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Alex's Column 14 July 2023

Don’t you just love the word “boof”?

It’s been around at least 30 years and is vernacular for the noise made by a barra feeding on the surface.

I love to know who came up with that word.

Basically, it happens when a barra takes a small fish or crustacean, or tadpole for that matter, 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.

One of the greatest thrills in sport fishing is to see a fish take your lure right on the surface; with barra fishing, a take that 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 barra boof; it can actually get better than that.

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 straight-up thin trees next to 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 Runoff 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.

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 hell 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 a barra boof!


It looks like we’re finally going to get some respite to the gusty winds of the last few weekends.

The forecast for Saturday is for 7-9 knot winds, and Sunday will be less than 5 knots with smooth seas.

The tides are neaps too, so the world is your oyster for offshore travel.

The timing is excellent in fact because there are lots of pelagics about: schools of both Spanish mackerel and longtail tuna.

Of course, neap tides and light winds are a great formula for success on our big tidal rivers.

The Daly has been fishing well, and should keep doing that this weekend.

Shady Camp downriver is a special to produce good barra and thumping threadies.

The Adelaide River mouth will also be worth checking out on the run-out tide.

It’s all looking good.

Interstate visitor Richard Horgan went fishing with his brother-in-law Glenn Hubble and caught some great reefies amongst other fish.

A saratoga on a popper doesn’t happen every day… Glenn “Harbourmaster” Hubble was rapt with this beauty from Yellow Water Lagoon.


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