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competitive barramundi fishing

Competitive barramundi fishing takes patience, skill and strategy, according to Dr Scott McAuley of Gladstone Veterinary Clinic in Queensland.

“The biggest barra I’ve ever caught was 1.34 metres in length—the same length as the world record. My fish was 1.10 metres in diameter whereas the world record fish was only one metre. I knew there was a good chance I had just caught the biggest barra on record. The only way to confirm the catch would have been to kill and weigh it. I didn’t want to do that, so I let the fish go and watched a world record swim away. Of course, no-one believes me. They all think I’m just another exaggerating fisherman!

“When the inaugural Australian Barra Tournament took place in 2004, it was right here in Gladstone. I entered and fished in every tournament for the next 10 years. I was pretty successful, winning a few times and usually placing in the top three.

“A tournament requires you to go away for two weeks. It takes place across several dams so you have no choice but to travel. I preferred the southern dams because I lived nearby and was used to fishing them. If a tournament took place around the southern dams, I usually won it. If the dams were up north, I was usually highly placed.

“All the fish that are hooked during a tournament are ‘catch and release’. They are so large that weighing the fish would kill them. The winner is decided by the total length of your five best fish. You photograph each fish on your brag mat and display a specific tournament symbol for that day.

“The results can be very close. A competition I entered last December was a tie. After a whole weekend of fishing, my team and the team that came in second had caught 4.81 metres of barra. Follow-up rules then come into play. Who caught the first barra? Who has the biggest barra?

“I love getting out on the water and when a big barra takes the lure, it nearly rips the rod out of your hands. It’s a game of skill, patience and strategy. Despite this, I don’t enter many competitions now as my practice is extremely busy. On top of that, we had terrible floods in 2013 that washed away all the barra. It takes many years for the dams to be restocked from a hatchery and for the fish to reach a competitive size. I’ll give it another couple of years and then get back in the game.”

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