Meritorious captures

Don Patterson nominated Nelson Philips from the Bundaberg SFC Qld for his Captures of Australian Bass

I would like to nominate Nelson for his meritorious capture of all his Australian Bass from the Kolan River and Lake Gregory. I will mention just one with however the story covers many. Nelson captured a 550 mm Lake Gregory Bass on 27/5/23, unlike most who fish this lake Nelson captures his fish using his trusty old Kayak, in all weather conditions from dawn to dusk. For anyone who can catch good size Bass out of Gregory is worthy of a meritorious capture. His ability to consistently capture Bass out of Gregory should also be recognized, also adding he has worked out wild bass in the Kolan River knowing when the bite is on, where they are and and how to catch them. Using a variety of hard body lures, plastics and vibes. No one has his ability in the local area, where others have tried but failed. Nelson recently pulled a wild Bass of 570 mm out of the Kolan River and continues to take many over the 500 mm. Nelson has just recently obtained his  Masters  20 for Trophy length Bass which is an achievement on its own. Nelson has developed a great knowledge of time, place and methods used to catch these great sporting fish both in the Dams and Native Rivers.

Nelson Philips nominated Don Patterson for the capture of a Wild Barramundi from the Burnett River.

A triumphant first session targeting a challenging species, in the salt water section of the Burnett River.

On Monday the 13/2/23, Don and I set out with a plan in the front of our minds after recent reports, had given us great excitement and hope to try our best to target the elusive Burnett River Barramundi.

We hit the water at first light, the plan was to catch live baits early and try out a few likely areas to catch a Barra off guard with a mullet as a snack.

Things however didn’t go so easy, for an hour we had struggled to find the mullet required, only managing small 2 to 4 inch ones, great baits for bream and jacks, the chase continued until we finally managed some bigger and better baits in the 6 to 10 inch size, a better snack for the big barra.

Secondly, the terminal gear was the next most important issue, having learnt from targeting large freshwater barra there was a need for good terminal gear. Rigging up with 30lb Braid and 80lb Leader and using a single treble hook at the end. Don’s set up was a little on the light side, thus a re-rig was needed. Convincing Don the need for stronger rig would increase the chances of landing the once in a life time Big Barra, Using only an older rusty treble, stolen from another lure that had to do. The rigs were ready. Having the baits in the tank it was off to our likely location.

Spot 1: Conversation with local gun Barra fishohad put me in high hopes of this spot, to try our luck leading into the top of the tide, also the electronics showed more than 15 Barra in this area, so we dropped out 2 lines and 2 large mullet, an hour passes and no luck, high tide was quickly approaching, it’s 1130 hrs and time for a move.

Spot 2: Resetting our large mullet baits, it only took 5 minutes, Don’s rod buckled over and line quickly screamed off. The conversation was swift, Don called if for a shark take but I was so very hopeful, I said NO, that could be the one…maybe…it was our Burnett Barramundi. Our discussion was cut short and there were no more questions on what had eaten the 10 inch mullet as Don’s Giant Barramundi hit the surface launching itself over 6 feet straight up into the air. A visual I will find hard to forget.

It was into action, as Don remains connected.

I haven’t moved so quickly, clearing the deck, lifting the anchor and getting the motor running as the fish had already peeled off 150 mts of line.

My instructions to Don, let it run, let it run, lighten the drag! As we slowly chased the Barra, reassuring Don as he slowly retrieved his lost line. Coaching him along the way.

At 11:48 now a 116 cm Burnett Barramundi hits the net as Don blows his previous 80’s model Personal Best out of the water.  With a great heave ho, Don helps lift the net over the side of the boat. On the floor of the boat rests a truly giant and spectacular capture, reaching into it’s bucket mouth we see how lucky Don had been to keep tight during the battle. The light gauge treble on the 80 lb leader was only just pinned into the top of the barra’smouth by just 3 mm of a single hook point, only pressure keeping the fish attached.

Flabbergasted, did that really happen.

With all intentions on releasing this big fish we quickly measured, tagged and photographedDon’s capture, then right back into the river to start the recovery swim. Unfortunately, after time we were unable to revive this beautiful creature. However, it didn’t go to waste as the Saltwater Barra having high quality fillets and are incredibly tasty. It was shared amongst several people.

Without a large esky and ice it was decided to end the session there and to head home with a great story, one of Don’s now personal best Barramundi.

Congratulations Don, this is a single fishing day I will never ever forget.

How’s this for an interesting citizen science story:
Dakota Colls’ 44 cm Golden Callop

The first photo – Rhys Fitzpatrick, age 3, caught this callop at Blanchetown back in 2017 and with the help of Dad, James, tagged this fish at 34 cm.

The second photo also taken at Blanchetown – Dakota ‘Kodi’ Colls, age 5, was getting ready for bed when she heard a fish take her bait. Running down to the bank just in time she managed to reel in this cracker tagged callop. Jacob, Dakota’s father, sent in the details to SAFTAG and was surprised to learn the origins of this specific tagged callop. She had recaptured the callop that young Rhys had tagged back in 2017.

This fish was tagged and then recaptured both in Blanchetown, growing 10cm during it’s journey from Rhys (3), to Dakota (5)! Great work kids and well done to the parents for showing the young generation how important citizen science is!

Dakota won herself a subscription to her favourite SA fishing magazine thanks to our citizen science recapture initiative!

From Fishing SA Magazine SA ANGLER

“Caught on the cast”   

I took up River Murray fishing late in life, as I previously predominantly fished the saltwater. I had access to several private stocked dams through my membership of the South Australian Fresh Water Anglers Association. It was through my SAFWAA membership that I started targeting the club’s stocked Murray Cod and other natives including Golden and Silver Perch etc, as they are stocked on private property (dams) and you are allowed to lift them from the water. Over the years I became reasonably successful at catching the stocked Cod, with my best going 16.9 kg.

In 2016 I started going to the River Murray, to try and get a Cod on a lure. This proved much harder than I thought and required learning a new skill set but I eventually did catch one.

Over the next couple of years, I managed to get a few more Cod but they were all caught on the troll, although I had tried unsuccessfully casting for them.

In March 2021, I decided to put in a big session. I was going to cast until my arms fell off, and I found a nice snag that I had never fished before.

I put in around 20 casts and paused my lure every time it hit one of the numerous submerged branches. After 5 years and hundreds of hours of targeting Murray Cod in the River Murray, I finally hooked up to a “Cod on the Cast”.

I knew by the power of the strike that it was a Cod and a reasonably good one. I didn’t have too much trouble getting the Cod out of its underwater home/snag. The Cod woke up once I got it closer to my boat and made a couple of good lunges, towards its snaggy home. I knew if she made it back into the submerged snag that I would probably lose her. I was tempted to thumb the reel drag even tighter but I knew there was a likelihood of either pulling the hooks or breaking the line, so I resisted. By this time, I was shaking and my heart rate was through the roof, I was praying that I at least see her and better still land her. Two of the lunges were just near the surface but deep enough for me not to able to see the Cod but they made for big bow waves/splashes. Eventually I got her to the surface and managed to guide her into my landing net as I was fishing by myself. I took a couple of photos and removed the lure, then released her. Once I stopped shaking, I needed to share this with someone, so I texted a couple of mates, who either returned texted or phoned me and congratulated me, as they knew how much time and effort, I had put in. 

This made the early mornings and around 5,000 kms of travel over the years and probably a thousand plus dollars in a combine spend of lures, petrol, accommodation etc, well worthwhile.

To say I was “ecstatic” would be an understatement!

Steve Incledon

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