Alex's Fishing Report 15 September 2016
It was good news that Palmerston Game Fishing Club’s tenth annual Secret Women’s Business Barra Challenge (SWB) produced the best result that it has in years.
Once again, it was held from the convenient Corroboree Park Tavern on the Arnhem Highway and just a short drive to Corroboree.
In some ways, the quality of fishing was a surprise and, in other ways, it was no surprise at all.
Following successive bad wet seasons, the big lagoon has been under constant intrusion from lilies and other water vegetation.
For most of the year to date, it’s hardly been worth visiting Corroboree simply because the fishing has been so tough.
Even though saratoga have been caught all year, catching a few barra has been problematic.
However, that seemed to change about a month ago, and an increasing number of barra have been caught, including some fair dinkum Corroboree whoppers: fish in the 90s.
I even reported a metre-plus barra caught at Corroboree last month.
So, even though there was little news coming from the iconic lagoon in the week leading up to SWB – not that any competitors with pre-fishing success would have let the cat out of the bag prematurely – with 30 teams of three plying the waters for two full days, there were bound to be fish caught.
According to one of SWB’s co-ordinators, Chrissie Hurren: “Each year we hope for better fishing at Corroboree Billabong which has been notoriously difficult to fish over the past few years.
“This year saw a marked improvement… finally!
“The 10th anniversary Spotters SWB Barra Challenge saw 30 teams of ladies of all skill levels hit the water targeting barramundi and saratoga.
“Overall, 98 fish were caught, comprising 26 barramundi and 72 saratoga.
“Some big girls were caught with Emma Harbrow of team Angry Bird landing an impressive 88cm beauty, the biggest fish caught for the tournament and earning her the Reidy's Biggest Barra award.
“In total, there were four barramundi in the 80s landed, a vast improvement on previous years,” Chrissie said.
“As always, conditions were tough out there with temperatures reaching 36 degrees.
“But this didn't deter the ladies from fishing their hearts out.
“On the first competition day, 15 barramundi and 45 saratoga were landed, with the biggest fish of the day an 84cm barramundi, and that was also caught by Emma Harbrow.
“Day two was a bit slower with 11 barramundi and 27 saratoga landed,” Chrissie reported.
For the second year in a row, team Skirts Ditchin' Work was a convincing Champion Team.
Comprising captain Tash Rammers, Melita McKinnon and Helen Stuart, their strategy of targeting saratoga – worth half the points of barramundi – was the clear deciding factor.
“We caught 29 ‘togas and four barra,” Trish told me.
“Barra are a bycatch for us, but the four we caught were in the 60s.
“The ‘togas were smaller than they were in past years – our best was only 59cm,” Tash said.
All fish are measured, tagged, photographed with the captor’s SWB card and released.
“Although they were smaller, the ‘toga fishing was definitely better than last year, but they weren’t hitting hard,” Tash explained.
“We mainly fished the Rockhole in Corroboree, just moving around and concentrating on four spots where I know the ‘toga are.
“The barra we caught earlier in the morning, but the ’toga bit all day.
“Last year, you’d catch one at a spot, and then two or three more would follow quickly, but this year they were more flighty and we dropped heaps.
“I don’t know why; perhaps it was the water temperature: 29°C in the morning then rising to 31.5°C by afternoon.
“We only used weedless soft plastics, fishing the Rock Hole until the wind comes up, and then moving to another couple of spots I have in the main Corroboree Lagoon,” Trish explained.
Following the champion Skirts Ditchin' Work team, and claiming Champion Runner-up Team, were Dirty Oars (Melissa Krollig, Johanna Clark and Melanie Bowen) with 1223 points.
Co-ordinator Chrissie Hurren said: “Mel Krollig and Jo Clark are the founders of SWB and we were thrilled they were able to participate in this year's tournament and do so well.”
With her two terrific barra earning 853 points, Emma Harbrow was Champion Angler.
Her Angry Bird team caught their fish trolling.
“We only did one recon’,” Emma said.
“We saw fish on the sounder so we fished that spot for two days.
“I hooked an even bigger fish after the 88, but the reel guide broke and it smoked me,” Emma said.
Her team used Warlock lures.
“They just inhaled them; they loved those Warlocks,” she said.
“The fish were really feisty, and we had to work hard to hook them amongst the weeds… just whipping the rods and getting hit on the pause.”
Champion Runner-up Angler went to Melita McKinnon who caught 14 ‘toga and was not far behind with 825 points.
The Reidy's Biggest Saratoga went to Tania Smith of Aluring Babes who landed a 60cm ‘toga.
Interestingly, it’s rumoured that the biggest fish of the competition was a 91cm barra caught by one of the marshalls.
For the second year in a row, Team Skirts Ditchin' Work (left to right: Melita McKinnon, Helen Stuart and Tash Rammers), pictured here with one of their 29 saratoga, were convincing winners in the Spotters SWB Barra Challenge.
Emma Harbrow from Team Angry Bird was Champion Angler thanks to two great barra: this 88cm fish and an 84cm barra.
From left to right, Melanie Bowen, and SWB founders, Melissa Krollig and Johanna Clark, of Team Dirty Oars, were awarded Runner-up Champion Team.
Team Sister Act’s Angie Moyle, Tanya Urvet and Tiina Moyle are never far from the barra action.