No Blokes Barra Bash surefire hook

THERE’S no de-baiting it: once you’re hooked, you’re hooked. Not just on fishing for barra, but the No Blokes Barra Bash at Awoonga Dam starting tomorrow.

Now in its seventh year, organiser Amy Hiley took over the reins after the second year, and this year 34 teams, 71 entrants in total make this the biggest No Blokes yet.  

“This is the most we’ve ever had, and I’m still getting calls,” Hiley said.

Anglers from Brisbane to Bowen make the journey to stay at the caravan park and spend hours and hours on Awoonga Dam, which is lapping at the shores like never before at the competition.

A cheap entry price, loads of prizes and a sizeable nomination kit are all aspects of the catch-and-release competition which help draw a big crowd, but the social component is the biggest drawcard.  

“There’s lots of things for the girls to try for, they can always win a prize,” Hiley said.

“Over the years we’ve made friends with each other and this is the only time we get to get together.”

With the dam going over for the first time since the wall was raised, and many barra surging into the Boyne River, the expectation is this will have an effect on the catches.

“The fish are still in a bit of a shutdown mode because the water hasn’t settled; once the water stops going over the wall it will give the dam a chance to settle,” Hiley said.

“We’ll probably have a pretty tough comp, but we’ve got catfish as well, so maybe they’ll be the hot tip this year.

“A good barra this year and you’ll probably take out everything in the barra categories.”

Hiley’s tip for catching the iconic fish this weekend is simple: “Try everything you can, and you’re not going win if you’re not out there having a go.”

Traveling from Iluka, NSW for her fifth No Blokes, Chris Arnold expects the barra won’t exactly be jumping on the lines this year, however the opportunity is too good to miss.

“It’s a good social event; I wouldn’t miss it,” she said.

“You get to mix, talk to the girls and fish.”

A lifetime angler, Arnold prefers to ease her way into the No Blokes, and explores Awoonga for a few days leading into the competition to get a feel of things and gauge how the fish are behaving.

“It’s going to be hard this year with all the water that’s come into the dam,” she said.

One of the main attractions about fishing at the popular dam is the sprawling nature of the water.

“I’ve been to Awoonga when it’s been really low and it’s still massive,” Arnold said.

“There’re so many places to go, you can be out in the wind where it’s choppy or go around a corner in a little cove; it’s like another whole different world.”

Arnold, who spent last weekend fishing for bream in the Clarence River, joined the prestigious metre club last year, after years of attempting to snare a membership, a 103cm barra bringing plenty of joy when she landed it.

“Three centimetres is very important,” she said.

“(This year) I’d like to go into the teens, a 111, 112 or a 118. But I’ll be happy if I catch a fish any size.”

Fishing gets underway tomorrow afternoon at 4pm, and with a full moon expected, this could be just the lure needed to coax barra to the surface.

And with set times of fishing over the weekend limiting the amount of time the girls can spend hunting barra, Hiley is sure they’ll be raring to go when the clock ticks over.

On Saturday the fishing runs from 6am until 3pm, and 5am until 11am on Sunday before presentations at 12.30pm.

Beating the record catch of 1.2m, which was registered in the

But for Arnold, catching the prized fish is about biding your time and being prepared to work for it.

“Patience and persistence,” she said.

“(This competition) we’ll just have to pick the right lure to make them bite.”