Friday, March 16, 2012

Catching Barra on the Fly in CQ

Guest contributor Rhett Thorne from Mad Keen Yak Angling  tries his hand for Barra on the fly!

A few flies and my Okuma Fly Box
After watching Rob Paxevanos, presenter of Fishing Australia, fly fishing for species like trout in Tasmania, then flying for permit in the tropics, I knew at once that I had to try it out for myself. Gear is the first thing you need to think about which varies depending on what type of fishing you will be doing.
I bought the Okuma Airframe 7/9 weight reel and an Okuma Airframe 9ft rod to match with target species like queenfish, giant herring, barramundi, cod and milkfish in mind. After practicing my casts in the backyard I quickly became confident that this would become a very intriguing hobby.
On a Friday afternoon, after finishing school and playing squash with my mates, I bought a pack of flies from BCF and headed down to the local estuary system. Without having any tapered leader or tippets, I tied 8ft of 20lb fluro-carbon leader onto my floating fly line using a nail knot, then my chosen fly onto the leader with a small loop knot.
The loop knot attaching my leader to the fly proved to be quite effective
The sun was setting by the time I arrived at the narrow creek of the estuary. I began making casts over the sandy banks with a pink head white fly. I slowly twitched it in. The longer I stayed the harder it was to cast, becoming dark quite fast. I hadn’t planned to get there so late, as result didn’t bring a head torch.
By dark I couldn’t even see the fly line on the casts, instead listening to the line whistling through the air to predict my timing and distance.. I decided to cut my loss and have one last cast before for calling it a day. About half way along the bank the line stopped as if it hit a wall. Holding my breath, hoping it wasn’t just a rock, I gave it a slight tug then it took off. The line disappeared through my fingers and into the darkness. The biggest surprise is the 1:1 ratio of a fly reel which is quite different to my spin gear. Also having to palm the spool was the most important thing for me.
This lovely barra fell for the little white and pink fly.
In no time I was well into my backing, probably because I did not keep enough tension, while slipping over rocks, trying to lead the fish into the open sandy bank section.  Finally I gained most of my line, by palming the reel while lifting the rod, then reeling in while lowering the rod. When the fish finally gave in I beached it onto the sand. To my surprise it was a barra, not a queenfish as I expected due to its sheer speed.

My first fish on a fly 58cm Barra
The barramundi, my first ever fish on a fly, measured 58cm in length. It really shows how persistence pays off, especially on that one last cast.

Words and Pics: Rhett Thorne - reproduced with permission. Read more from Rhett's at Mad Keen Yak Angling. 

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