Head and using a really mega-slow hop and retrieve technique.

We approached a small, but deeper and longer drain and Sue fired out her 4" SwimmerZ and again commenced a mega-slow retrieve. About halfway back she gave it a five second pause and two winds later the shallow water erupted and a solid barra started zigzagging its way towards the boat. Sue frantically tried to get some slack line back. The barra was no more than three feet away when it proceeded to do the u-turn from hell, followed by a humungous jump beside the boat. In classic barramundi fashion, mouth open, head shaking, it was like slow motion as I watched the poor old ZMan fly towards us and hit the side of the boat.

 A solid chrome, 80cm plus barra raced off as if still hooked. Sue was not impressed and I swear that if we were on it more with the landing net in hand I could have scooped it mid flight it jumped that close!

Another hundred casts later and in a similar drain, my ZMan 3" Holographic Scented ShrimpZ rigged on a Snake Head was engulfed and after the usual barra aerials we had a nice mid-sixties model boated and after a couple of photos, released to fight another day. Ten casts later, Jeff landed a 59cm barra that played up for its size.

By this time the tide was rising, the wind had dropped, the sun was sinking into the horizon and it went from quiet to super quiet. With the lure of the jetty always on our mind, the call was made to fish the three groups of pylons beside the old jetty. Between the second and third pylon group there is a small lump where bait holds and this is a good area for dropping a few ZMan 5" StreakZ, especially in Opening Night colour, down to harass the trevally population that frequent there.

Upon arriving at the spot the sounder screamed and the small lump appeared with a few nice fish holding on the bottom, but no real bait shows midway. Before I was even in neutral Jeff yelled 'fish on' as his rod bent and reel screamed. A few minutes later a nice fingermark was doing its best not to swim into my landing net. In three drops Jeff smashed three fingermark and then I looked around and Sue's rod was also loaded up to no doubt another one of these brawlers. The next ten minutes was fingermark central as nine fish were landed and released, by no means large fish but awesome fun. Seven were caught on Opening Night ZMan 5" StreakZ rigged on TT 1/4-3/8oz jigheads. A favourite combo for this type of fishing.

Just like it started, it stopped again and it was off to the boat ramp for home and our last day of fishing.

Another sleepless night passed and our last winter barra session was upon us. We headed to Neames Inlet to fish the series of drains, but this time we left a little earlier as this location drains faster than others. As we entered Neames, around the first bend we were greeted with a rather respectable size snapping handbag of around 3.5m. Spotting a crocodile of this size sure puts a shock in the system, as I find you become a bit complacent when you don't see them all the time. That's what I love about the Hinchinbrook region, it's still so raw and untamed and winter is the prime time to see these dinosaurs sunning themselves on the mudflats. A bit further on and we arrived at the 200m stretch loaded with drains, lay down timber and a few isolated trees. This looked inviting and there was the odd 'boof' smashing up the bait fish, so we were confident off at least a few rattles.

The first two drifts were so frustrating, with barra feeding around us and no one getting a touch. On the third drift Jeff hooked up to a 60cm barra missile that gave him a bit of curry before being boated. The next hour was again dead quiet and the tide had now reached its lowest.

This quiet period encouraged me to change tactics. I kept the ZMan 5" Grass KickerZ on and swapped the Snake Head for a 1/4oz TT War Head jighead. This combo was then dropped effortlessly beside the boat, over a single tree root snag. Three seconds into the drop the line darted off and a really nice barra launched into the air and again ejected the plastic skyward. The next two drops on the same snag consisted of two mid-sixties barra, hooked by simply dropping the plastic or just after the first or second wind.

One thing I learnt that day is that the colour change of your plastics is important, but it is also extremely important to select and change the jighead for perfect plastic presentation on the day. It only takes a small change in the way the plastic swims, just like the differences in techniques used while retrieving them, to make or break your day.

Time had now got the better of us and our Hijinks @ Hinchinbrook had come to an end, with four quick days spent in an awesome part Queensland.

PS: We did sneak out to the jetty the next morning for a madness session on ZMan 8" StreakZ XL in Bubble Gum colour, boating crazy queenfish and GTs... but that's another story.

How Goods Australia

Robbie Wells  

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