Ladies Tournament Experience

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Photo courtesy of Amber Johnstone Gygi

This year Jo Starling and I decided to travel from NSW up to Darwin to participate in the Secret Women’s Business Barra Challenge. This tournament is designed to encourage ladies to skipper their own boat, reverse and back down their own trailer and work out and catch their own fish. Although there are some very skilled lady anglers and skippers who enter this tournament it is aimed at ladies of all skill levels, whether you are a novice or experienced.

For Jo and I it was about introducing new female blood into the sport of fishing and teach this person in all aspects of fishing, skippering and tournament fishing. The person we invited was Teagan Ackerman. A 21-year-old lady from Wollongong Area NSW whom had fished a little but with limited experience and never fished a tournament before. We were aiming to teach her to rig weedless lures, learn some knots, drive the electric motor and work the sounder. Trouble is though we had a very rushed trip. We got to hit the water Wednesday afternoon, spend a full day Thursday pre-fishing and then it was game on Friday and Saturday and fly back home Sunday.

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After the tournament I didn’t know if a tournament situation was the right way to do this as the Billabong was of low water level, pressured from 40 odd teams and weekend traffic and basically fishing was tough. We spent a lot of hours casting and changing up our lures in between bites.

After a de-brief with Teagan on the flight home though I think we may have done something right as she is already asking if there are any other ladies tournaments on that I know of.

The tournament taught her that it is fishing and not catching and how perseverance and putting a lure on that you are confident in can sometimes make all the difference. Teagan caught a lovely 75cm barramundi on a gold bomber.

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It also taught her to crimp her own barbs, attach her leader to the braid, driving the electric motor and sometimes in the wind how hard it is to concentrate on both, finding the right hook size to rig weedless lures and how frustrating if you didn’t rig it right you would be snagged every 2nd cast. She was already a gem on the tiller steer, in fact she brushed up our skills on this, as we were both use to steering wheels.

Mostly though it was about teamwork, if someone hooked up, the electric motor was driven straight in at the fish before it got you snagged around a lily pad, someone was on the net and then it was teamwork to get the fish measured and photographed. It also proved that all team members were important as each other.  Teagan’s catch and release of the barramundi definitely put us in the top 10 but our catch and release of saratoga pushed us to 5th position on day 2.

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It was a great adventure with a borrowed car from Rick, borrowed boat from Barefoot fishing safaris, Teagan organized a sounder and we had brought a net that we would rather just not talk about. It was also hot with plenty of crocodiles, some getting a bit too close, large whirly winds sweeping across the paddocks and over us in the boat, smoke and fog in the mornings to navigate through.  We even managed to capture a snake, which made me squeal like a girl and Teagan and Jo ready to handle it with a little too much enthusiasm.

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We hope that Teagan enjoyed her tournament experience and will now go home to keep on fishing and learning and to share all her experiences with others.

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