By Cliff Mann
Good lord it’s been a slow year on the barra. A prolonged cold winter has made for some tough conditions and I’ve had to work very hard to get a bite. The surface strike from a barra stops your heart and makes you have to think about breathing again, and since they’ve not been keen to play as much this year I’ve had to resort to a surface fix of a slightly different flavor.
Sooty grunter are usually up for some surface action even when the temps are low so they’ve been my staple this year and taught me a lesson or two in the process.
Lesson number one:- Don’t bring a butter knife to a cannon fight…..
Sooties have the one punch groin knockout of a dirty street fighter and will smoke you through the timber quicker than you can soil yourself! I’ve been hitting them pretty hard using my 8-16lb Inflict (INF-16-F70). I was tending toward lighter gear, but you can only loose so many lures before enough is enough! The 16-F70 also allows for a little ‘barra-surance’ in case a silver beasty hops on. Lesson learned – go hard or go home – when that take comes on the surface, you’ve got to extract them from their lair A.S.A.P. or it’s over before the fat lady even clears her throat!
Lesson number two:- Hone your spider sense…..
If you have cat like reflexes, bring them…you might just be fast enough to react to the sooty surface strike. It’s become a case now of instinct as opposed to reaction and I’ve even gone too far at some stages and pulled the lure from the water before the hit even comes! Watch the lure with your peripheral vision, as it jerks and wobbles across the surface, but try to focus on everything else around it. It can be exhausting stuff.
Lesson number three:- Pause for effect….
The most surface success I’ve had to date has been with the Megabass Grand Siglet in varied colours. I’ve yet to put its kissing cousin the Beetle X into the fray, but I suspect it will receive the same attention, especially now that the summer storms have started and there have been sporadic beetle hatches. About that pause though…it’s not so much the pause as the movement afterwards. Whilst on a brief after work trek, I encountered some timber poking out of the water that just screamed ‘sooty-ville’.
Cast after cast went untouched until I decided to pause the Siglet over the protruding limbs. The subsequent spray of white water from the strike upon resuming the retrieve was an electric kick-start to the heart, and the bend of my rod was matched only by the maniacal grin on my face.