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PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES

Dave Brace

With the popularity of kayak fishing over the recent years, many kayak fishing anglers have experienced some exhilarating, adrenaline pumping moments, pushing themselves to the extremities of the unknown, all in the hope of catching that fish of a lifetime. Whether they have taken their fishing to outermost limits offshore or in the upper and lower reaches of a coastal estuary, to even out west of the Great Dividing Range targeting monstrous Murray cod. One thing that this type of fishing has in common, it can and will surpass all imaginings when the moons align, so expect the unexpected.

There are many reasons why fishing from a kayak has its advantages, however there are two reasons that immediately spring to mind; it allows you to access waters rarely fished or even seen by other keen anglers and it also allows you to be extremely stealthy, a key ingredient in catching many species including one particular fish, the mighty barramundi. When you do find your fishing niche, the passion to exceed, to advance yourself as an angler and to better that last fish you caught, can become overwhelming and extremely addictive. Being a passionate barramundi angler, there is no exhilaration that comes remotely close, for me personally, than experiencing coming face to face with a spirited, vivacious barramundi at water level from the seat of my kayak.

There are many barramundi stocked impoundments throughout Central and Northern Queensland, and these make ideal locations to target these regal fish, with relative safety. However, targeting barramundi in the many coastal rivers and estuaries along the southern coast of Queensland is also an option and a fantastic place to chase these fantastic fun fish. Be mindful though, the further you travel north, the more crocodiles can become alarmingly apparent.

From experience, targeting these fish using a high end graphite rod, from a kayak, is a miscalculation either when casting or trolling. It's when you find yourself in a close quarters contest, trying to tame these hard fighting fish, these graphite rods can snap like twigs. Using a Silstar 6'6" Crystal 6-10 kg Powertip spin rod, matched with a Shimano Stradic 4000 spin reel, gave me so much more confidence in landing these brutes and bringing them yakside, as the rod finds itself deep within the top layer of water and at very peculiar, acute angles many times during these battles.

The Stradic is spooled with 30lb braided line, with no less than 80lb mono leader attached. I personally prefer to use an Improved Albright Knot to join the main line to the leader and as always, a Loop Knot to attach the ZMan lures that I use.

The soft plastic lures used in conjunction with TT Lures range of weedless jigheads, including the ever reliable Snake Head and ChinlockZ jigheads, were predominately the ZMan 6" SwimmerZ and ZMan 4" SwimmerZ, along with the ZMan 9" GrubZ for sub-surface fishing and of course the ZMan 4" Hard Leg & Pop FrogZ for all of our surface action.

The areas I prefer to target these awesome fish are mainly in the shallows amongst the weed and within the vast areas of lilies, so weedless jigheads were most definitely beneficial. Constant checking of the knots, leader and the chosen soft plastic lure is also a necessity, being vigilant not to leave any weak links in the equipment. You have no time for complacency as the windows of opportunity, when these fish are in feeding mode, can sometimes be short and in minimal number.

On one occasion, whilst casting adjacent to a patch of lilies late one night, I had the rod cocked over my shoulder and had almost pulled the soft plastic from the water for my next cast when it was absolutely inhaled by a huge silver body of barramundi. It was an absolute heart stopper, which shook me to my very core, as I now found myself tussling with this fish from the wrong side of the kayak and it had just swum with thrusting pace to open water, after smacking the bottom of the kayak with its enormous caudal fin. The sound of braided line screaming off the reel, which was no more than 10cm from the water, as I looked on helplessly, was exhilarating to say the least. As I glanced over my shoulder, I managed to catch a glimpse of this massive fish jumping clear of the water, with the moon's rays reflecting iridescent colours from the large scales as this magnificent fish glistened in the dimness of the clear night.

Surely nothing is more exhilarating for an angler to witness than this extraordinary visual exhibition, the explosion of water erupts as a metre plus fish with flared gills launches, trying to dislodge a lure and no more than ten metres away! Escalated levels of adrenaline now course throughout the body, leaving the angler a little shaken. With a gentle breeze blowing through the tightly strung line, stretched between every guide of the rod and the fibreglass blank beginning to sing after an impressive encounter, I soon had this 121cm mass of barramundi overpowered.

Countless fish were caught on this particular trip; however one memorable morning was had when four solid barramundi were landed from the kayak, all of which were over a metre in length and within forty minutes of being on the water before sunrise. The combination of emotions, the euphoria, anxiety, excitement and the adrenaline, keeps the passion burning. There is no preparation that would have prepared me for the experiences I encountered on this particular morning, pushing the boundaries and leaving me with thoughts that will be clear in my memory forever.

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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2017