Alex's Fishing Report 21 July 2016
Most barra anglers would be familiar with the term “boof”.
It’s vernacular for the noise made by a barra feeding on the surface.
Basically, a barra takes a small fish or crustacean, or tadpole for that matter, by imploding a mouthful of water that includes its prey, and shutting its mouth at the same time as the water is pushed out though its gill covers.
Depending on how big the barra is, the noise can be surprisingly loud.
It’s a bit like the noise made when a one smacks a paddle on the water.
It’s also a clue to where to make your next lure cast.
It’s actually one of the greatest thrills in sportfishing is to see a fish take your lure right on the surface; with barra fishing, such a take can immediately turn a slow-and-boring session into a full-on adrenalin pumper.
When it happens right at the boat, when a thumper of a barra appears from nowhere and your popper or fizzer detonates before your very eyes, and when a couple of litres of water are blasted across your face and body, then you know you are alive.
But that’s not the Holy Grail of a surface strike from a barra; it can actually get better than the above.
Let me give you an example.
Back in the days of 3.6m tinnies, my mate Geoff Bird and I were camped on the Daly River above the banks of Diesel Creek.
Our aluminium punt was secured via a loop of rope around some trees against the steep bank just at the entrance to the creek mouth.
This loop allowed the boat to rise and fall with the tide, which was pretty nifty.
It was run-off time and we fished by day downriver at the usual haunts.
However, in the evening, after a bush shower, a camp-fire meal and a couple of pannekins of rum and coke, we would walk down to the punt, climb in and start working our surface lures.
It’s not something you’d do nowadays with crocodiles a lot less shy than they were back then; certainly not from a low-sided 3.6m punt.
Although what skin we had exposed was soaked with Kokoda (the then “in” mosquito repellant), our night-time fishing sessions were as much a diversion from the mozzie plagues as they were for the sake of fishing itself.
Often it was a choice between fishing or standing round the fire with your hands in your overalls, and your head bent forward over the smoke, while a zillion mozzies patrolled the outer perimeter of the fire.
One night in particular was a stand-out – barra boofed our lures every second or third cast.
Often, when the hooks missed, there’d be at least another boof before the lure made it out of the water.
We were mainly using small Norman Chugger Flash poppers, a fantastic surface lure back then, and probably still now.
Plus each lure came with a prayer in the packet; a bit like the note you get in a Chinese cookie.
We would also use small fizzers, aka propeller lures.
Under the canopy of towering, overhanging Daly River paperbarks, and with no moon, when the torch wasn’t on to check for crocs, it was pitch black and actually quite eerie.
So, imagine steadily “plopping” your lure to the boat… you hear its every little duck and weave, yet you can’t see it.
You sense it nearing the lowered rod tip and, as you are about to lift it from the water… KAPOW!
The explosion below your popping eyeballs is deafening and scares the shit out of you, and you are instantly doused with a bucket of water?
But you forget about all that because your rod is buckled over and an angry barra is crashing across the water as it tears line from your reel.
Now that’s the Holy Grail of surface strikes!
Although barra fishing reports of note have been scarce over the last week, the blue water scene has been all action.
According to Steve Compain of Arafura Blue Water Charters, there’ve some great catches of jewfish, golden snapper and Spanish mackerel, including in just half day trips.
“Our boats have been working the other side of Lorna Shoal and catching some nice big red emperor as well,” Steve told me.
“On half day trips, we’ve only needed to go as far as Lee Point to catch good jewies.”
Also worth looking at for golden snapper is the No 6 Buoy at night.
Steve Hawkett took his boat for a water test on Manton Dam, threw out a couple of Classics and promptly bagged this metrey in the middle of the day.
April Brit’s big jewie came from an Arafura Blue Water Charters trip out from Darwin.
Melissa Foster’s jewfish came for wide of Lorna Shoals fishing with Arafura Blue Water Charters.