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Australian Bass Tournaments
Tournament Angler Guide
2016 zerek barra tour calendar
The BARRA Tour returns after a record-breaking year in 2015, expanding to four events across the three northern impoundments of Kinchant, Teemburra and the barra mecca that is Peter Faust. Zerek are the headlining sponsors of the tour this year, planned in conjunction with anglers, the 2016 tour is slated to be the best ever. BARRA Tour debutants will have the red carpet rolled out for them on this year’s tour courtesy of Zerek. Each Rookie Team (you are a rookie team if both anglers in the team have never fished a BARRA Tour event) will receive a Zerek Rookie Pack at their first event of the 2016 tour. In addition a
Champion Rookie Team at each stop of the tour and a Zerek Rookie Team of the Year will partner the overall round winner from each of the four rounds, and the Costa BARRA Tour Team of the Year, as the ultimate accolades of The Tour. If brushing shoulders
with some of Australia’s best barra tournament anglers and learning the tricks of the trade is up your alley in 2016, plan the time off and organise your gear for a week of the best barra fishing Australia has to offer. Entry Fee $250 per team/per event
BARRA Tour Round #1 (Evening Event)
BARRA Tour Round #2 (Evening Event)
BARRA Tour Round #3 (Evening Event)
BARRA Tour Round #4 (Night Championship)
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Tournament Angler Guide
Don’t be a one hit wonder John Millard
Barra fishing isn’t a one-card trick. Whether as a social or tournament angler, to be successful and consistent you must be versatile. Work on being a multi-skilled angler with many techniques in your bag of tricks and you will find your success. In the past it seemed if you weren’t throwing Squidgy Slick Rigs, you weren’t in the game. More ABT Barra tournaments have been won using Slick Rigs than any other technique. This isn’t likely to change soon, but as time goes on, techniques evolve and new methods find their way into the spotlight to claim their fair share of success. If you need affirmation of this look no further than recent tournament results, which in
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many ways reads as a roll call of tried and burgeoning tackle and techniques. GUT INSTINCT Don’t be afraid to throw a game plan out the window and run with your gut instinct when it comes to crunch time. Tides, wind direction, water clarity, and current are constantly changing dynamics that can and will change the behavior of fish in an instant, rendering a previous day of pre-fishing or tournament preparation useless. It’s a matter of seeing and reading these elements and changes and adjusting your game plan as you see fit. At the 2014 Peter Faust round of the ABT BARRA Tour, my teammate Ethan Farrell and I were in all sorts of trouble late in our first session of fishing. Clearing the slate and starting fresh we focused our attention on seasonal movements of fish and the constantly changing
weather we were faced with. Going old school, slowing things down and changing to a slow moving Strike King Shadalicious swimbaits, while not as exciting as burning a plastic through the weed, got the job done and rewarded us with a first place finish. Ethan Farrell has always been an angler willing to try new things, he believes that, “while tournaments won on a single lure are not quite a thing of the past, the growing trend is likely to be tournaments won on a multipronged approach.’’ I am constantly reminded of the value in trying and throwing something different than the norm, whether it be the latest jig, chatterbait or a hand carved swimbait. When things get tough and the run of the mill techniques and tackle draw a limited return, anglers like Ethan have the ability to fish each new creation with
Top: Slowing down your retrieve can make the world of difference when things get tough. Above: Ethan Farrell with the rewards of another successful session at Faust. the confidence that’s needed to crack a pattern. This thinking, confidence and practice can bring fringe techniques to centre and in some cases can see them become proven tournament winners. MAKE IT HAPPEN Craig Griffiths is another
angler unwilling to wait and just watch things happen. I can remember many competitions fishing with Craig, dodging the million lures he has tried lying all over the deck. “Many of things that have brought me success in tournaments are things
that are best described as ‘one-percenters’. Success can be as simple as a quick lure change, and while maybe only one fish is the result of the change, sometimes it can be the difference between second or first place on the scoreboard,” explained Craig.
Learning new techniques and becoming confident with them does not happen overnight. You can’t expect to simply try something new and gain immediate results. Learning where to employ it, how to employ it, what changes to make, when to change up and why that change worked or didn’t work, are all things that can only be learnt from time on the water and time using the new technique. Asking yourself these simple questions and learning from them will help put more fish in the boat. TOURNAMENT TIME Tournament fishing is an arena that helps speed up the learning process, and an environment that can help you evolve as an angler much faster that purely social fishing. During tournament fishing hours, there is no hiding what is working and everything is fully visible for people to learn from each other. Information is more readily available with people willing to share and discuss their different ideas, thoughts and strategies. The pressures of competition, and the transparency of competition techniques, tackle and results are important factoors with benefits that can’t be replicated anywhere else. STAYING AHEAD While there is no doubt,
Tournament Angler Guide
Trying something out of the box when it comes to lure selection can be the trigger to turn things on. watching and learning from others is a successful way to gain more versatility in your fishing, it will always pay to lead from the front. New techniques have to come from somewhere and your own personal experimentation can be as good a start as any to discover new things. I find myself constantly researching through both foreign and local fishing resources in search of
new techniques and tackle to try. Magazines, websites, catalogues, and videos are all sources of new ideas and are regularly evolving providers of food for thought. While not everything you find or try will work, it will help keep you at the forefront of anything new, and situate you that one step ahead of the pack. It is the little things that make the difference come
competition day. Fishing, like many things, revolves around cycles and patterns. Dam levels fluctuate, seasons return and weather changes, which result in a variation of fish moods. The only thing certain is that history repeats and past conditions will reoccur. So it is very important for an angler to remember what techniques worked under a specific set of
conditions. These conditions may change by the hour, by the day or by the year; one thing is for sure they will never only occur once. While replicating these techniques, it is not a certainty that they will prove successful, but more often than not, it is a fast way to gain results. SWITCH IT UP Instant results are not always found when previous
techniques are replicated; sometimes it pays to vary your approach. These variations do not always need to be major changes, but more of a subtle adjustment. A good example of this is when I reach for my ever-reliable, tournamentwinning box of jerkbaits. I will always start with three twitches (pause, two twitch, pause technique) repeating this throughout the retrieve. While more often than not this method will work, sometimes a slight adjustment will result in even more bites. This may be to a constant twitching retrieve, slow roll or a violent erratic rod twitch. Applying this theory to other successful lures will work and constant experimenting with retrieve methods will result in more fish. Fishing is evolving faster than ever before, information is more readily available and easier to find. Most tournament angler’s arsenal these days is far broader than a simple gold Bomber. Anglers must learn from the past, look at the present and look to the future. Accumulating a complete repertoire of techniques will set you apart from the rest of the field, becoming a jack-of-all-trades, rather than a master of one is the key to consistent tournament angling success.
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Tournament Angler Guide
BARRA Tour Bootcamp ABT
Everything about fishing for the iconic barramundi is nothing short of breathtaking. The anticipation, the strike, the battle, and the all-important brag once the deed is done makes catching a barramundi at the top of almost every Australian angler’s bucket list. There’s no better way of being dropped into the thick of it than packing up some gear, and making the
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trip north for the 2016 Zerek BARRA Tour. The BARRA Tour, now in it’s 11th year is without doubt the best way to immerse yourself in barramundi tactics and techniques. The BARRA Tour is held over the November full moon, and coincides with the best fishing time of the year in the North Queensland impoundments. The BARRA Tour consists of four tournaments, over 7-days and nights and is held on Australia’s premier barramundi fishing impoundments – Teemburra Dam, Kinchant Dam and Peter Faust Dam.
The events coincide with moon phases and tide changes, to maximise the chance of all attending anglers doing battle with the 1m+ barramundi that reside in these impoundments. The past two years have proven this formula true, with 1m+ averages in several events and a list of returning anglers lining up year after year to take on the tour. So, if you want a slice of the pie at the end of 2016, here’s all you need to know to get prepped and ready for the Zerek BARRA Tour. WHAT TO EXPECT If you’re a barra
Top: Big barra abound on The Tour. Above: There’s wet and wild times on the Zerek Barra Tour.
Tournament Angler Guide
abt.org.au newcomer looking for some 101 education, you will learn stacks of new tricks and leave the Zerek BARRA Tour a totally new angler. Likewise, if you’re a seasoned pro, you never stop learning this game, and there’s plenty to absorb about our most iconic sportfish. The BARRA Tour is your chance to rub shoulders with a group of Australia’s best barramundi anglers. You travel with them, fish with them, fish against them and ultimately learn what makes them Australia’s best. It’s easy to write off a session as a failure when you fish by yourself, but when there are 30 boats on the water, someone will always figure out a productive pattern, location or technique. That information immediately filters down to everyone
who’s attending, and all of a sudden you have some great information about what you can try in the next session or event. This sharing of knowledge is the cornerstone of what ABT was built on, and our BREAM and BASS tournament trails are testament to that fact. The BARRA Tour hasn’t been around as long, and the events don’t happen as often. This makes the BARRA Tour a week-long information overload, and you can be sure you’ll be a better angler for attending. The other thing you can expect is that you’re going to have one hell of a time, fishing aside. Everything about the BARRA Tour is fun, the road trip, the afternoons at the pub talking fishing, and that’s all before you’ve even wet a line.
ACCOMMODATION Name Pioneer Valley Hotel/Motel (Gargett Hotel) Criterion Hotel Finch Hatton Kinchant Waters Caravan Park Lions Camp Kanga Travelling in a group as big as the BARRA Tour is truly a rewarding experience. Oh, and you’re going to catch barra! WHERE TO STAY Every year ABT release dates almost six-months in advance. This allows everyone time to plan, and there are plenty of options for everyone attending. For the Teemburra Dam events, you’re going to need to stay down the range at one of the pubs. There’s the Criterion Hotel just up the road at Finch Hatton, and the Gargett Hotel a further
Address 1 Jim Moule St, Gargett, 4741 9 Mackay-Eungella Rd, Finch Hatton 4756 Kinchant Dam Rd, Kinchant Dam, 4741 2396 Crystalbrook Rd, Crystal Brook 4800
10-minutes down the road. The Criterion is the host for the Teemburra and Kinchant events. The Criterion is where the session’s scores are posted up, and the hotel essentially serves as the headquarters for those events. For Kinchant Dam events, you also have the option of some of the facilities available on site. There are cabins and campsites right on the edge of the water, and for those that want to stay a little closer to town the lake is less than an hour drive from Mackay. When the tour rolls out
SHOPPING AROUND Getting supplies while on the road, especially out of standard shopping hours, can be a challenge. Here’s a list of places to visit when on the hunt for food, fuel, tackle and general supplies. Kinchant and Teemburra Finch Hatton General Store Meals and groceries 7am-5pm BP Finch Hatton Fuel and vehicle/trailer supplies 7am-6pm Gargett General Store Fuel, groceries and Post Office 7am-10pm Kookaburra’s Store Mirani Meals, fuel, and groceries 5am-8pm Tackle World Mackay Tackle 8am-5.30pm, 8am-4pm (Sat) 8am-3pm (Sun) Compleat Angler Nth Mackay Tackle 8am-5.30pm, 7am-4pm (Sat) 7am-2pm (Sun) Peter Faust Caltex Proserpine Fuel and limited groceries 5am-8pm BP Proserpine Fuel and limited groceries Open 24 hours Woolworths Proserpine Groceries 8am-9pm (closed Sun) Barra World Tackle 8am-5.30pm, 6.30am-1pm (Sat), (closed Sun)
and heads north to Proserpine and Peter Faust Dam, there’s only one place to stay, and that’s Camp Kanga. It’s arguably the best tournament venue we visit every year. Plenty of cabins, great food and a short 10-minute drive to the boat ramp. If you want the
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jerkbait among timber, yet is not disadvantaged too much on an open point casting a soft plastic to a weed edge. You don’t need to worry too much about how many million modulus the blank is, as long as it’s comfortable and light enough to cast for 8-hours
TRAVEL TIME Here’s a breakdown of some of the travel times for the Zerek BARRA Tour. Brisbane to Mackay 12 hours Mackay to Kinchant Dam 45 mins Mackay to Teemburra Dam 1 hour Teemburra Dam to Peter Faust Dam 2 hours Proserpine to Peter Faust Dam 20 mins
easiest and most convenient BARRA Tour experience, Camp Kanga and Peter Faust are your best bet. GETTING TACKLED Rod A medium-heavy rated baitcast around 6’6” in length would be the first item to pack for a week on the Zerek BARRA Tour. Something of this length can be used for tip down presentations like twitching a
without fatigue, you won’t have any trouble detecting a bite from a hungry barra. A spin rod of a similar rating around 10-20lb and the 7’0” mark would be the second stick in the quiver. This rod can mainly be used for long casting on open points and bays, but could be equally useful for slowly winding a lure through structure. A key with spin rods is to make sure the guides are To page 8
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Tournament Angler Guide
From page 7
suitable to pass your chosen leader knot, if you tie a large knot like an albright choose a rod with larger guides, likewise if you’re familiar with the FG knot, (which you can watch by clicking the QR code) you open up a few more options with smaller guides. Unsure of where to start looking? There’s a Wilson Venom to cover every scenario you’re likely to encounter on
the BARRA Tour. Reel So now you’ve got your rods sorted, you’ll need some reels to match. Look for a low-profile baitcaster with a good smooth drag. You won’t have any problem casting the standard heavy-weight barra lure. But when a barra starts running you’ll want a reel that can dispense line smoothly without shuddering. Same goes with a spin reel,
aim for something of 3000 size that can hold plenty of 30lb braid and not flex under heavy drags. Lures When it comes to lures, there are plenty of options on the market. But there
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The passion of life on tour.
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are more than a few musthaves. Not surprisingly, Zerek have a number of absolutely essential lure styles for barra fishing. The new BARRA Tour sponsor saw the connection their products and brand had with the fisheries of northern Queensland and they’ve returned the favour in a big way. Soft plastics ‘Soft plastics’ is a pretty generalized term for what is a very diverse style of lure. There are a myriad of shapes and sizes which can be perplexing on a shop wall. From flukes to frogs and everything in-between, soft plastics encompass some of the most effective and reliable barra lures we’ve seen on the tour.
• Low stretch (max 5%) • High sensitivity • Super high strength • Excellent durability and abrasion resistance • Smooth surface manufacturing • Tight braiding for enhanced durability • 4lb to 40lb is 4 strand • 50lb to 80lb is 8 strand Available in bright green and light blue. 150m 4lb to 30lb 300m 15lb to 80lb 1800m 20lb to 80lb
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Thumbs up if you love barra. past few tours has been the soft vibration bait. These baits have boomed over the last few years, and have proven successful time and time again. Zerek’s Fish Trap is available in both 95 and 110mm versions, while the Jackall Transam is a must have in your box. If you’re looking to compile the ultimate BARRA Tour box of baits then there’s no better place to look than the ‘Barra in a Box’ feature in this magazine. BRING A MATE, BARRA TOUR AWAITS With almost five-months to plan your northern barra sojourn, there’s plenty of time to get a teammate and get everything ready. The Zerek BARRA Tour will advance your skills faster than five
Available in 150m 10, 12, 16, 20, 25lb 200m 30, 40, 50, 60lb
Swimbaits A range of paddle-tailed swimbaits with matching jigheads will see you through the vast majority of the BARRA Tour. These can be hopped, burned or simply slow rolled. You can rig them with a heavy jighead and fish deep, or use a weighted worm hook and fish them through the weeds. The Zerek Flat Shad is a great choice and can be rigged with exposed hook or weedless. The Squidgy Slick Rig would also have to be a walk-up starter, but be prepared to rip it through the weed, as you can’t rig it weedless. Hardbodies Hardbodies have been the first choice of so many barra anglers throughout Australia, and they hold their own at the forefront of tournament angling. There are so many different shapes and sizes to choose from on the wall of your favourite tackle store, and while they all have their place, you could do far worse than to have an assortment of long, slim profile minnows in both shallow and deep-diving bibs and not much else. You don’t get the adage of ‘no wobble, no gobble’ for nothing and a hard twitched jerkbait is one of the most effective ways to catch barramundi. Soft vibes The other lure style that’s been hard to ignore over the
years of social fishing. Think of it as arguably the cheapest barra charter in Australia, it lasts a week and you can fish with your mate. The ABT BARRA tour is the pinnacle of competitive barra angling and attracts anglers from all over the country and world. Travelling alongside some of the country’s best anglers, listening to them share tips and strategies, watching them as they select which lures to use and how to approach a certain location is invaluable to becoming a better angler. So pack your gear and plan the time off, the dates and entry forms are out for what will surely be another week to remember as the Zerek BARRA Tour heads north in November.
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Tournament Angler Guide
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Tournament Angler Guide
Barra in a Box Simon Goldsmith, Karim De Ridder, Craig Griffiths
Trying to condense a boatload of lures down to one box is no easy task. With that exact goal in mind we thought whom better up for the task than current BARRA Tour Team of the Year, Karim De Ridder and Craig Griffiths. The team that all teams fear on the BARRA Tour, Karim and Craig have boxed up their go-to barra baits for the 2016 Zerek BARRA Tour and are giving us the low down on essential baits for life on the tour. There’s perhaps more barra caught with this one box than any other box in BARRA Tour history. Look at it, study it, and learn it, because if the 2016 Zerek BARRA Tour is on your to-do list then there’s something in this box for you. 1 LUCKY CRAFT SKT MAGNUM, 5” STORM SUSPENDING SHAD The lure that became a staple in our barra box courtesy of its success in the 2015 BARRA Tour, and one of the contributors to our
Teemburra round victory, the SKT Magnum is a lure that’s suited to variety of locations. From fishing between weed pillars, through hard stumps and on deep points this is a lure that’s at its best in 3-4m of water and worked with a constant slow roll, crankin’ retrieve. A slow tapered rod and a slow retrieve reel such as a Daiwa Zillion Crazy Cranka is the outfit best suited to throwing the Magnum. A great lure when there’s a reaction bite on. A long time favourite and a lure that’s perfect for fishing over the top of weed, the Storm Suspending Shad needs some upgrades out of the packet, and a size 4 Decoy split ring and 1/0–2/0 treble will make it fit and ready for action. One of the great things about this lure is its action, a regular body roll and seductive tail beat makes it a gun barra bait. Sloping points are the prime locations to fish with this lure, with a twitch and pause retrieve down the slope and dynamite retrieve. A great lure through weed, yet a lure that needs to be worked, rather than just chucked and wound to get
A box of winning baits for barra catching success. the best results. 2 SQUIDGY 110 SLICK RIG, 3” STORM SUSPENDING SHAD The great all-rounder and a must have in any barra box, the Slick Rig is a lure that’s super easy to use and super effective at catching barra. One of our go-to baits to dial in fish during the prefish (we actually fish it with the hooked folded in so we don’t sting fish), to modify our Slick Rigs we add a, 1/2oz TT Area 51 jighead or a Craig Griffiths custom jighead, Decoy Y-S21 treble, and dye the tail (orange or chartreuse), as well as trim or melt the tail wrist with a soldering iron. Black and gold, and white and blue (a favourite night colour) are our favourites. One of the best lures going around for barra, a chuck and wind in most cases is all that’s needed to get success with a Slicky. The little brother of the 5”, the 3” Storm is perhaps our favourite finesse barra bait. This lure stays high in the water column, which makes it ideal for shallow water, the Suspending Shad is a great lure to reach for when things get tough. 3 LUCKY CRAFT POINTER 78 XD, & 100 XD, MARIA MJ-1 DD 90F, Every barra box should have at least one, or a dozen Pointers in it. The smallest one in our box, the 78 XD (XD stands for Extra Deep) is a gun lure when a
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smaller-sized deep jerkbait is required. We like to fish the 78XD by cranking the lure down, then working it with a series of twitches and pauses. This is a lure that comes through weed with ease. The Pointer 100XD is what we reach for when we need to get a little deeper and when the barra are looking for something a little bigger. This lure is perfect in 8-12ft of water, and a simple slow wind or rip down and pause works fantastic. It’s also our go-to lure when fishing deep, standing timber. As is the case in this country, be prepared to donate a few to unstoppable monsters. Natural coloured XDs are our preference in clear water, while we tend to go a little brighter such as the orange gold and disco
colours when the water is darker and dirtier. By contrast the Maria MJ is a lure with a slightly different action (and very unique) compared to the XD. A great point of difference to the Pointer and lure that we find works best in white or natural colours. 4 JACKALL TRANSAM, LUCKY CRAFT LV RTO-150, CULTIVA TANGO DANCER, RICHO STREAK 9 You can’t go barra fishing these days without a Jackall Transam. The essential plastic to have, and while we’ll often use other brand soft vibes available, it’s usually only ever the original Transam that we’ll use in a tournament. Deadly on shutdown fish and capable
When it comes to catching big barra, Karim DeRidder knows his stuff!
of being ripped and fished through weed, they’re at their stickiest and strongest when the hooks are upgraded with either a number 4 or number 6 Decoy Y-S81 trebles. Used in the same situation as the Jackall, the LV RTO is your go-to when you need a Transam with a rattle. We only tie one of these on when the barra are eating rattling lures, and just like the Transam we upgrade the trebles. The number one topwater bait for the barra, the Tango Dancer is a lure that makes plenty of noise and is ultra easy to walk across the surface. A great early morning lure and to use in places where weed grows all the way to the surface. Walk this lure through an alley in the weed or a slot in the lilies if you want to experience an explosive barra surface strike. When it comes to hand carved timber barra lures the name Richo says it all. The Richo Streaker has pulled fish when many others lures, including soft plastics, have drawn a blank. With a unique action and sound that barra just love, the Richo come through timber incredibly well, withstands a lot of punishment, and when retrofitted with Owner 4X trebles become a slow
Tournament Angler Guide
Craig’s box of baits catches him plenty of fish like this. float lure. Crank the lure down to the desired depth, then work it with a twitchpause retrieve. 5 LUCKY CRAFT POINTER 100 SP, LUCKY CRAFT FLASH MINNOW 110 SP, LIVE TARGET 115 SMELT The Pointer 100 SP is our shallow water jerkbait staple. A lure that dives to 5-8ft, the Pointer is excellent for targeting fish moving through an area mid-water at that depth. We use the Flash Minnow when and where many anglers use a Rapala X Rap. An excellent lure around shallow weed beds, this lure dives around 1-4ft deep and has lots of roll
and flash. This pronounced behaviour will draw fish from a long way making it a great searching bait. You need to keep the trebles light on the Flash Minnow though; an upgrade to heavy hooks will negate the action and the performance of the lure. The Live Target Smelt is similar to the Pointer in many ways and is lure that we’ll often reach for when we’re looking for something just a little bit different. Shallow diving and distinct with a walk-the-dog action this is great lure to work along deeper weed edges. 6 6. 5” BERKLEY HOLLOWBELLY, 6 ½” STRIKE KING
SHADALICIOUS, 8” HAPPY ROCK Soft, subtle, and capable of being worked at dead slow speed is the best way to describe the Hollowbelly. With an enticing body roll and a tail beat that continues to work at slower speeds than other plastics such as the Slick Rig, the Berkley is an essential plastic for life on the BARRA Tour. A hollow tube plastic like the Berkley, the Strike King exhibits more vibration on the roll than the Hollowbelly and is a great choice when a larger profile is necessary. For those times when you need to go bigger again the 8” Happy Rock has you
covered. Finding a large enough jighead to go in the plastics however can prove a challenge. A homemade jighead can be used with a stinger attachment for when the tournament kicks off. 7 EVERGREEN ES FLAT, SQUIDGY BONEY BREAM A dynamite bait that barra absolutely nail when fished correctly and in the right location is the ES Flat. It’s a big fish magnet at Kinchant. The key with the ES Flat is to throw it out, let it sink, then work it back mid-water with a slow snaking retrieve. When fish encounter this lure mid-water they’ll inhale it like a lolly. If you’re talking barra lollies you can’t go past the now discontinued Squidgy Boney Bream. In the right hands and in the right location this lure is lethal. In among the weed and lily channels at Kinchant this lure has few contenders. Silver and gold are the pick of the colours and if you can track any down to buy, buy them, and buy as many as you can afford, as you can never have too many of this lure. So there you have it, a box of some of the best, and proven lures on the BARRA Tour tournament trail. Lures
used by the best, to perform at their best. If you’re packing your tackle bag for the 2016 Zerek BARRA Tour we suggest you grab a few lures out of Karim and Craig’s tackle tray.
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Tournament Angler Guide
The road to tournament success - tips and tricks Karim De Ridder
Most competitive tournament anglers have specific goals, whether to win that first tournament or even achieve a pinnacle AOY/TOY title. One thing is for sure, the road to glory is a path of many curves and every learning opportunity will move you closer towards your tournament goals. Pre-fishing, whether done months, weeks or days prior to a tournament is an essential element to your game plan to maximise performance and help you achieve your goals. Outlined below are some vital factors that will give you some direction to ensure you get the most out of your preparation, and the most from your BARRA Tour. PLANNING AHEAD The importance of simple tools such as Google Earth, seasonal outlooks, short and long term weather observations, current water levels and even historical data are often underestimated. Use them to plan ahead and you
will save time on the water. Speaking to local tackle shops and anglers in regards to recent conditions facing you prior to arrival can also help. With the multitude of information available, draft plans can be discussed
with your team mate and provide some direction and relevant starting points to kick your pre-fish off to your advantage. The transition of seasons will challenge most anglers. Although
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blowing in constant velocity and direction can magnify fish numbers in some areas and void them completely in others. Keep a careful eye on those factors to develop strategies that effectively raise your results to the top.
The author looked absolutely stoked with this barramundi caught amongst the trees.
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North Queensland’s barra impoundments don’t generally have the radical seasonal variations of other areas, the subtle changes should be noted and taken into consideration to locate fish. The movement between
seasons will see the types of forage change, which in turn will influence your presentations directly. The locations of major food sources such as bony bream and redclaw will fluctuate considerably depending on spawning schedules, seasonal factors, temperature fluctuations and elements such as wind direction and strength, which in turn also contributes to water quality and flow. MOVE AROUND The mass movement of barramundi is another factor to keep in mind as the season approaches the humid summer months. Big numbers of barramundi will school and locate themselves naturally towards spillways and dam walls, and will behave on instinct – driven and feeding hard. Ignorance to such movements and behaviour could make or break your campaign; therefore implement strategies to identify these patterns as much as possible. Within these mass movements of barra, independent ‘staging’ locations of barramundi can also occur, resulting in dense schools of fish. Find these schools and increase your chances exponentially in comparison to anglers ignorant of those behaviours. Wind directions and dam stability influenced by seasonal change is something that is easily perceptible to most anglers. The southeast trade winds
TOURNAMENT TIME MANAGEMENT The confining time limits of a tournament are a stressor that often makes or breaks a team’s confidence. Fish are constantly moving, so the key during your pre-fish is to identify common factors to locate feeding fish that mirrors the tournament times. It would be impractical to fish all night if your tournament is planned for daylight hours, as fish movements and bite periods will most likely be very different between day and night. Another benefit to scheduled pre-fish sessions is the consideration of rest times to ensure you are fresh, rested and thinking straight while pre-fishing. There is
nothing worse than burning the candle short before the tournament even kicks off. TECH HEADS When Humminbird introduced side-imaging technology to the recreational market in 2005 the tournament scene for barramundi was revolutionised in ways of unseen proportions. With competitive pricing and multiple manufacturers bringing out technology, most anglers will have a range of displays from 5-12” screens strewn across the decks in a variety of arrangements. Effectively using your technology is the key to consistency in the pre-fish phase that will lead to consistency during the tournament. Simple things such as the identification of directional fish movements from deep water to shallow, through structure or edges, or highways to and from are possible with this technology. Next level additions such as Humminbird’s 360° imaging give anglers another step up by allowing fish movements to be tracked in a way that may help ensure cast accuracy is maximised via the tracking of movements and patterns in a set range. Even though this technology has developed exponentially, don’t forget your developed instinct and that ‘gut feel’ factor. A combination of usable technology and your developed instinct is a powerful weapon. DON’T OVERDO IT – ARE YOU PRE-FISHING OR OVERFISHING? Fellow tournament anglers always ask how many fish you caught during a pre-fish to establish potential competition. However, catching a grand number in your pre-fish is completely unnecessary – if you land a significant number of fish then you are going beyond the task. A pre-fish is a short learning process to optimise
Craig Griffiths is thorough in his tackle preperations and his results show it.
your tactics and direction for an impending tournament. A very common mistake a lot of anglers make is to get bogged into certain areas or just a couple of spots and land a number of fish driving their confidence and thus their direction for the competition. Realistically you have just limited your learning process and results to a very small location. It is fundamental to your success in a tournament to maximise the ability to back up areas, deal with changes and maintain consistent captures. To know when to pack up and leave an area, or to work out the finer details of an area is a happy medium
Tournament Angler Guide
integral to the success of the tournament. Tournaments are rarely won by bashing the fish in practice time, and negative impacts abound. A simple approach worth applying is presenting hookfree lures, a valuable way to avoid ‘over-fishing’ and still provide the data required to decide on the potential of a spot. A modification of the lure in regards to balance will be required to ensure presentations are still optimal. Another important factor is to avoid making a spectacle of your fishing and avoiding other competitors during pre-fish. Those who have less public displays of action during pre-fish, will find their
There’s nothing better than the crunch and swallow of your lure by a stonking barra. Check out the gob on this thing!
spots are much less crowded. PLANNING THE ATTACK Once the hours or days of pre-fish are spent, it is important to make careful consideration of the plan most likely to put a limit in the boat. If a run and gun pattern of hitting multiple areas is on the cards, careful route planning is a must for safety, time considerations and effectiveness along the tournament time line. Always bank on the need for a Plan B,C, D and so on, as common areas will usually be found by other switched on anglers. If the area has a steady flow of fish over a long period of time it may be worth setting up and fishing to the tournament completion. A combination of these two strategies is effective if the areas hold differing sizes of fish and you are looking for upgrades. Another factor often overlooked is competitor psychology. The mental dynamics of your opposition with knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses is important to take note while planning your angle of attack. Commonly found/known areas may need to be hit first to pick the cream, prior to targeting lesser known or new areas that you may need to keep up your sleeve for different times or multiple
Craig, the author’s teammate displays the quality of barra found on BARRA Tour. day events. The number of areas you find is important, but so is finding variety and differences between your areas, as this will drive consistency in your results. With the changes that occur on the dams constantly, your technique and area during a pre-fish may turn barren very quickly and require the variety basket to pull a rabbit out of your hat. Do not limit yourself to a sole technique and area, as eventually your consistency will drop and damage your overall performance. WHEN THE WHEELS FALL OFF Whether an area has
changed due to environmental factors or that you never really cracked a stable bite pattern, it is important to keep the mind open and accept changes. If you look at anglers who have maintained a high degree of consistency, the common factor in their performances is the ability to let go of preconceived strategies when the action isn’t happening. Fishing on the fly with continual adjustments for conditions is a must-have skill of any angler dreaming of top-level achievements. Don’t be afraid to pull the electric up and start pre-fishing in a tournament, this has and will continue to win tournaments
for anglers with confidence to just catch fish. SELF REFLECTION The tournament has ended, the winners have been crowned and most people have packed their belongings and started the long trek home. Evaluation of your tournament results and pre-fish is a must to ensure that mistakes don’t reoccur. Pick apart you approach and strategies, discuss them with your teammates or peers, and let the lessons of the tournament sink in to develop you as an angler. Hopefully, each tournament will get closer to achieving your goals.
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