Barramundi are northern Australia’s most iconic sportfish. They bite aggressively and fight hard with spectacular jumps, thrashing headshakes and hard sustained runs. Every dedicated angler would like to catch a barra and the Queensland barra impoundments put them within easy reach of most.
The average size of barra in some of the lakes is growing and Lake Awoonga and Lake Monduran are both in a rebuilding phase since the floods in 2011 Some catch fish others.., many others go home defeated and fishless.
This is a brief guide, put together by the barra anglers, to help beginners achieve barra success and to make your time on the barra impoundments safer and more enjoyable for you and other anglers.
Casting for Barra
This is becoming increasing popular with many anglers, particularly as the barra lakes are often more heavily fished and barra are becoming wiser and associate boat noise with danger. This is why casting can have an advantage over trolling, as long as you do it quietly
Casting while using an electric motor – Using an electric motor allows you to fish along a bank quietly, continuously adjusting your position, or holding up on one spot as required. You can cover a lot of water casting along a bank and seek out areas where barra are biting.
Anchoring and Casting - This is the best way to target barra at your chosen location, particularly if it is windy. As you head towards your anchoring spot, it pays to idle quietly or even drift into position before anchoring. When anchoring it is vital to lower your anchor quietly! Tying off on trees is another good way to fish, just make sure you can untie quickly if you need to chase fish!
Casting lures - When casting, you can use surface lures, hardbodied lures or soft plastic swimbait lures. Depending on the situation, it pays to try a few different lures and colours. There are many plastic Swimbaits on the market now they are easy to use just cast out and retrieve slowly.
It pays to make long casts and work you lures close to the bottom or weed edge. If you are using a hardbody lure mix up your retrieves regularly to attract a strike, change the speed or use plenty of twitches or pauses particularly if you are using a suspending lure.
Casting outfits – Same as trolling outfits, but they must have the ability to cast longer distances. Heavier 70lb leaders are recommended for casting swimbaits, as the barra are often hooked deep in the mouth and will be easily bitten off on lighter leader
Eating Qualities and Regulations
Unlike the saltwater versions, impoundment barramundi are not good table fare. Check the size and bag limits, as well as closed season variations before you keep a barra.
SIP: A Stocked Impoundment Permit is required on many barra lakes. Check local regulations.
Handling Barramundi for Release
A knotless net, like an Environet, or rubber meshed net is the best type of net to reduce damage to the fish. Try to minimise the time out of water as it is critical to the survival of a fish. More than two minutes is likely to kill them. Once you’ve netted your barra keep it in the water while you prepare the camera and measuring mat/ruler. Also wet the mat or the deck that you intend to put the fish on - then bring the barra onboard.
Do not lift a barra by its lower jaw! This will cause damage to the fish usually resulting in death. Always use your other hand to support the mid section of the fish.
Impoundment Barra can be very fickle fish. We can’t predict when barra will bite. But there are certain periods when they might be more likely to come on the chew. These are:
*Low light periods of dawn and dusk
*If there is a wind change, they may bite on the lull in between the change.
* Night time fishing can be good when moonlight first appears, either when it first rises. Or if cloud clears and the moon comes out.
*Stable conditions are the best. If a change hits, they often shut down for a day or two, but will come back on after a few days. They much prefer warm northerly winds over cold southerlies.
Times of the Year - barra can be caught throughout the year but prime times are from spring into summer. Autumn and winter can be very productive unless there is a real cold snap.
Queensland’s barra lakes can become very rough without warning! Ensure that your boat is capable of handling the conditions and that you have all the correct safety gear.
Night time fishing - can be very productive, but if you plan to stay out, ensure you use your navigation and anchor lights when travelling to remain fully visible to other boats. Be aware, some boats still travel quickly at night.
A GPS is a valuable tool for night time navigation. Even on moonlit nights, if cloud cover comes over, it is very easy to get disoriented. This is where it is handy to use GPS marks and tracks to help you find your way home.
A spotlight is very useful for night time travel, particularly in heavily timbered lakes.
A headlight torch is another good idea when night time fishing.
Impoundment barra are smart fish. Using stealth (keeping boat noise to a minimum) is an essential element of catching barra. When trolling, the quieter your motor, the better your results., electric motors are even better. Run your lures further back to improve your trolling results. When anchoring always move into position and lower the anchor quietly. If you operate your main motor it may take 10 – 20 minutes before fish will start biting in that area again. Do not close hatches loudly or stomp on decks.
Many newcomers can take a while to come to terms with the stealth factor, once they understand, they start catching more fish
Barra Anglers Code of Conduct
*Be Courteous to other fishermen.
*If you are operating your main motor, try and keep at least 100m clear of other boats fishing.
*Casters – please don’t anchor in the way of trollers that are working a particular bank.
*Trollers – Be considerate of casters by staying clear of boats anchored or using electric power.
*Don’t be a blowfly! If someone catches a fish, it is extremely rude to move in on their spot.
*Location Occupied - If another boat is fishing ‘your’ spot before you get there, it’s time to find another spot. Barra are spread right throughout the lake, so don’t get focused on one spot.
*Enjoy your Fishing – It can be many hours between barra bites at times. Stay positive, relax, and enjoy the sights, sounds, smells of the lake and the nature of its surrounds.
*Respect the Barra – Enjoy the experience! If you want to keep your barra, bleed and ice down or clean quickly. If you plan to release – handle carefully and quickly.
Good Luck! Happy and Safe fishing