After such a hard day on Day One (see my blog for Day One report - http://swoffingntwaters.blogspot.com.au/) and knowing the Barramundi (who love the early dawn stripped surface fly) were not much about (only two caught on Day One by 25+ fly fishers) and the Saratoga getting more active later in day (well so we convinced ourselves for our lack of them on Day One).......
We slept in till 7am - an hour and half after first light.
I usually like to be on the water before the sun gets up or even peeks across the edge of the horizon - but it was a very long hard day on Day One. And better yet - it felt really good to sleep in for a change!
We also had electric motors issues with the battery dying late in Day One - I did get three year's use out of it, but one more day would have been nice! So alas for Day Two no electric motor!
So we needed wind to push us along the edge of the lilies as we cast into them, without having to use the main engine too much and getting up later would give the wind time to get blowing.
We had a couple of awesome wind drifts at a perfect casting distance from lilies, drifting along 300-400 metres of lilies at the edges of the billabongs water stretches.
On the first drift we picked up a tarpon or two, promising but we wanted Saratoga!
We swapped sides of the waterway we were drifting to a more grassy rather than lily dominated section that was poking out into the main water - it screamed fish. On many other trips it would have held fish but given the lack of action Day one - I was hoping it would rather than knowing it would.
I laid a good cast a couple of metres past the point to the grass growing out of the water, let it sink for a few seconds and proceeded to strip in the line in a stop start pause retrieve.
Just after the fly past the tip of the grass growth, I get that typical take of a saratoga but it goes crazy. Rolling instantly on tension with the fly and the fly hook point didn't get enough purchase as it flipped and turned dislodging the fly easily - and went back to the depths of the weeds.
Bugger! At least we almost had one, which raised our hopes for the day
Fly fishers are like that - any little thing to get us casting and concentrating
How many times have you caught nothing for hours and on the last cast before you head somewhere else - one little flash or fly tail strike gets you all hyped up, enthused and casting for another hour!
On our second and best wind drift - we cast and cast and cast - deep into the lilies and I mean deep with weed guarded flies - in the back of the lilies the fly would be hanging over lilies and out of the water as much as it was it the water
We saw rolling fish, even had a few follows
I had another that tossed the hook - Bugger!! again!!
Near the end of this second drift, Peter (the deckie) lost one - a good one!
And then a couple of casts later got one at 59cm - things were looking even better!
It is so great to see that broad flank and pink spots, the fight is strong and deep but also at times some short flips and jumps on the surface. You feel that strength pulsing the rod - this is what it is all about!
First Saratoga video clip - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psrNqgjSdgQ
That this saratoga in the net made us hand slappingly excited was an understatement with the first of the target fish for the comp in the net.
I had been using a rabbit fur fly in the same colourings as Peter but a little bigger and bulkier
but I changed flies over instantly to the fly Peter was using - pinching one out of his fly box!
A size 2 fly with small bead chain eyes, orange hackle collar and black fake fur tail - simple but today very very effective give the lack of fish caught over the whole competition.
We had another at 57cm shortly after (well Peter caught it but I netted it! ) - this one fought much harder and seem in the net over 60cm because of of its deeper thicker shoulder section but the brag mat doesn't lie - 57cm it was
2nd Saratoga for the day video clip- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j41db3uvzGw
Peter had another few missed hook ups, me with much less casting - had one missed hookup too -
Peter is Canadian and just visiting Darwin for work. He is used to casting a 13 foot spey rod all day for one giant chrome fish. and his persistence paid off today with more fish hooked and more follows than myself - for all his many more casts made during the day.
You got to have the fly in the water to catch fish!!!!
getting more fish to the net was now looking grim.
Competition score cards had to be in by 1:30pm on Day Two - so with two hours left in the day before we had to get the boat out of the water - we went after some tarpon as they were the species drawn out of the hat the night before for the multiple points species. Every centimetre of a tarpon was worth triple points on Day Two. (It was catfish on Day One.) So we thought to get some easy triple points with five 20+cm tarpon in an hour and then for last hour try for some more Saratoga.
We went back up that little backwater next to the boat ramp and again the tarpon were there rolling and boiling as much as the previous afternoon - but a few less given it was a few hours earlier than yesterday.
The first few tarpon to hand were the same sizes as yesterday. But in a little side bay not bigger than a single car garage surrounded by lilies and grass - we hit a patch of bigger tarpon. Peters first one was well over 30cm and while every second cast was a smaller tarpon - you knew when you got one of the bigger ones which provided a decent full bend in the rod, a fly line singingly taunt, and zipping through the water. Lots and lots of fun.
This video clip shows the tarpon spot and some very very poor fish handling skills on my part.....
..............(though I think personally that the casting is not too bad)
So much for only an hour on the tarpon, as we lost track of time - always casting for a larger tarpon used up our time and energy. By 1pm we were done and no more of anything left for Saratoga. So we pulled the boat out and started to pack up camp before the awards ceremony began.
Peter had had a good comp so might run a place but it all depended on how other fly fishers had gone.
Three more Barramundi were caught across all the competitors (I had heard that the previous weekend comp of the Darwin Fly Rodders also had only a few Barramundi caught - something that should be investigated). As for the Saratoga for Day Two - only eight toga were caught (2 of whom were Peter's and all from only 10 or so boats) - however most fly fishers got their quota of five tarpon. While bigger ones were caught by others, Peter's tarpon ranged from 39-25cm and his Saratoga were in the second highest points category due to their size - so he was in with a good chance of ending in the top few fly fishers for the competition. And so he should have as he was always casting, again and again - and it paid off in point scoring fish.
As the scorers shared the stats of what was caught on Day Two with us, we both commiserated about the 6 missed Saratoga fish that day.
Peter deservedly ended up coming third overall and only two Saratoga fish worth of points from first place (bugger those missed fish!!!).
Well done Peter! - (but don't forget the guy who nets the fish!)
While it was hard fishing wise over the two days with lots and lots of casts between fish - we both agreed it was a great couple of days. We had to work out how to catch the fish that were shut down and hard to find - and did so to a degree. But if it hadn't been for the 15+ metres of baby tarpon caught Day One - would we have said the same?
So whats next for the SWOFFER of Northern Australian Waters...........
lots of work on boat for starters..........New battery for electric Wiring up new battery so that the motor can charge it just ordered a Cole Hersee rotary battery master switch for the purpose Check out the tiny leak in keel of boat and where it is coming from Fix radio wiring and get the code I need to start using it
This weekend is also looking good with great for tides and little predicted wind for Sunday - so maybe a trip in the morning.
Additionally, there is a hope for a planned trip to Peron Islands 2 hours south west of Darwin in early June
Also a trip to Vernon Islands 1.5 hours Nother East of Darwin - once Peter gets his first boat = but bigger than my boat for chasing mackerel and tuna offshore
There has been talk of longtail tuna being right up in the harbour not 5 minutes from the boat ramp - this I would really like to investigate
There is West Arm on the far side of Darwin Harbour opposite to the main city of Darwin to explore and work out the saltwater barra and other species in it - tides, wind, water temp, so many factors.......
More fish, more places - so little time!
And more flies to tie!!!!
See you on the water
here's one more video from Day One of a huge, and I mean HUGE, crocodile - biggest I have seen in the wild