Patience and Persistence – By John Boon

Many moons ago I was invited down to a shindig to assist with some Humminbird side imaging training. While I was down there I met a lot of people who I had only ever chatted to via email or messenger. There were a few good lads that I caught up with who were absolute champions.

One in particular that I would now class as a good mate was another Humminbird mad angler. His name is Harry Leontsinis and he was assisting with the same training I was but he was covering the deepwater sounder techniques. You see Harry resides in the sleepy little village of Sydney down in the New South. I figured out that Harry is a bit of a guru when it comes to things like marlin and snapper. Some of the Marlin images he was displaying were unbelievable, so it was a pretty safe bet that he had my attention.

Persistence starting to pay off. The first of many on the Zerek Flat Shad.

Persistence starting to pay off. The first of many on the Zerek Flat Shad.

At the end of the training I found out that Harry had never been barra fishing. I told him “if you ever want to flick for a barra then come up and try our Net Free Zone here in Rockhampton”.

Since that day we had tried numerous times to line up a trip. With all the Covid going on it was proving to be a real issue. Once the borders got opened up then it was closed barra season. Poor old Harry was sitting at home thinking it was never going to happen.

Finally the stars aligned and we had locked in a date. We had to cross our fingers and toes that everything would go to plan and that nothing would come between Harry getting up to Central Queensland.

A week away from when Harry was to fly up we were both watching the weather. The forecast went from bad to worse. Nice calm stable conditions right up until the day Harry was to arrive then a severe drop in temperature accompanied by a 20-25 knot south east change with showers as well.

Pretty sure I took a screen shot of the forecast and sent it through to Harry with the comment of “you sure can bring the weather with you”. Harry asked if we should cancel. I said that we had worked hard to make this happen and that barra can be caught in all weather conditions, however it would just make us work a bit harder. He was happy with that. I’m pretty sure he just wanted a break from all the Covid and lock down and you know what, I didn’t blame him one bit as I think we all needed a break.

A cool shot of some barra holding around an old crab pot on the Humminbird helix.

A cool shot of some barra holding around an old crab pot on the Humminbird helix.

I must confess that I don’t think I would be much good as a fishing guide. I drove myself mad with planning and preparation. I had one day to go and have a look around before Harry arrived but it wasn’t going to do much good with the weather change arriving at around mid morning. I did use it as a good excuse to squeeze an extra fishing day in though.

The first few hours of the day were spent scouting a few spots that might continue to hold numbers after the change come through. This is a very cool subject that could have an entire article written on that very subject. Watching what happens to fish behaviour when a change in conditions occur. If you have never done this I highly recommend it. I really have competition fishing to thank for this as it makes you learn and adapt to any given situation.

Most people will see crappy weather as a good excuse to stay home and catch up on some gear maintenance. My advice is to go and have a look at your barra spots and observe how the fish behave through quality side and down imaging like the Humminbird Helix or Solix. When the conditions are favourable (stable and warm) the fish are comfortable and generally hungry. Once that change has come though go and take another look at the same spots. Some of those schools will be gone all together, others will be scattered and most of the time they will just watch your lures swim past.


Barra are at their toughest when conditions suddenly change for the worst.


Then you pull into one of your spots and everything looks as it should be with good numbers of barra on the sounder screen. You have a few casts at those fish and low and behold “barra on”. The million dollar question I will leave you with to ponder is


“what is different about this spot compared to others?”


It’s really cool to ask yourself questions and even cooler if you can answer them. Time on the water and an understanding of what’s going on around you will help considerably.

Anyway, where were we? I kept checking out potential spots during the morning and in the good conditions all likely spots were building quite well. I had a quick fish at a few different locations and managed a few solid hits and a couple on the deck around the 80cm mark.

Once the change pushed through and the wind intensified that was the end of the bite. It was now going to be thinking time. I’ve always said that barra are the thinking man’s fish which is what makes them highly addictive.

Harry with a nice thready taken on the Daiwa Bait Junky paddle tail.

Harry with a nice thready taken on the Daiwa Bait Junky paddle tail.

I picked Harry up early morning. Rockhampton was still well and truly asleep. We threw his gear in the car then the first of many showers started. Air temperature had already dropped five degrees from the previous day. The plan was fairly simple to start with, we would see if we could snag a bigger fish and if they didn’t want to play the game then we would chase some smaller school sized barra.

The trip out to the first area was pretty good. The wind hadn’t completely woke up yet and the showers were back to a light drizzle. I did a quick scan past with the sounder to have a quick look at numbers, scattered at best. We positioned the boat and started to flog the water with cast after cast. Two hours into it and we well and truly had a full bag……of cod. Not one barra bite which wasn’t surprising.

Seeing as Harry hadn’t barra fished before we had plenty of time to discuss things like techniques, boat positioning and retrieves for different lures. He picked it up very quickly, not bad for a southern snapper fisho.

We left the big fish spot and moved onto smaller schooling fish. Even these guys were hard to find in the blustering conditions. We could only find small patches of two’s and three’s, they would have to do.

I was changing boat position and lures constantly trying to find something that would work, crack the code so to speak. The first bit of hope came off a small lay down. I was slow rolling a Molix RT shad with a stinger on the front. There was no bite, just weight and then the fish ran straight at the boat. I wound quickly and set the hook, once I managed a couple of jabs the fish took off under the boat with a silver flash and the hook pulled. I looked up above and said “why?”

Harry's barra just about to be tagged before release.

Harry’s barra just about to be tagged before release.

I had a good think about that barra over the next few casts as the hookup was rather strange. What I actually think happened was I rolled that lure over the fish and jagged it with the stinger for a short period. Always a good idea to pull apart the events when you don’t get the desired outcome, it’s a great way to learn. I think it just proved how lethargic the barra were.

We persisted in the same spot as there were still a couple of barra sitting hard against the timber. We were still changing positions and lures regularly. The usual lures were getting no interest so it was time to downsize everything. Back to 20lb leader and an 1/8th jighead with a 2 inch gulp shrimp.

I worked it super slow with a couple of little sharp lifts every now and then. I finally got the doink and set the hook. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to see a smallish barra dance across the surface. Some days they can be as easy as whiting to catch and you can catch ten without even breaking a sweat and then other days like today you work your guts out for a couple of nibz.

We put a tag in the barra which came in at 66cm and set him free. We persevered in this area for about another hour and got one more hookup on a Molix RT shad which unfortunately threw the hook. It was now after midday and Harry was pretty happy to retire for some much needed sleep and get fuelled up for the following and final day.

I had plenty of time to think about what happened during the day on the drive home and what we could do differently to try and get a better result. Multiple days when barra fishing is a gem because you can learn and adjust as you go, it can be very hard to put it all together if you’ve only got one day.

The second day started much the same as the first, picking Harry up with showers hovering over Rockhampton. We were super keen to get back into it so with a quick launch we were on our way.

The first spot we started at was a bit of what I would call a pressured spot. Lots of people know about it but if you can get one to bite its normally a good one. Because we put in early we got there first and set ourselves up. Big barra and threadies were coming through on the Helix side and down imaging.

Sometimes the results are easy and then on days like this day you work your butt off for even the little fellas.

Sometimes the results are easy and then on days like this day you work your butt off for even the little fellas.

Both Harry and myself were cycling through lures trying to find something that would work. Within about a half hour we had another 5 boats join us. With that much extra noise on fish that were already pressured, we made the call to try another couple of sneaky spots where we could have it to ourselves.

On about the 4th spot we finally sounded up would looked like some potential. Barra holding tight to the bottom with good bait close by. I swung the boat and hit spot lock. It only took about a dozen casts and we got our first hit which missed the hook. Even though we didn’t get that solid hookup we wanted it gave us confidence that the spot would work.

We persisted on this spot cycling through lures and boat positioning. Finally I got a hookup and put a good school sized barra in the boat. I tagged, released it and got back to fishing.

The next few casts went like “whack, whack, fish on!” Another barra on the board. By this time we had cracked a pattern. 5-7 inch paddle tails were getting the interest but in white only. I looked at Harry and handed him what had been the stand out so far which was a Zerek Flat shad.

About two casts later and Harry was on. This was his first ever barra so he was definitely nervous and so was I holding the net. After a short fight we had him on the deck. Harry was shaking like a leaf. High fives all round and a sigh of relief for everyone.


We had battled inconsistent weather and what seemed like shut down fish for two days to finally get some momentum.


We tagged the barra and got a few proud happy snaps before release.

We continued on and we put a few more good barra on the board. We were approaching the end of the day. Harry said “is there anywhere we might be able to catch a thready on the way back?” I didn’t really have any reliable spots with the wind direction but it just so happened while we were chatting I swung the boat out and run over a little lump that had a good show of threadies on it.

I was sending in all the reliable thready lures I had with me and I couldn’t get a tap. Harry brought out one of his confidence lures from back home which was a Daiwa Bait Junkie paddle tail. It was the most ugliest colour I have ever seen and you know what, it bloody worked.

It couldn’t have been a better fairy-tail ending. The fish Harry had hooked turned out to be a beautiful king thread fin coming in at 91cm. So many goals ticked, lessons learnt and a good time had by all even if we had to put up with the wind and showers.

I think it’s safe to say that Harry is now hooked. He’s already planning to bring his own boat back and make a longer holiday for the next round.

It was great to spend time chasing my absolute favourite fish and do it with a good mate. Barra on the deck and good company just seems to make the best trips, wouldn’t you agree?

Nothing better then finally cracking the code and putting one on the deck.

Nothing better then finally cracking the code and putting one on the deck.