Doctor Dog's First Noosa River Barra 23.10.2016

TR by doctordog

Wind: negligible
Swell: nil as in river
Current: run out tide
Launch point: Quamby Place
Participants: DoctorDog, Redwood, Tunny
On Sunday October 23 I had my shortest yet arguably most successful yak trip. I was planning to paddle in search of a fabled Noosa River Barramundi or perhaps a Mangrove Jack. Local fishermen had suggested seeking the last light of a warm day and the falling tide . Being scheduled to work on the morrow I did not want to be out too late.
I am often a little disorganised in my preparations but tonight I was ahead of the game and arrived at the appointed car park to an orange sunset lighting up the western sky. I launched at around 6.15 pm before my paddling partners had arrived - having previously suggested I would launch at 7.00 pm I was well and truly ahead of schedule.

The remnants of the brilliant orange sunset illuminated this family of Pacific Black ducklings as they scuttled across Quamby Lagoon to hide in the mangroves.
Paddling out of the lagoon I set up my trolling outfit of a Gold Bomber 15A lure on my father’s day gift of a Loomis GL2 rod married with a Calcutta 200B- the Bomber was lightly coated with S-Factor scent.
I made my way to one of my preferred trolling tracks where I had had previous success with Trevally and Mangrove Jack. Light was fading fast as I put on my head lamp and changed directions to avoid the set lines of shore based fishermen. My head lamp was not comfortable so I had it and my hat in my lap as I paddled with a plan to fit the lamp and turn it on if any boats approached.
I noted large swirling disturbances in the open water where obviously large fish slid quietly away from the stealthy approach of my craft. Could that be Barra or just large Mullet I wondered to myself.
Mid way through my first circuit the calm of the river astern of me was disrupted by a large leaping fish determined to take my trolled Gold Bomber for a couple of hard runs initially in open water then after a few minutes my first Noosa River Barra hookup skull dragged me and my kayak up to a near by jetty.
The Loomis Calcutta combo performed flawlessly in those first blinding runs and leaps allowing me to stow my paddle and maintain tension on the lure while the fish did its best to dislodge the hooks. I could feel the 40 lb mono leader scraping around the oyster encrusted pylons. If only I had a better view of what was going on. My head lamp was still in my lap, my hatch closed my /beach tennis paddle under my tackle bag in the hatch so in a scene reminiscent of “the three stooges” I quickly and awkwardly jammed my now illuminated lamp on my head at a none to perfect position.
I scrabbled in the hatch to find my ping pong bat paddle as I desperately kept tension on and tried to steer the fish back to open water. I briefly back paddled one handed with the bat/paddle hoping to get the fish out into the clear.
I could see my barra and her red eyes in the torch light coming back out into open water but my 20 lb braid was wrapped behind two or more pylons. I was panicking that I was about to lose this fish to the oysters. Mercifully the barra came to the surface and I grabbed the leader and hand-lined it yak-side. Continuing the comedic theme I then had to extract gaff or lip grippers from my now tangled jumble of a gear hatch whilst my fish struggled occasionally violently in my line wrapped but mercifully gloved left hand. After what seemed an age I pinned the barra with my gaff and lifted her into the hatch.
This is where things got really silly as for a short time I was hooked through the little finger of my right hand by one of the 3 sets of trebles and the other 2 sets were firmly attached to the recently landed fish. The hook was deeply imbedded in my pinky beyond the barb but fortunately the fish stayed quiet allowing me to formulate a plan to separate us.
I was able to whip the hook out of my finger with my pliers in my left hand. Adrenaline and heart rate were “redlining” and I broke the treble in the removal process. The hook came out cleanly and my finger barely bled. I now had to cut the line to free myself and the yak from the line wrap around the pylons.

I had my fish safely stowed in the hatch and started to paddle back to the launch point. Just as I neared the beach The fish gave an almighty thrash in the fish box giving me visions of the lid flying open and an escaping fish as per some You tube video I had seen. Perhaps I should have done a brain spike immediately after capture but I did not want to risk getting hooked again.

I was back on the beach with a photo taken by 7.00pm. A PB Barra for me and my first ever Noosa River catch of this species all in 45 minutes.
Eyetags record of 96 cm is safe from my 88 cm 9 kg fish.

Tunny took some photos and he and Redwood were last seem paddling into the gloom.
It was nearly midnight before I finished cleaning the fish and my gear and the adrenaline rush was still there.

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