2014 Rapala BARRA Tour – Under The Microscope

2014 Rapala BARRA Tour

The 2014 Rapala BARRA Tour was one for the ages, highlighted by good angler attendance and red hot fishing across all three events. The BARRA Tour visited the quality impoundments of Teemburra Dam, Kinchant Dam and Peter Faust Dam to determine which team would take out top honors. In the end it was a tight race that went down to the wire with eight teams in contention right up until the final session. Let’s take a look at the winners of each event and who took out the 2014 Team of the Year,


N.S Black Hole Teemburra Dam Evening Event

Team BTD Lures (Benn Durkin & Matt McArthur) compiled a 10/10, 763cm total to secure out the first event of the 2014 Rapala BARRA Tour, the N.S Black Hole Teemburra Dam evening event. McArthur, a 35 year old Sarina local who works as a serviceman and an Emergency Service Officer in the local mines teamed with Durkin, a 35 year old cane harvest operator, to make the best possible start to the 2014 Rapala BARRA Tour.

Team BTD identified several spots during the prefish including a number of upgrade locations that held bigger fish. McArthur explains the team’s key location and approach, “We opted to fish a long shallow lily pad point which was surrounded by heavy standing timber, on the south western side of the dam. The point had a consistent amount of wind and current blowing up onto it and around the surrounding area. There was immense amount of bait in and around the target zones and a steady to continuous amount of barra flooding through.

We fished the area opposite to most, placing the boat on the point in just four feet of water and casting our lures into the wind. We opted to use Samaki vibelicious in gold glitter and lime orange colours and 110mm and 130mm Sqidgy slick rigs in black and gold. On both the Samaki vibelicious and the Sqidgy slick rigs we retro fitted them with Gamakatsu Treble 14, size 4 for the Samaki Vibes and size 2 for the Sqidgy slick rigs. We combined the slick rig and Gamakatsu trebles with the ultra tough TT Area 51 jig head in full ounce and ¾ ounce. We decided on the Gamakatsu treble for Teemburra as the fish class was a little bit smaller and we preferred the better penetration on hook set with the Gamakatsu.”

Due to the heavy timber in the location and small area around the boat BTD Lures were limited to three main casting angles. Casting their lures into 10 feet of water the team would slow roll and hop their presentations back to the boat. The barramundi, which were identified as travelling with the current, were attacking the lures in about five to six feet of water.

Given the rough country the team employed a no holds barred approach to hooking and landing barramundi, “We needed a heavy handed approach with the fish as the strike area and first jump zone was at the edge of the arena near the boat. So we fought the fish like a pair of American Bass pros on steroids as it was extremely important to win the battle at the first jump. We successfully did this with half the fish we caught and luckily it was enough.”
Ultimately 22 of the 28 teams landed fish at the Teemburra event. 128 barramundi were recorded in total with an average size of 73.27cm. These figures illustrate a dramatic increase in the overall number of barramundi and average size since 2013, and earmark Teemburra as a premier barramundi impoundment.

Big Barra

The event Big Barra was caught in the second session by Red Rockets and measured a whopping 118cm.

Winning Ways

“In my opinion the best key points you can have before entering any tournament is to have a belief in yourself, your partner and your prefish results. With a good attitude and confidence in you ability the results will come. Finally I believe that you need a good vibe on the boat, and having fun is a must to enjoy your fishing because winning is not everything.”

Winning Tackle

Rods: G Loomis SJR 844 IMX spin stick, G Loomis CBR 756 casting rod, G Loomis CR 724 IMX casting rod, Temple Fork signature series SWS 764 7’6” 6-12lb
Reels: Daiwa Certate 3000, Daiwa Tatula type R 100 H
Line: S.A.S Tasline all white 30lb braid line, Sunline Super Braid 5
Leader: YGK Galis 60lb fluorocarbon leader, Jinki Plus 80 pound
Terminal: TT Area 51 jigheads, Lethal lures Magnum Hypo head weedless rig
Lures: Squidgy slick rigs 100mm/130mm sizes black & gold colour, Samaki Vibelicious 100mm vibes, Smith saruna 147, BTD hand made timber lures


Rapala Kinchant Dam Night Championship

Team BTD Lures (Benn Durkin & Matt McArthur) backed up their great start to the 2014 Rapala BARRA Tour with victory at the following event, the Rapala Kinchant Dam Night Championship. The team had taken victory at the same event in 2013, and demonstrated their knowledge and experience of Kinchant Dam by compiling a remarkable 5/5, 560cm total.

McArthur explains the team’s key location and approach, “After winning the Kinchant Night Championship last year we knew that we would have to have another big bag to try and go back to back winners. We thought that we would need to have over five meters of fish to be in with a chance. Despite having several hot spots up our sleeve we again concentrated on last year’s winning location, which surprisingly we had to ourselves.

The location is a great big fish area and has a constant flow of current, bait and fish on it throughout the different bite times, ideal for what we were looking for. The area we targeted was the underwater ridges and edges of a creek like area well away from the weed edges that surrounded the dam. We knew from years of experience on the dam that in the sixteen hours that lay ahead we should definitely get our limit which hopefully would have some meter plus fish amongst the mix.”

The team both started with the trusted 130mm Squidgy slick rig in black and gold colour rigged with full weight Area 51 jig heads combined with an Owner ST66TN treble. They were rewarded early with a 119cm barramundi hitting the deck and giving the team the start they were looking for.

The team knew that they would need to present different lures to secure the bites on offer and identified key tidal bite times where the barramundi were receptive. Using a number of homemade lures (BTD Lures by Benn Durkin), specifically the BTD General in the standard bib and the deep, the team went about adding to their catch sheet Durkin on the lures used, “Matt and I have been developing some new barra lures over the last few years. The bibs were ideal for triggering bites off the deep edges throughout the night.”

Team BTD Lures continued through the session landing several mid ninety centimetre barramundi and, all importantly, larger upgrades including a 122cm model caught on a hand crafted twenty foot General in white chartreuse back. This was backed up with a 114cm fish at two am and a 107cm fish with an hour to go in the session. McArthur on the evening’s progress, “After the 122cm we truly felt we had a good chance of a back to back win, and with Benn running hot we were pretty pumped up. I managed to upgrade several ninety centimetre fish to just under the meter mark and threw in a good barra with an hour to go to amass a massive bag that kept us on track for the Team of the Year trophy.”

Team Toray finish in second

Team Toray, Geoff Newby a 61 year old part time worker for Road Tech Marine and Neil Wilson, a 27 year old carpenter finished as runners up at the Rapala Kinchant Dam event. The team amassed a 5/5, 533cm total to finish 27 centimetres behind the winning team. Geoff Newby shares the team’s prefish experience and key location,

“We did not do a lot of pre fishing at Kinchant as it can be a difficult dam with not a lot of character and the water level was dropping quickly continually changing the fishing. We visited the dam a couple of times the week before the comp but did not fish a lot, in fact between us we only boated 1 fish. We mainly concentrated on sounding an area we were comfortable to fish looking for a nice weed edge and some decent depth

The location we fished was just off a point into the 2nd bay on the left hand side of the dam, an old creek bed around 10feet deep forming a channel between two heavy weed beds that shallowed up to another weed bed as the creek tapered to the bank. We set up in the deeper water and made long casts to the shallow end of the creek bed and back out into the main dam, we could not reach the bottom weed bed so we would move in and out of the creek a few times during the night.”

Team Toray relied on their go-to presentation to secure the bites on offer. This lure was a 130mm Squidgy slick rig in black gold colour rigged with a VMC size 4 6x treble stinger under the belly. The tail of the lure was boiled to maximise vibration and dyed orange in colour. The lure was cast out and allowed to sink to the bottom before the retrieve was commenced.

The team focussed their efforts on the old creek bed with a fish coming in the first hour. The second fish came an hour later before the team moved further up the creek just prior to sunset. The team had continually seen barramundi move into the shallow weed and anticipated that they would feed in the area. The move proved pivotal as the bites continued through till 10pm. In this time the team found their five fish limit and one upgrade. Newby with a final comment, “As the night went on we saw loads of Barra cruising past the boat but could not get them to eat our lures although we did try numerous different lures.”


Rods: Geoff Busbridge Hand crafted Barra 12lb to 20lb, ACM Flippin Stick, ACM Barra Spin Medium
Reels: Daiwa Caldia 3000, Daiwa 300 Blacksheep, Shimano Stradic 4000 CI4
Line: Suffix 832 20lb, 34lb Toray superstrong, Toray Jigging PE 25lb
Leader: 55lb Schneider, 54lb Toray Fune Harisu

In the end Kinchant Dam produced the goods with 21 of 26 teams catching barramundi during the tournament. In total 89 fish were recorded for an 8406 cm total. The average fish size was a staggering 94.45cm, showcasing the number and quality of barramundi available at this Mackay hotspot.

Big Barra

The event Big BARRA was a tie that needed to be decided by a count back. Ultimately the 122cm barramundi for Team Toray took out the win. The lure used was a 130 mm Squidgy slick rig in black gold colour (tail dyed orange) fitted with a belly stinger hook.

Winning Ways

Experience on Kinchant Dam and choice of location were the key factors in the team’s victory.

Winning Tackle

Rods: G. Loomis SJR 844 IMX spin stick, G. Loomis CBR 756 casting rod, G. Loomis CR 724 IMX casting rod, Temple Fork signature series SWS 764 7’6” 6-12lb, G. Loomis 6’6” IMX 10-20lb casting rod
Reels: Daiwa Certate 3000, Daiwa Tatula type R 100 H, Daiwa Tatula 100
Line: S.A.S Tasline all white 30lb braid line, Sunline Super Braid 5, Suffix 832 30lb
Leader: YGK Galis 60lb fluorocarbon leader, Jinki Plus 80 pound
Terminal: TT Area 51 jigheads, Lethal lures Magnum Hypo head weedless rig
Lures: Squidgy slick rigs 100mm/130mm sizes black & gold colour, Samaki Vibelicious 100mm vibes, Smith saruna 147, BTD hand made timber lures


Lucky Craft Peter Faust Dam Evening Event

Team Bass Mafia/Rapala (Jon Millard & Ethan Farrell) took out the final event of the 2014 Rapala BARRA Tour at Peter Faust Dam. The team compiled a 9/10, 884cm total to comprehensively take the win by over 300cm. The team were well placed after the first session, but it was their 5/5, 515cm total in a tough session two that saw them decimate their fellow teams.

Jon Millard, a 30 year old refrigerator mechanic and Ethan Farrell, a 23 year old engineering student, had good form heading into the Peter Faust event with a win at an invitational event at Peter Faust Dam one month prior. Millard shares his prefish analysis, “During the prefish the wind was predominantly blowing from the south east. The fish were tending to congregate in one area. When the event started the wind swung around and started to blow from the north. In turn the fish spread out and the pattern immediately changed.”

The team found their fish in a variety of locations, with the majority being caught from the northern end of the dam. The key areas were weedy points where the team found fish in 15-20 feet of water. Millard explains the pattern, “Due to the higher water temperature the fish were actually sitting off the points rather than holding tight. I believe they were looking for the cooler, more temperate water. Bait and fish would come through at regular intervals.”

The team, by their own admission, weren’t confident heading into the first session, but gradually began to recognise how the fish were behaving and identify what lures they would respond to. “We found that most of the fish were coming in the daylight hours. From sundown to the end of the session it was very much a dead patch for us. In the first session it was a bite every hour. Come the second session when we felt we had the fish figured out that became a bite every 20 minutes.”

The key lures for the team were the ever reliable 130mm Squidgy slick rig in black gold colour and the Strike King shadalicious in a variety of colours. The Squidgy slick rig was retro fitted with a TT Area 51 jigheads in ¾oz – 1oz and VMC treble size 2 6x stinger hook on the belly. The tail was trimmed to maximise vibration and dyed chartreuse in colour. “The retrieve was varied with the Squidgy slick rigs but with the Strike King was kept to a slow roll. These lures vibrate at a low speed which the fish really responded well to”.

Nomad Tackle/Hydrowave in second

Nomad Tackle/Hydrowave (Ken Elliot & Willem Reichard) finished in second place at the Peter Faust evening event. Elliot, a 30 year old engineer, and Willem, a 29 year old feedlot worker, led convincingly after the first session but were unable to find the fish in the second session to take the win. The teams 7/10, 567cm total saw them hold off their nearest competitor by 57 centimetres.

The team shares their prefish and key location for the tournament, “Willem found our key location during a pre-fish around 2 months prior to the competition on a particularly slow day of fishing when none of our other spots on the dam produced a fish. The spot also fired on subsequent trips to the dam and we were confident the pattern would hold for the tournament.

The only location we fished for the tournament was a prominent long shallow point in the main basin. The point had a distinct weed edge with a number of submerged bushes which we pulled fish off. However, a lot of our barra, including the bigger ones which we caught after dark came via casting away from the point into around 7 m water targeting fish which we spotted using the Structure Scan on our Lowrance HDS12 unit.”

The team nearly had the perfect start when Elliot hooked a meter plus fish. However the fish was lost to submerged structure and didn’t make the score sheet. The team did not dwell on this for long and refocused their efforts. Ken talks us through how the sessions unfolded,

“Despite the early setback we had confidence that the barra were moving through and willing to bite. We persevered and managed to steadily put together a good limit before dark. On dusk we had a flurry of activity and managed to boat a few better barra. After a quiet period, we had another bite window which lasted until the end of the session. With a 509 cm limit, anchored by 3 metre plus fish, we were extremely happy with how the day went.

During the second session we had a good start, boating 2 barra early on but found that a lot fewer fish were moving through. Unfortunately we failed to capitalise on the opportunities we did have and ended up losing some good fish. Things went from bad to worse at the end of the session when it was time to leave and we couldn’t get the outboard started as the cranking battery was flat. We were most grateful to Geoff Newby for coming back to pick us up and get us back to the ramp only 11 minutes late which resulted in a 110 cm penalty. Coming 2nd was certainly a surprise after that!”

The key lure for the team was a 130mm Squidgy Slick Rig in Lorikeet colour rigged on a ¾ oz jig head with a size 2 Owner ST66 4X stinger hook. During the day a slow roll with occasional gentle lifts and hops was used. Once it got dark the team used a slightly quicker retrieve to good effect. Other lures to produce included a 20 g Jackall Transam and Lucky Craft Pointer XD slow rolled around the submerged timber. Bumping the timber was key to enticing strikes.

The team also made special mention of the use of their Hydrowave unit, “The Hydrowave made a big difference. We would often pick up fish shortly after changing a setting. The most effective settings ended up being Boney Bream Passive and Freshwater Shrimp run at half volume.”

Finally from Elliot, “We saw large numbers of big fish moving through in the deep water with the Lowrance HDS12. Spending a lot of time casting at these fish and varying our retrieve techniques to entice a strike proved vital.”


Rod: 13 Fishing Omen Green Spin, 6 ft 8 inch, 10-20lb, 13 Fishing Omen Green Spin, 7 ft 2 inch, 12-25lb
Reel: Shimano Sustain 400, Daiwa Certate 3000
Line: 30lb Shimano Power Pro braid
Leader: 80 lb leader

Big Barra

The event Big Barra was a 122cm caught by Colin Brett of Team Dobyn’s/Lucky Craft..

Winning Ways

“The key was to move around and adapt to the conditions. Sitting and targeting solely one area wasn’t delivering the results necessary to finish in the placing’s.”

Winning Tackle

Rods: ACM Barracaster and Hinchinbrook, Megabass
Reels: Daiwa Tatula, Shimano Calais and Metanium
Line: Suffix 832 20lb-30lb
Leader: YGK Galis 50lb-60lb fluorocarbon leader


Overall Tour Big Barra

The overall biggest barramundi caught on the 2014 BARRA Tour was a 122cm fish caught by Neil Wilson at the Rapala Kinchant Dam Night Championship. This was the first of three 122cm barramundi caught during the BARRA Tour, with the others caught at Kinchant Dam and Peter Faust. Team BTD Lures kindly donated a hand carved, boxed set of three lures to the winner in recognition of the largest overall fish caught during the 2014 Rapala BARRA Tour.


2014 Team of the Year – BTD Lures (Benn Durkin & Matt McArthur)

Team BTD Lures (Benn Durkin & Matt McArthur) took out the most prestigious award of the 2014 Rapala BARRA Tour, the overall Team of the Year. BTD Lures put themselves in the box seat from the outset with victories in the first two events at Teemburra and Kinchant Dams. However a tougher bite at Peter Faust Dam saw the team fall down the standings after the first session, potentially resulting in the team being overtaken by competitors sitting a mere four points behind. However, the team quickly regathered and caught the fish to rocket them into overall third place at the event, and securing the team their first Team of the Year title.

Benn Durkin shares his thoughts on capturing the 2014 TOY title, “I am very proud of what Matt and I have achieved since returning to the ABT circuit. After having two years off with family and financial difficulties we were both looking forward to the challenge. I believe that a steadfast dedication to barra fishing over the years has given us the ability and resolve needed to compete at this level of competition. It is an honour and a privilege to compete against such great ABT anglers that live and breathe barra fishing. I cannot say enough about the other competitors in the barra scene. These guys are all great people willing to share info and techniques and are the first to help out when needed.”

Matt McArthur adds, “After having two years off due to financial difficulties, and to come back with our four best results over two years, I’d have to say I’m pretty proud to achieve these results considering the calibre of anglers on the tour. A massive thanks to my team mate Benn Durkin for coming aboard to make this all possible and also to my family and partner for giving me the time on the water I need to be competitive.”

Finally Durkin wraps it up, “I would like to thank my team mate and good friend Matt McArthur for taking the time out away from his family to fish these events. I realise it is a major commitment, both financial and personally, to get away and fish these tournaments. As we always say we don’t do anything by half, but having fun and enjoying the time spent on the water barra fishing both social and tournament is always a highlight of the year and remains a key focus. To my wife I would like to thankyou for putting up with my obsession and understanding my drive when it comes to barra fishing, you have always supported my decisions even when they were questionable. Finally I would like to recognise all the dedicated barra anglers who attend the tournaments. Without your support and attitude these events would not be the great time that they are.”


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