Superstition On the Water

The morning got off to a shaky start with me banging on windows trying to get the attention of a mate to go fishing. The blame was squarely laid on the complications of an alarm clock that had too many settings, “Never mind, let’s get going, grab some fruit, I’ve got morning tea and lunch organised”.  No harm done, it wasn’t too long and we were on our way to the river.

The five thirty start was a little behind schedule, we just needed coffee, then it was on the road. It was a beautiful clear day, one in which you can make out the details in the surrounding ranges hugging the North Queensland coast. The thought of hitting the river was tantalising as we had just had the remnants of cyclone Owen pass through a few days before. The river levels would be settling down, water clarity clearing up, and best of all, a chance to get up the top of the river to see some country not seen for a while due to a long dry winter.

At the ramp the water was very dirty, it was supposed to be still running in for another hour, but we found the water still and put this down to the waters coming down from the ranges. We decided to hit a few patches of mangrove spears looking for some Jacks on the way upstream, these spots proved fruitless so we continued our journey.

Next stop was a big wide bend with a large section of shallow backwater with plenty of weed and lily pad cover. I put on a popper, Brod was on a shallow hard body. The water looked cherry ripe for a fish, and it wasn’t long before I had the surface explode and my line take off in the opposite direction. A nice little Barra to start he day, I was chuffed, took a few photos and was back into the action. I love fishing with poppers, they allow you to keep the lure in the strike zone for a lot longer, and they are so much more satisfying when you get that strike.

We decided to move on, and headed way upstream, along the way we stopped briefly at a few little creeks coming into the river, but to no avail. Then we stopped at a swamp over flow, spewing thousands of litres of very dirty water into the river. This created the classic water colour change you look for when chasing fish after a run off. This hole was little deeper, so I switched to 4’ Z-Mann soft plastic with a Snake Lock 1/4oz jig head. 

After a few casts I had a bit of a thud on the line, it came free and I thought it had hit a snag, then bang, it was on. The line took off and stayed low for a bit, but eventually it surfaced and it was a 75cm Barramundi. With my light spin combo in hand I had to be gentle with the big fella, and he gave me a few scares during the fight but I eventually wore him down and got him into the boat. A few happy snaps and it was back into the water, closed season for Barra of course at the moment, but always a thrill to land a good Barra anytime of year.

The rest of the trip upstream involved dragging the boat through some shallow sections, and roughing up the prop a bit on other misjudged sections. But eventually we made it to our destination. We pulled up and walked a little upstream to get access to a large section of backwater that looked promising. First cast we had a hit, second cast I was on, a nice little Sooty Grunter on a popper. We spent the next ten minutes sending lures the length and breath of the hole and scored another little Jungle Perch for our trouble.

It was time to start our drift, the first couple of holes produced nothing, but then the bites started to happen, Sooty’s, Tarpon and Jungle Perch were all about in good numbers. Time for morning tea and time to assess the morning so far. It was then bought to my attention my mate Brod had not yet caught a fish, and my score was already up around ten fish, including the two nice Barramundi, Brod was not happy. 

We then opened the esky to find, you guessed it, a banana! Luckily I hadn’t touched it, so was immune to its fish bite suppressing qualities, Brod scoffed it down, but was not to catch a fish for at least another half hour after morning tea. And once he caught his first, he pretty well matched me fish for fish for the rest of the day.

The rest of the day saw some good fishing, Sooty’s, Tarpon and Jungle Perch all in good numbers, taking a mixture of Rapala SR5’s and poppers. Also saw a giant Jungle Perch strike my lure, a real thrill, and when landed he measured a whopping 39cm, I think that’s a PB for me.

It was really good to get back up the top of the river after a prolonged dry period. All three species you encounter up there offer some great sports fishing, drifting through some magnificent country.

Can’t wait for the next downfall to arrive, but pretty sure I won’t be allowing another banana on the boat. 

Brett Parks

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