Taylor Boys take out the Awoonga Barra Trophy in a tough bite
On the 20th and 21st August 2020 the second round of the new ‘Barra Trophy’ tournaments was held on the renowned home of big barra, Lake Awoonga. 19 teams entered, all with the desire to land a massive slice of chrome and muscle, also known as destroyers of tackle and dreams.
With Lake Awoonga at 89% capacity, a far cry from the 32% the lake was in last year’s ABT Barra tour, it presented a new arena for the majority of anglers. The condition of the lake could only be described as pristine, with new weed beds forming, lots of newly submerged timber and shrubs, and a massive increase in shoreline and fishable territory. Baitfish were prolific, but water temps were lower than hoped, hovering around the 20 – 21 degree mark, and steady. Recent captures by guides and locals on the lake indicated the fish were there to be caught by anglers who persevered.
After a lakeside briefing, the teams set out at 4pm Friday in great conditions, with five hours to try and put a barra or three on the brag mat. The first team able to achieve that was Team Serrengetti, with Karl Rembacher on the rod, and Richard Price on the net. The 106cm fish was taken on a 110 Slick rig at 6.25am, and earnt Karl a Foxies tackle pack for first barra taken in the tournament.
Back at the tag board, as teams returned, several tales of lost fish were told, and just seven teams handed in their folders, complete with their digital memory cards to record their captures. Six of the seven teams had landed just one fish with just one team landing two barra – Team Evinrude/Minn Kota consisting of AFC & ABT Barra champs Cy and Kerrin Taylor. They stuck to a proven tactic fishing modified slick rig lures across shallow weedbeds to take the Session One cash prize of $50 with two fish for 198cm.
An early morning barometric spike, and warming conditions, gave anglers renewed enthusiasm to tackle the five-hour morning session. But again Lake Awoonga lived up to its reputation as place where dreams are made and sometimes shattered, with only one team registering a barramundi for the session.
Team Narangatangs consisting of Glen Smith and Michael Weick took the honours and $50 cash for the session. With a feisty 86cm barra that inhaled Micheal’s Saruna, that become wedged inside its mouth, eliminating the chances of it throwing the hooks. Earlier in the session, Glen dropped a huge barra late in the fight, leaving him shattered as he’d also dropped a big one in the previous session.
There was very little encouragement for most teams in the morning session, although Dan Grech managed to lose a fish at the boat, when the hooks came free on its final surge…
The final session again kicked off at 4pm Saturday, and was extended by an hour to 10pm due to overwhelming angler demand. This evening session proved just as productive as the Friday evening session, with eight barra gracing the brag mat, and several more proving elusive.
Team Scaleforce and the Nerangatangs both made late charges for victory with two fish each, but the Taylor boys held out all-comers by securing session 3 with two fish for 199cm.
19 Teams/38 Anglers
Session 1 – 8 Barra
Session 2 – 1 Barra
Session 3 – 8 Barra
Total – 17 Barra
Total Length – 16.09m
Average Length – 94.6cm
Big Barra Ladies – Elaine Sanderson – 92cm. Only two ladies took part in the Awoonga Barra Trophy, leaving Elaine and Katie Sanderson to fight it out for the Big Barra Ladies Title from the same boat. Elaine got her 92cm fish in the first session, and Katie was unable to land a fish to challenge her for the title and the prize of a Pflueger Arbor Spin reel.
Big Barra Senior – Cy Taylor – 111cm. Cy was again on fire, and actually landed the two biggest Barra for the tournament at 111 and 110cm. He fished proven big fish areas in the main basin. Other anglers hooked fish that may well have challenged Cy, but he was able to put his on the mat when it counted. Cy’s efforts yielded him the Big Barra Senior title and a Pflueger Patriach Baitcast Reel.
Champion Team Catfish – JT Reel Repairs/Rapala – 2 Catfish.
The highly sought after title of Catfish Kings…………went to Daniel Grech and Jon Millard. They landed one each, with Dan taking out the largest at 42cm to the fork. Several other teams registered one catfish each for the event. But these boys took home the Foxies prize packs for their fine efforts…. well done Dan and Jon!
Top Five Teams Results
5th – Rapala Street Team – Craig Griffiths and Daniel Roth Consistant performers, Craig and Dan took out 4th in the Mondy Barra Trophy earlier in the year. In this event, Rapala Street Team fished a bank up the back of the main basin, and had a very frustrating first session losing a string of fish, and managing to boat just one at 103cm that managed to put them into 5th position. They were kicking themselves for dropping so many fish in the first session, as subsequent sessions didn’t produce the same action, and in a tough bite, they could have easily found themselves higher up the leaderboard.
4th Team Serrengetti – Karl Rembacher and Richard Price
Camped out at the Canvas Cabin at Awoonga Caravan Park was the inspiration for the team name Serrengetti. These boys caught a couple of fish in the prefish and were feeling confident going into the event. As it turned out, Karl’s session one – 106cm barra was enough to put these guys into 5th and take home an extra $300. The barra slammed Karl’s Slick Rig right at the boat, causing temporary heart failure for Karl, before he came to terms with a fired up barra on a short leash and tight drag. You’ll have to ask him the story as it is a beauty, that I’m sure he won’t mind retelling. Fortunately everything held up, and the fish somehow made it into the net, and proved to be enough to secure Serrengetti 4th place.
3rd The Nerangatangs – Glen Smith and Michael Weick As the name suggests, Glen and Michael hail from Nerang and like eating bananas……Actually I’m not sure about the bananas, but they have taken a while to overcome some bad luck in barra trophy tournaments. In the Mondy event, Glen somehow managed to drop 11 barra and land none. Following on with his poor tournament form, Glen dropped another two good fish in the first two sessions of this event, before Michael boated the solo barra from session two. In the final session Glen finally got his act together and landed his first, then second Barra Trophy barra, elevating the Nerangatangs into third on the scoreboard. The lure of choice for Glen and Michael was the Saruna , a shallow diving hardbodied lure rigged to suspend. The boys were working them on a prominent point, using some very long pauses to entice the bites. The barra trophy tournaments are the first barra tournaments these guys have entered, but they have been having a ball and are looking forward to coming back for the ABT Barra Tour in November.
2nd Scaleforce – Justin Nye and Peter Cherrit These Hervey Bay based anglers are normally more at home chasing Golden Trevally and longtail Tuna on fly, but love getting away to Monduran and Awoonga to test their skills on mighty impoundment barra. Fishing out of Justin’s new Galeforce boat, that shares the same name as the team, Justin and Peter fished consistently well to secure a second place result and $600 cash.
Their chosen location was a weedy bay up the back of New Zealand gully. They tried fishing the shallows during the prefish, but continued to spook fish, so their tactic was to sit in the deeper water at the entrance to the bay, targeting barra that were moving in and out of the weed beds.
They positioned the boat in around 16feet of water and targeted fish from the edge of the weedbeds in around 8 feet of water, right out to the deeper areas of over 20 feet. Using the new Minn Kota I-Pilot, Justin raved about the ability of the Spot lock feature, which uses GPS technology to hold location.
“The Spot Lock was awesome, no need to stuff around with the anchor, and it just held us in the exact position we wanted to fish.”
The pair fished Slick Rig 130s in Drop Bear colour, straight out of the pack, with no mods. Their outfits consisted of Loomis and Egrell rods mated to Shimano Chronarchs spooled with 30lb Bionic Braid. Black Magic 60lb fluorocarbon was the leader of choice. Justin and Peter were stoked with their result, but also disappointed to have a lost a big fish in session three, that might have made a difference to the results.
Awoonga Barra Trophy Champions
Team Evinrude/Minn Kota, Cy and Kerrin Taylor The talented Taylor Brothers took home top honours and the perpetual barra trophy, in their first Barra Trophy Event. Fishing out of their now-famous, little yellow tinny with a 40 hp Etec, Cy and Kerrin fished two distinct spots for the tournament, a shallow weeded bay and a deeper bank up the back of the main basin. Alternating between modified 110 Squidgy Slick Rigs and Stiffy Twitch baits rigged with Owner trebles to suspend, Cy and Kerrin fished the majority of their sessions on anchor, using the prevailing winds at their back to make long casts to the weed edges. Their outfits consisted of Millerods Camofish Salty barra rods, matched to Shimano Curado reels, spooled with 20lb fins braid and rigged with 80lb Jinkai plus mono leaders.
The pair got just five bites for the 16 hours of competition fishing, and managed to convert four of those, once again showing everyone the depth of their talent. The key was fishing their lures close to the weed and jiggling them along to entice the bites. If the lures fouled in weed, they were ripped hard to pop them out of the weed, then they continued the retrieve.
Cy recalls that they were very lucky to land one of their big fish as it jumped into the side of the boat at the end of the fight, smashing the bib off the Stiffy bait, but somehow the hooks held and the fish was landed. Indeed it was Cy who had all the luck this tournament, relegating Kerrin to net boy for all four fish. I’m sure Kerrin will be looking to reverse the stats in the barra tour.
The boys enjoyed the Barra Trophy tournament, and a happy to see more barra events being held throughout the year.
Thank you to the competitors Thank you to all the teams that came and had a go. It was great to see teams put the effort in a tough bite. There was a great sociable atmosphere at the comp, and some great sportsmanship shown by all teams, particularly Team Rovex who went back to camp, from the briefing, to retrieve a battery operated white light, for a team who was having trouble getting theirs to function correctly.
Our hosts at Lake Awoonga Caravan Park, Ryan and Kylie were terrific in organising things on the ground, prior to and during the event. Including, cooking up a mighty breakfast, on the Sunday morning, which was very well received. They also donated two prizes of 2 nights accommodation at Lake Awoonga Caravan park which were well received by the lucky winners.
A Big thank-you to the following sponsors, Pflueger, Shakespeare, Berkley, Foxies, Storm, The Tackle Warehouse, Barra Madness, Halco, Plano, Lake Awoonga Caravan Park, and Labmaps.
|Fish S 1
|Length S 1
|Fish S 2
|Length S 2
|Fish S 3
|Length S 3
|Cy and Kerrin Taylor
|Justin Nye and Peter Cherrit
|Glen Smith and Michael Weick
|Carl Rembacher and Richard Price
|Rapala Street Team
|Daniel Ross and Craig Griffiths
|Grant Murray and Wayne Jones
|Trevor Burgess and Nathan Reid
|Tackle Warehouse Ladies
|Elaine and Katie Sanderson
|Brooke Ebzery and Isaac Fenech
|Matt Martin and Glen Sweeny
|Team Fish Head
|Patrick Morgan and Jarred Dalton
|Kyle Hammer and Brad Hurdy
|Darcy James and Arthur Willmott
|I’m on Lures
|Simon Black and Andrew Black
|Gary Leather and Shane Anderson
|JT Reel Repairs / Rapala
|Dan Grech and Jon Millard
|Gin Gin Hotel 1
|Rob Wood and Ben Durkin
|Gin Gin Hotel 2
|Tommy Wood and Jari Sannholm
|Trevor Cassidy and Cameron Golighty
|Barra on Storm
|$300 Storm/Rapala Pack
|Barra on Hollow Belly
|$250 Berkley Pack