Day 2: Gregory River (A Fisherman’s Tears!)
This quickly became the pattern over the next few days, a morning session until the sun rose above the eucalypts lining the river banks and the heat hit the river and a late afternoon session as the sun sank below the tree line.
As the third day broke I was out of bed and hitting the water before the rest of the camp stirred. After two days of not seeing a barra I decided to tie on a Sammy 65 and give my newly upgraded and pimped Daiwa Sol a run as I was told it would be smoother than it was when I first bought it. I paddled over to the first pile of submerged timber and sent in my first cast for the morning which felt awesome. A few twitches and there was a solid boil beneath the Sammy and I knew a good fish was chasing my lure. After a brief pause there was a solid “thok” and a silver flash and to my amazement and horror I was onto my first barra. The “horror” was the fact I was using 8lb with 10lb leader and after a few serious aerial displays the leader parted and I had lost my first fish for the morning and my first barra for the trip.
I had a few more casts with my upgraded Sol revelling in its smoothness and the distance I could now cast it before switching to a heavier outfit with a Luckycraft Sammy 85 tied on. I hoped the larger lure might entice a few barra and the 30lb braid and 60lb leader might give me a fighting chance if I hooked up. Instead the sooties just kept smashing it and although a few were sticking to the upsized trebles I missed a lot of fish so after an hour or two I switched back to the lighter gear and smaller Sammy to improve the hook up rate.
As a result I started to land a few more fish but the inevitable happened as the river narrowed as I reached the end of the pool. A seemingly innocuous cast to the edge of stand of Pandanus resulted in another much larger silver flash and a huge bucket mouth engulfed my Sammy 65. The water was crystal clear and only about 2 foot deep so I could clearly see the 70cm plus barra that had smashed my lure and swam calmly back up the river with my lure in its mouth! When it had hit the lure it had managed to head in the opposite direction to the braid and so a fair bit of slack had formed. I slowly cranked in the loose line and the moment the tension was on it took off like a lightning bolt! Thrashing in the shallows and half airborne the solid barra quickly destroying my 10lb braid leaving me devastated.
As you can imagine I quickly switched back to the heavier gear and made the resolution that it was this setup I would use for the rest of my stay. It wasn’t log before this decision was proved to be a good one as soon after I landed some quality sooties into the high thirties.
Although the larger Sammy reduced my catch rate a little, and I was missing a huge number of smaller fish, it was clear the larger sooties preferred a larger lure (even though a few ridiculously smaller models occasionally found the larger trebles on my Sammy 85 as well). The bigger sooties also hit like freight trains, and I was glad that I was using the heavier gear, as these large wild sooties would get me in the timber or Pandanus in moments and I needed the extra grunt to keep them out!
The sooties got larger and larger as I approached the top of the pool and towards the very end of the pool I finally managed a sooty pushing the 40cmFL mark
Towards the end of the first few days I dragged the kayak up to the next pool which although exposed to bright sun on one side had a beautiful shaded lay down on the opposite bank. It was virtually a whole tree and the first cast i had multiple sooties smashing at the lure as well as the armada of local archer fish getting in the way. This pool had obviously had almost no fishing pressure as I managed to pull sooty after sooty from one end to the other before the structure shut down and I had to head to camp.
I managed to fish the two pools above camp for a few days but eventually the pressure took its toll and the action began to decline. I still managed a few sooties and missed a monster surface hit from a monster barra next to the yak, but I knew it was time for me to venture further up the river to country further away from the many camps on the river.