Alex's Column 21/07/2022

Most anglers would agree that one of the greatest thrills in sportfishing is to see a fish take you lure right on the surface?

In barra fishing, that surface explosion – known in angling vernacular as “the boof” – will immediately turn a slow-and-boring session into a full-on adrenalin pumper.

When a thumper of a barra appears from nowhere, and your popper or fizzer detonates before your very eyes, the excitement is palpitating.

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.

My 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 during a good Daly River runoff and we fished by day downriver at the usual haunts.

Back then, it was a long way down the river from the crossing from which you’d usually launch your car-topper.

Camping closer to the better feeder creeks made a lot of sense.

However, in the evening, after a bush shower, a camp-fire meal and a couple of pannekins of rum, we would walk down to the punt, climb in and start working our surface lures.

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 mossie plagues as they were for the sake of fishing itself.

Mind you, nowadays you’d have rocks in your head if you fished next to a feeder creek at night from a 3.6m punt.

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 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!


Champion female angler, Leila Bartolo, sports her colourful Staunch Crab fishing apparel… and a nice billabong barra to boot.