While Barra Basics remains the flagship species-specific course with the largest member base, Finding Fingermark is beginning to come into its own with its potential to assist a broader range of anglers targeting a large variety of demersal foraging species. Students are stretching the boundaries of what was once a course traditionally designed for anglers to target Fingermark in Northern waters, now, they are successfully applying the knowledge and techniques further afield.
Coming into the winter period, one species on the menu is the Snapper. Understanding the course content opens up the world of opportunities to target these fish across the southern half of Australia, even across the ditch to New Zealand! One angler making the most of the course to target Snapper is Dave Alvos from Brisbane.
Dave signed up in July last year to hone his skills and has since had some exceptional results fishing in Moreton Bay. Prior to the course, Dave had struggled to identify productive fish-holding locations and his results were sporadic at best. Dave entered the course catching barely legal fish and knew that Ryan’s course would be just the ticket to improve after witnessing other student’s outcomes.
Almost a year in and trophy size 70cm+ Snapper are regularly on the menu from almost every trip! His planning and execution of the course content highlight just how important it is to have an understanding of your target species and Ryan has provided the tools and techniques for all anglers to succeed within what is fast becoming the “All-rounders” choice of courses.
Ryan would love to see many more members enjoying their fishing and the Snapper, in particular, are absolutely running hot at the moment!! Course students have had a great start to the season and it’s still early enough to get involved catching some equally epic, southern winter species.
DAVE ALVOS WITH SOME CRACKING MORETON BAY SNAPPER.
Not only has Ryan rewarded his former charter clients with over 2000 meter plus saltwater Barra through his courses, but he’s also continued to see that number grow through his students. It’s always pleasing to see eager new students ready to ply the trade but what can be even more pleasing is to see how members have grown and improved their fishing over a number of years.
So this time around, I’ve asked one of those students to share his story.
Angler Insight- Written by Chris Ballard
I’ve always had the Barra fishing bug since my teenage years. I’d spent almost 30 years chasing them with a less than 10% success rate. Many people asked the question that most Barra fisho’s get asked: “Why do you spend so much time chasing a fish that you don’t catch many of?” Well, I thought that the more often I went, eventually I’d work them out. The problem was that after many years my catch rate wasn’t improving. I read many articles and in later years watched YouTube clips. All providing plenty of ‘expert’ information but quite often the info was contradictory. I later worked out many articles were written by people that had limited knowledge or YouTubers that just wanted a piece of perceived fame.
In early 2017 I decided to enrol in Barra Basics. I hesitated for some time trying to justify the cost but eventually justified it to myself and bit the bullet. After all, I’d spent many thousands of dollars over the years compensating for lack of knowledge by purchasing more and more fishing gear. I had all the gear with basically no idea. The decision to enrol in Barra Basics was the best investment I ever made for a few reasons.
The course had so much content covering almost every Barra fishing aspect but essentially the most important was it gave me the knowledge of Barramundi habits. This was vital to my development. Understanding where they hang out on different tidal movements, why they hang out in those places, how they feed and why they feed that way were the solid pillars of where to start. This was the solid foundation that I could build my knowledge base from.
Live baiting was my starting point. At that point in time, I enjoyed that style of fishing the most. Unknowingly at the time, it would provide me with invaluable knowledge about certain habits of theirs. It allowed me to sit back and observe four main influential factors. Variations of tidal movements and what impact that had on feeding. Bait movements and the relationship to that and how active the Barra were. Water depth and clarity and where/when they would be in a certain depth of water. Weather conditions and how that impacted their feeding. Things I may have missed if I was constantly casting a lure and concentrating on where I needed to land it. Within the first 12-18 months my catch rate had improved considerably to be at least 60-70% of trips would result in at least 1 Barra being caught.
The progression from live bait to lure fishing evolved through a couple of different factors. Chasing live bait was sometimes hard work and could potentially take anywhere up to 3 hours to get the right baits. Then the dreaded boat cleaning afterwards. I wasn’t getting any younger so my back would get sore from throwing the cast net. The main factor though was the addictive nature of getting a Barra strike on a lure and the anticipation of that strike. Once I’d experienced it a few times I just wanted more. So that’s where the lure fishing addiction morphed from. This comes in two different parts for me. Boat and land-based fishing. I love them both, but the land-based is definitely more satisfying.
Lure casting opened a whole new level of trying to understand different factors which impact a potential bite. It gave other opportunities that live baiting didn’t give but I had to learn (and I still have a lot to learn) and develop a whole new different mindset and skillset. Interpreting their movements in the water column, their moods, feeding habits and then add the potential of enticing a reaction bite out of a fish that isn’t feeding. I gained a lot of knowledge of moods and movements from my Garmin sounder with Livescope. Having the ability to observe underwater, what their movements, moods and reactions to lures were, was invaluable.
Prior to seeing it, I would’ve bet my house on that if I dragged a lure past a Barra’s nose, it couldn’t resist eating it. That mindset couldn’t be any further from the truth. So now there’s a whole new challenge of interpreting their movements and coming up with a plan and technique to entice a bite. Land-based fishing is different again because there’s no advantage of a sounder telling you where the fish are and what they’re doing. You have to be able to read the water and develop an understanding of where they are, when and why they’ll likely feed. That’s much more satisfying to catch them because you haven’t had any assistance of technology. It’s purely you against the fish.
The biggest win for me from enrolling in Barra Basics and developing my skills has been maintaining good mental health. I have a constant drive and passion to learn to be a more consistent Barra fisherman. The more effort and energy that I put into it, the more satisfaction I get back from improved results and the more I focus on developing further skills. I go fishing with a plan, but I don’t take any expectations of catching fish. I focus on the plan and my surroundings in the clean fresh air and that’s where I can zone out from any pressures of life and clear my head. If I don’t catch fish, I still learn something so it’s never a bad trip. Barra fishing for me is all about personal development. I don’t do it to impress anybody and I’m certainly not a gun at it. I’m not even that good at it but I strive to continue to improve while still enjoying it.
CHRIS BALLARD- LANDBASED BARRA, NO BOAT REQUIRED!!!
It may have been stated before, but if a better understanding of your fish finding equipment is what you’re looking for, Sounder Skills 2 is the course that can take you from the novice angler to achieving many more of your fishing goals, all in the one place.
The extensive database of information in the private group relating to successfully using your sounder is worth the entry fee alone. You could spend upwards of a week or more searching through the extensive information, there’s also a growing list of practical use examples to read through about how people are putting their skills to use to put more fish in the boat! And at the end of the day, that’s what understanding your fish finder is all about, making your time on the water more productive and putting those fish you’ve always wanted to target, over the side of the boat. Sounder Skills 2 is arguably the only place in the world that empowers you with the right understanding, putting you in control to make that happen.
During the last few months, Sounder Skills members were also in the running to win some of the latest fish finding equipment from Garmin. The secret length competition saw anglers worldwide share their exceptional catches and provide further insight into just how Sounder Skills 2 has helped them target a variety of species. The competition closed at the end of May and the lucky winner walked away with over $4000 worth of prizes. That lucky recipient happened to be Tom Peacocke, whose submission was of 2 Barramundi he had caught with his partner.
Tom wrote: “Since doing the course, my main goal was to get my girlfriend onto a legal Barra. Had been a long time coming!! SS2 helped me identify an area the fish would be holding and to utilise a side scan to mark the fish. Needless to say, she was pretty stoked with the result, more than 15 fish boated that day!”
Congratulations Tom on your effort and I’m sure the extra equipment will be put to very good use! It just goes to show how important having that understanding really is when it comes to your fishing and how enjoyable your own time on the water can be if you have the knowledge presented in Sounder Skills 2.
TOM PEACOCKE’S PARTNER WITH THE COMP WINNING FISH
The Wonky Holes course never fails to produce and is one course that I am personally in awe of members results. These areas are gold mines but like every good miner, you need to know where that gold lies. Areas of Australia are littered with these fish-holding gems and the students who fish them regularly need not worry about a gym membership, that’s for sure!!
The members in the know have their “milk runs” mapped out and even after a stint on the sidelines, can revisit these areas on a whim and come up with some sensational arm-stretching fish.
One member out of action while was Nickoli Frewtell. Time constraints get the better of us all occasionally but being able to pack up and go when those constraints ease and target fish in productive areas is a testament to the course and what you, yourself, can learn within the course.
Nickoli wrote: “Been super busy of late refitting the boat out and working. But a wise man told me “a padlock on the doors is the unlocking of freedom” so with a break in the weather, we went for a wonky bash and the nannies played the game! If you’re able to get out, the holes are on fire! Pulled a couple of fish off each wonky and left them biting to move onto the next. Started fishing at 6:30 am and were heading back in by 10”
How’s that for a session? I’m sure we can all relate to being busy during our lives but who wouldn’t want to have that sort of day on the water for themselves! Top job mate.
NICKOLI SHOWING HOW THE WONKIES ARE DONE!
While no one could argue that Ryan remains the top of the tree when having a solution to targeting these fish through winter (and every fish for that matter), course students are hot on the trail towards making these fish a viable all-year-round prospect. This time of year, we traditionally see the Threadfin exhibit varying habits as their metabolism slows with the dropping water temperatures. For course students, it merely presents another challenge to target them outside of their main spawning periods and aggregations.
Finding the fish regularly and having a solution for when the bite slows is the challenge and Jamie Ahmat in particular is gaining ground towards making them a yearly prospect. His patience, perseverance and understanding of the course content continue to grow and there’s no doubt that Jamie will see plenty more of these fish over the side of the boat in the coming months.
The little brother to Barra Basics also had its first webinar last month. Plenty of students showed up in the live chat with Ryan to have their questions, ideas and thoughts answered personally by Ryan himself. To have that quality one on one interaction with the boss is a great way for students to clarify their thoughts and set them on their way to a better understanding, an opportunity that only members of the courses are fortunate enough to receive.
JAMIE AHMET’S SON WITH A NICE SIZE THREADY
Our quarterly report archives contain a raft of great fishing tales and stories. Simply click on the course links below to read them.