The Australian Lure Fishing podcast has burst onto the Aussie angling scene with great gusto, quickly gathering momentum and igniting vibrant conversation in the rec’ fishing community. If you haven’t discovered it yet, let us borrow from Aussie icon Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum and say “do yourself a favour”!

So, what does this have to do with The Barra’Prentice? Rusted-on fans will know that our favourite mentoring team actually WON the 2017 Secret Womens Business Barramundi Challenge. It was a tough year for barra on “The ’Bong”, so the team played to the circumstances and targeted saratoga instead.  Recently, the host of Australian Lure Fishing, Doc Lures, asked Jo to share her tips for targeting saratoga on Corroboree Billabong. Jo obliged, making her the first female angler to grace the playlist of this podcast.

Here’s some key take-aways from the interview… and for those who’d like to tune in and listen, you’ll find a link at the bottom of the page…

Jo’s Top Saratoga Fishing Tips

  • Saratoga like to be in the shade of lilies and respond well to being teased by creating a commotion with your lure on the lily pads, then twitching the lure off the edge of the pad to the waiting fish. Unlike the eastern species, it’s very rare to be able to sight fish northern saratoga, but the are easily found by fishing the structure.
  • When the weather has been dry and the lilies are dense, saratoga can be both plentiful and aggressive, but they’re dirty fighters and can be difficult to extract from the vegetation. Fish into small pockets between the lily pads and pick the path you plan to bring the fish through. Keep the rod high and the drag locked. Your only chance is to keep them from burying you in the lilies.
  • ’Toga have a hard, very bony mouth, so you need to set the hooks properly. It’s normal to miss a lot of strikes that don’t convert to hookups.
  • Jo likes to colour the flat of the tails on paddle tailed soft plastics to increase contrast and elicit more strikes.
  • After a flush, saratoga in Corroboree Billabong often take up position in the dead stalks of lilies that have been scoured by the floods. As there is no shading of the water, these fish will tend to stay deeper and are best fished using sturdy spinnerbaits such as those produced by Gangster Lures.
  • The northern saratoga at Corroboree will take a soft plastic allowed to drop to the roots of pandanus and other vegetation, especially during periods when there are few lilies for them to hide beneath. This is a key difference between the northern and eastern saratoga species.
  • Saratoga are more active and aggressive when the water is warm, but can be fished year-round, subject to access. During the wet season Corroboree Billabong is closed and inaccessible.

Jo’s Saratoga Fishing Outfits

  • For close quarters fishing, Jo uses a Shimano Exsense DC digital baitcast reel that she won during a “Secret Womens Business” comp at Corroboree Billabong. She pairs this with a 6′ Zodias rod, 30 lb braid and a 40lb leader.
  • For stealthier work such as long casting over the lily pads, Jo uses a Nitro Baby Viper rod coupled with a 3000 size Shimano Stradic Ci4 reel, 20lb braid and a 30lb leader.
  • Barramundi are a very welcome by-catch in this style of fishing, so all tackle must be “barra-capable”.

Jo’s Best Saratoga Fishing Lures

  • The Squidgy Ridgeback is Jo’s top choice for teasing Corroboree saratoga from beneath the lily pads, but sadly is not made any more. It’s a hollow-belly lure that works well with wide gape worm hooks, fished unweighted.
  • Squidgy Mongrel is a hollow-belly paddle tail soft plastic. Rigging weedless on a wide gap worm hook works well for teasing fish from the lily pads. A small ball sinker is added to the loop knot on the leader and is sized just large enough to make the tail of the lure work on a free fall.
  • A spinnerbait is a great way to catch fish that are down around pandanus roots or in the dead stalks of lilies after a decent wet season flush.