Big­gest barra may well be our catch of the year

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - SPORT -

Ti­na­roo is fa­mous as a fish­ing mecca. Thou­sands of bar­ra­mundi and man­grove jack are re­leased ev­ery year to boost stock.

Float­ing nets and the dam wall pre­vent the barra from mak­ing their way to the sea, where they nor­mally breed. But they seem to be frus­trated by their prison-like life­style and have pumped them­selves up to be­yond world-record size.

Like the East Ger­man ath­letes of the ’70s, they con­tinue to break records that no river sys­tem has a chance of com­pet­ing with. Quite sim­ply, Ti­na­roo is home to the world’s big­gest bar­ra­mundi.

Just ask Terry Val­lance and Alf Ho­gan, two north Queens­land fish­eries ex­perts. They were us­ing a tech­nique called elec­tro-fish­ing in Lake Ti­na­roo some years ago when they shocked a fish that, in turn, stunned them into dis­be­lief. The big­gest bar­ra­mundi the two had ever seen bobbed to the sur­face.

Val­lance’s first re­ac­tion was: “How am I go­ing to lift it into the boat?”

Ac­cord­ing to Alf, the fish weighed about 45kg and was 1.3m long.

Both men had seen a then world record barra, weigh­ing 37.85kg, when it was taken in Ti­na­roo – and both have no doubt their fish was far big­ger.

Then at 4pm on Wed­nes­day, he was walk­ing along the shore stopped and cast his line into the lake and then the barra hit his lure and for the next 10 min­utes he fought “like the devil” to land the mon­ster fish.

And not only could this be a world record catch for Mr Neil­son but it is also the first time he has ever caught a barra at Lake Ti­na­roo in the five years that he has been fish­ing there.

“I knew it was a big fish the mo­ment it hit,” Mr Neil­son said.

“I could feel it was a big and pow­er­ful fish . . . I wish had had a pair of water skis be­cause I reckon it could have towed me around the lake!

“Then it be­gan jump­ing out of the water and I could see that it was a big bar­ra­mundi and not want­ing to risk it cut­ting the line with its sharp gill flaps, I re­leased more line so that it could run and then tire it­self out which it did.

“Then I was able to drag it ashore and lay­ing there on the sand I could fi­nally see how bloody big it was, and then the next thing I heard was a lot of clap­ping from the many peo­ple who were camp­ing at the lake and who had come down to see all the com­mo­tion be­cause I was go­ing off with the ex­cite­ment.”

Mr Neil­son said he caught the fish on an old rod he calls “old faith­ful”. It’s noth­ing fancy but it is a rod I have for years and this catch proves it’s “not bro­ken”.

“Yes, ‘old faith­ful’ did the job along with 80lb break­ing strain line and a 60lb leader and an Abu Gar­cia reel was all the gear I used and catch­ing it from the bank was also a buzz,” Mr Neil­son said.

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