A BLAST FROM THE PAST
“As the fat, rising moon cleared the treetops, a sound reminiscent of a heavy calibre naval gunnery bombardment began to resonate across the calm water.”
This is my best-ever impoundment barra, from the heady heydays at Awoonga in the early 2000s. It was taken under the impeccable mentorship of my good mate, Jason Wilhelm, long before he became a professional guide on that famous Queensland waterway.
We’d been doing reasonably well the previous couple of evenings, landing several metre-plus fish between us, but this night was extra special. As the fat, rising moon cleared the treetops, a sound reminiscent of a heavy calibre naval gunnery bombardment began to resonate across the calm water. The full-bodied “boofs” of huge barra feeding echoed out into the night like peals of thunder. It was as if all the biggest, baddest beasts in the dam had come out to play that night, and anything under 120cm was apparently cowering in fear!
We hooked a couple of absolute beasts that stitched us up or made a mockery of the hardware on our lures, turning hooks and rings into twisted pretzels. Eventually we managed to put just one fish each in the boat… But what a pair they were! Mine measured 122cm and weighed a staggering 28kg (just over 61 pounds). Jason’s was even bigger, at 126cm and 31kg, from memory.
My fish ate a Bill’s Bug surface fizzer off the top in a limpid pool of reflected moonlight just 10 or 15 metres from the rod tip. The take was like someone driving a small car off a cliff into the lake! Good thing I had the brown undies on!
The fights were like nothing I’d ever experienced in the fresh before — or since. Both fish initially sizzled plenty of 50 pound braid off our reels against stiffly-set drags before going deep and slugging it out, rather like sweetwater tuna.
It’s certainly a night (and a fish) I’ll never, ever forget!