Rusty’s 1st “metrey” takes out Barra Nationals

TWENTY two years, three months and 24 days. That’s how long Northern Territory barramundi fisho Russel (Rusty) Fry had to wait before he nailed his first metre plus barra – and what a barra! – 114cms of hump-shouldered piscine muscle that also happened to claim the biggest barra prize in the recently concluded 2012 Club Marine Barra Nationals!

The 17th “Barra Nats” held on the mighty Daly River proved to be an intriguing edition of this iconic tournament. Late wet season rains on the eve of the event caused havoc. By the end of day 2, cold, brown water filtered downriver – shutting down the fish and raising the level of the river by several metres. To win the event, anglers had to determine how to catch barra in the difficult conditions of rising water levels and dropping water temperature. Accordingly, overall barra numbers were down this year (633), however, an astounding 25 metre-plus fish were landed – a new tournament record.

After more than 22 years of fishing for barra, a record haul of metre-class fish was the perfect setting for Rusty to make his long awaited entry into the “Metre Club”. Rusty is a long time member of Palmerston Game Fishing Club, which organises the Barra Nationals. He has fished the event for years, mostly as part of the Pirates team with partner in crime Paul Williams and myself.

Rusty’s long and frustrated search for a “metery” had passed into Territory fishing folklore and anglers far and wide had heard the tales of his near-misses! Every metery caught by a friend would always involve a doff of the hat to Rusty, and countless times he had to endure the following utterance: “bugger, sorry Rusty, it was my first time too…” as a new angler jagged a metery. Oh the pain.

We were trolling mid river with big lures at the bottom of the “S Bends” looking for big fish surfing the tide upstream. My lure was struck and after stripping line, a metre-class fish took to the heavens and spat my lure – Arhhh! Two minutes later Rusty was on, and it was big! We knew that this was the moment and tension on the Pirate galley was high. When the fish was finally placed on the deck we exploded in joy. A primordial bellow issued forth from Rusty, the sound of 22 years of heartache released. He was hoarse for days! Then his eyes moistened as he realised that he’d joined the club, at last. What a moment.

That was the highlight of the event for the Pirates but for perennial achievers the Classic Warlocks once again being crowned Champion Team was their pick. Champion Mixed Team Dead Fishy, skippered by Fishing World’s own David Green, followed them by the narrowest of margins in the overall standings.

Most teams accumulated points by targeting big tide-surfing fish with large, shallow-running lures on the run in tide. This method is now a well-established practice on the Daly. However, these two teams were also able to accumulate good fish on the run-out – most other teams could not and this was the difference. They achieved this by repeated casting of both soft plastics and hard-bodies to backside pockets and eddies, often near creek mouths. Persistence was the key. Greenie was also using a device used in US Bass tournaments that emits the sound of panicking baitfish (related story HERE) – I’m sure we’ll be hearing more on that from Mr Green so I won’t steal his thunder.

Congratulations to the Palmerston Game Fishing Club on holding another cracking event. To my good friend Rusty – you took your time, but when you pulled off the feat you did it in style, well done!

inline_604_ Nats big barra 550.jpg  Rusty (centre) receiving his award for the Biggest Barra of the event.

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