28-11-2005, 10:48 AM
Some key points to remember when handling any fish, especially larger barra-
*time out of water is critical when it comes to the survival of any fish. Two,(2) mins out of water is a long time, 5 minutes is way too long! Anything shorter than 1 minute in posession is a smart release. If planning to take photos, make sure all camera gear is ready to go, as big fish often turn up when one least expects it. 2,3,4,5 minutes can pass by quickly in the excitement of landing a mega-barra!! remember, "time flys when we are havin' fun!"

* most larger barra that are landed come to the boat absolutely exhausted and spent, all energy expired during the fight. Bigger lake barra are often unfit and overweight and therefore stress more during and after capture. They lack the fitness of saltwater barra. #Again, time out of water is extremely critical. You don't see overweight and unfit people playing too much footy.

* landing nets are essential for less experienced fishers, and even the inproper use of boaga grips can lead to an almost certain death of any barra, especially larger ones. Boaga grips with scales allow the easy and quick option to weigh a catch which can often lead to permanent damage to a barra's neck if sneakily weighed without the use of a net or sling. We can't deny that people don't do this! I've seen it. Boaga grips allow too much control over a fish from the front end by using the tool as a handle. The front end is the delicate and fragile end.

* Support needs to be emphasised and addressed to the mid section of a barra to support it's body weight, and to distribute it over a larger surface area as possible, ie by also using the forearm and hand to support the large 15-20 kg plus fish, and the boaga grip unfortunately reverses this theory by offering too much control over the barra's front end/head/mouth etc, with a large portion of the fishes bulk hanging from this point. Photos in magz will back up my point! An instant head shake from a large fish in this instance, can do MAJOR unseen damage.......possible death 2 days later etc!!
(Hand and fingers is prefered because of its suppleness and flexible range of joint movement that can soften any kick from a discomforted barra.) A hardened rigid tool like a boaga will do more damage to a barra's mouth/jaw/neck than a thumb and fingers will do. Our hands, finger joints, wrist joints, elbows, shoulders etc all absorb some of the kick. Imagine boagas in your own mouth while you chuck a little wobblie, whilst someone else holds the tool. Ouch! Great tools if used correctly, terrible tools if used as they unfortunately, commonly are.

*At the end of the day, a memorable catch is recorded mentally, firmly embedded in one's mind. Regardless of what length or weight a fish is, the capture and excitement is usually never forgotten. 90 cm ,101 cm, 108 cm, etc is really the last important detail that is required. The weight, well, forget its weight, it is really not as important as the enjoyment of the capture, the challenge, the outing and the environment in which we came to enjoy. The less we have to do to a barra when in our possession, the more chance it has of survival.

*Large barra don't bounce too well, and if you have to, sit on the floor and plonk the fish on your lap for a photo if required. Big barra kick unexpectedly, and can kick free from ones hands, or can kick from seats to deck or can fall to lower points on a boat and also cause irreversible damage. Barra are big, and will only get bigger in years to come. Learn how to handle fish for future success in releasing fish in mint condition.

I too have seen way too many large barra dead on the surface on Awoonga in recent times since trolling has become a favoured option for all new, and also experienced fisher folk. The ease of landing a large fish by using this method has given inexperienced fishers and inexperienced fish handlers the chance to catch and to handle a big barra. Quite simply, there are masses of first time fisherman who manage to catch a huge barra. Lacking is the background knowledge of "HOW TO" and we can only hope that through proper education via topics such as this one, that certain messages can get across to the general public and to all and everyone that fishes our impoundments.

Open/deep water trolling has been happening for many years, and it is only recently that it has become ever so popular, and with this, the #disturbing number or large dead fish on the lake's surface. As a recreational fisher catching barra on Awoonga for 7 or more yrs, i have only ever had one fish 'lose the plot' and later die. (this was a fish that snagged itself and the lure on a tree and was recovered 20 mins later). #

Fish handling is the major governing factor in fish survival.
Following certain key points will maximise a fish's chances of survival.
If a fish seems unfit to release, or it dies in your possession, proper utilisation of that resource is the greatest option. There is always someone willing to take the fish for consumption.
Mega man hours and dollars are spent to create such magnificent fisheries. A 20 kg barra may well be 7 yrs old, and deserves the proper handling to ensure that its longevity, and the fisheries, is sustained. A strong possibility exists that that 20 kg barra you caught may well have been captured 3 or 4 times at much smaller sizes and released by others. Released in top condition, it will bring the smile to another fisherman in the future.
Johnny M
Lake Awoonga
Attached photograph - Always support a barra's body weight on as much surface area as possible. Two people, 4 hands can make handling much easier, and therefore much safer for the fish.