Well the Barra Nationals has been run and won again for another year and this year’s tournament turned out to be a very tough one. Although in hindsight not anywhere near as tough as the Barra Classic which was held a week later.
Dirty water, strong tides, extremely hot conditions and a late small wet season meant that the fishing was focussed around creek mouths and it was basically a race down the river to secure a spot. If you missed out on one then it meant you had to try and scratch a few fish from the rest of the river. As the tournament progressed not all the creek mouths continued to fire and the action seemed limited to only two. Team Humminbird finished in 8th spot only just missing out on the Champion Visiting team trophy.
We were one of the few teams that opted to stay away from the main creek mouths after day 1 and use our equipment to the max to find other fish in the lower reaches of the river.
The first day of the tournament was spent outside a creek mouth like most other boats that we had found fish on the previous day in the pre fish.
We had been casting at the creek mouth for about 2 hours with only 1 fish to show for our efforts and were strongly thinking about leaving. We had the 360 imaging running at the time and noticed a group of fish moving onto the screen from the front of the boat. We immediately made a speculative cast towards these fish that were marking up and a hook up was instant. Another cast out the front of the boat resulted in another hook up. Unfortunately this fish jumped off. No further bites followed and a cursory glance back at the Humminbird 1198 display showed us that the fish had moved right into the creek mouth itself and we changed tact once again casting back towards these fish that were marking up. Once again the results were immediate as we hooked two good fish of around 85 to 90cm both jumped off before we could get them in range of a net (the unfortunate joys of fishing with barbless hooks and heavy jigheads). We did manage a few more fish before the bite ended.
We then focussed our attention back to the Humminbird display and could clearly see that the fish had left the area. There were no more fish marking up right around the boat. We kept casting for the rest of the session but to no avail as we did not put another fish in the boat for the afternoon. It definitely seemed that the old adage of – “if you cannot see them on the sounder then they aren’t there definitely rang true”
The 360 imaging was an invaluable tool and helped us to pin point fish in and around the back eddies. These back eddies allowed the fish some respite from the strong tidal flow. Some of these fish required multiple casts to get them to bite in the dirty water so we needed to be sure that they were there and not wasting time at casting to areas with no fish.We used the 360 imaging in similar scenarios throughout the tournament and found that there were definitely peak bite periods when the fish would switch on for a short period during the day. The major plus was that we could see them on the 360 as we were drifting down the bank without having to drive over these fish to ultimately locate them before casting. I believe that his technology will be invaluable in the future and will lead to more and more innovative fishing techniques on the water.