HOOKED ON LIFE: Matt Gibbs and the big barra he reeled in from his little canoe.
HOOKED ON LIFE: Matt Gibbs and the big barra he reeled in from his little canoe. Contributed

Now that's a barramundi! Matt's biggest catch yet

WHEN 29-year-old Matt Gibbs latched on to a massive metre-long barramundi in Pumicestone Passage the other night he caught more than a great feed and an awesome trophy picture.

The incredible buzz attached to improbably landing the fish at 1am in a small can-oe near the Pelican Waters bridge has also reconnected him to the real love of his life which has for too long been replaced by a bottle.

Using a live whiting for bait on a heavy-braided line with 100-pound trace running off a 6000 Shimano reel, Matt was targeting mangrove jack when he hooked the big one.

The little canoe, purchased with money earned by helping his brother Dan the Mango Man on Steve Irwin Way, was a tentative step back to the life the tiler once thrived on before a series of failed relationships led to a battle with alcohol in recent years.

As a teenager, Matt had been a fixture in the Noosa fishing scene, swapping lab-our for free fishing trips with Noosa Blue Water Charter.

He bought his own four-metre tinny and would head well out to sea, landing big cobia and mackerel and earning a regular appearance on the trophy wall at Davo's.

"I'd lost four or five big fish in the pylons in the past two weeks,'' he said yesterday.

"This one, the bait hit and the water exploded. The anchor prong was pulled straight and the canoe took off like it had an outboard motor.''

Despite the drag being on full lock, line simply peeled off the reel.

The monster barra pulled Matt and his canoe 15m before it succumbed to the pressure. He kept the rod tip high and wound hard, stopping the fish just short of it reaching an escape route.

Coated in beer batter and deep fried in brown rice oil, the barra made fantastic eating.

None has been wasted, even the head and skeleton saved for a soup Matt's Filippino sister-in-law will make.

But the story of this fish is about more than a great catch well eaten and put on display.

It is really about a young bloke who loved the ocean, fishing and diving but who lost his way.

Matt's mum's advice to "get back to what you love and you'll be rewarded" is also not about a fish but a chance to recapture a life that made him happy.

It's a simple axiom he wants others who have found themselves in his situation to consider.

He's convinced that while he has a way to go, now, having felt the tug and the adrenaline rush, he is back on the right path.

Barra inhale the water with their prey, making a sound like a woo-oof.

For Matt in a small canoe on a starry night, it can sound like coming home to a life thought lost.

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