by Rory Gibson
I tell this story a fair bit, especially to budding young fishos who are full of enthusiasm but a bit light on for strategy.
The first time I went fishing for Barramundi I caught one with my very first cast. No, I’m being fair dinkum. Then I caught another with my third cast. Beginner’s luck? No way. I’d spent years as a boy reading about how to catch one – what tackle to use, what they ate, how they hunted, where they lived and what lures worked best.
When I finally found myself in Barramundi territory – camped at Yellow Water billabong in Kakadu National Park – I was ready. I had the right gear for the task, was in the right place, at a good time of year and had a basic idea of what to do.All that remained was to stand on the water’s edge and make that cast to the edge of a patch of water lilies I reckoned might hold a fish. Bang! Two cranks of the reel handle and the Barra hit, then jumped … I couldn’t believe it, everything worked like my research told me it should. I was stoked beyond words. That was 35 years ago, and it is still one of my favourite memories, right up there with the birth of my children and the result of the first ever State of Origin match, being a Queenslander.
As my mate was taking photographs of me holding that beautiful bronzed fish in the early morning light, a family of Victorians who were fishing a bit further along the bank came running over to have a look.
“Jeez, we’ve been fishing here for a week and haven’t seen a Barramundi,” said the bewildered dad.
Any wonder! He and his kids were using boat rods with snapper sinkers and dropper rigs baited with slabs of frozen squid they’d bought at a servo in Darwin. They were never going to catch anything worthwhile and it would have been very dispiriting for the kids to stand on that bank for hours getting not a twitch. The point of that tale is to illustrate two things: know a bit about the fish you are chasing and have the right gear.
There are hundreds of awesome fish you can target in Australia and many of them require specific tackle and tactics to catch them. But that doesn’t mean you have to have a man cave filled with thousands of dollars worth of the latest gadgetry to go fishing. There’s a few items you’ll need that will be necessary anywhere you fish, and beyond that you can build up a handy stock of basic items that will get you in the game without breaking the bank.
Obviously, you’ll need a rod, reel and line. If you’re not targeting anything in particular, get yourself a 4-6kg 6ft long rod with a 3000 to 4000 size reel fitted with 30lb Braid or mono and a hard leader 30 to 40lb. This outfit is readily available from your local Tackle World and you’ll be good to go just about anywhere. A pair of long-nose pliers is essential for retrieving hooks or lures from fish. Some of them come with cutting edges which can be used to trim line. A good sharp knife for cleaning and filleting your catch is a must too. A scaler is also handy but a knife can do the job. You’ll need some sort of measuring device so you can check if your catch is legal size. Throw in an old towel to wipe your hands too.
Next, you’ll want a selection of hooks, swivels and sinkers in various sizes appropriate to your rod and line specs. Your Tackle World Pro Staffer can help you pull a selection together. You should have a few – maybe a dozen – lures in your box, like some soft plastics, wobbler-type metals and a couple of hard-bodied minnows in small to medium sizes. Another alternative is to purchase a ready-made tackle Box that has hooks sinkers, swivels and knives all ready to go.
With that little stash you will catch a fish anywhere in the country. As always though, the best way to increase your chances of catching a feed is to visit the Tackle World store near where you are going fishing and pick up some local knowledge about what bait or tactics work best on the locals.
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