Most down south wouldn’t of felt it, but us here up north, particularly Queenslanders know it, ‘Barra-depression' is a legitimate condition.
Constant dreams featuring missed metreys by night, late evenings stalking Google Earth. For months over the closed season, barra tragics acting like an old dog with fleas unable to scratch the constant itch. Not being able to sit still, they find themselves sharpening hooks, changing split rings and counting down the days, hours and even seconds till season opening.
But, come midday February 1 every year BOOM ‘Barrafever’ sets in. A somewhat opposite condition to ‘Barrapression’ barra anglers begin the 8 month elated charge at all things chrome. A thirst for that metrey and the knee trembling anxiety with your heart in throat during every cast of an Old Dog. All in anticipation of that trademark barra bump, as the lure hits the back of it throat.
North Queensland have had a great monsoonal rain event in recent weeks which will get some of those billabong locked barra flowing into the major rivers and estuaries and given passage for this year recruitment to make its way into these lagoons. Although Central Queensland has appeared to miss the monsoonal wet this year, with Net Free Zones well established, barra fishing will be at a premium in the coming months and years.
For those just starting out, its essential that a few fundamentals are applied when chasing these somewhat fussy chrome scaled beings on an artificial.
Here are a few tips!
Choose the right depth lure to put it past their nose! Barramundi are an ambush feeder, feeding exerting as little energy as possible. I like to refer to it as the ‘Barra Sushi Train’, sit and let the food come to you.
Barra eyes look up, so they feed from above their head. In the shallows using a shallow diving lure, 0.5m-1m running lure like the Guttermaster 100mm Shallow is the pick of the litter in my opinion. A nice slow retrieve and let the lure do its thing!
At depth it becomes a little tricky, particularly while trolling. Usually a deep diver will come in a couple of depths standard, somewhere between the 10-15ft. These depths can be subtly adjusted while trolling by adjusting the distance from the back of the boat.
On the cast its important to get where the Barra are in the shortest time possible to maximise the time that lure is in the strike zone. Bit more science in using deep divers! Drag the lure down with a sweep of the rod, if snag bashing the beauty of a Old Dog is they are snag resistant, so they can be confidently numbed through tough tight terrain.
Big barra eat small lures. The Guttermaster 100mm in colour #15 Bleeding Mullet accommodated for this 1m+ specimen. Smaller mullet and green back herring are the most common bait around the harbour, its the old saying "Match the Hatch!"
Match the Hatch
We've all heard it, but it would have to be one of the most important rules to abide by and that goes for all species, match what they are eating.
Observing, knowing what they are eating assists you in correct lure selection. Matching the size of the bait and not going to big is the key.
I'm big on natural colours, always have been and through habit continue to do so. However, what I believe is more important is contrast, darker colours on light base colours. The old ‘Bleeding Mullet’ has been my go-to lure colour for ever and is the easiest colour to describe contrast, black back and red strips on silver base. PERFECTION, hey DK? 😉
Although ladies will say size doesn't matter, in the case of the size of lure it certainly does. They say big lures catch big barra, well, so do smaller lures. All of my metre barra have been caught on lures less than 5” or 135mm long. If big mullet are frequenting the area then certainly change to something with a longer profile, personally through experience I like to stay 135mm or under, perfect example are the Guttermaster 100s and The Mutt 135s. Both dynamite on big barra, hint, hint! 😉
This leads me into good lure selection. I have often had the piss taken out of me for being stingy on buying lures, but I will say right here on the record. “Don't waste you money on expensive Japanese plastic lures with poor hardware”, most them have a poor action which require to much user movement to get it moving. Invest in a lure proven to get the job done, has its own action, has quality rings and strong trebles! Barra are renown treble/ring wreckers, tip for a younger player, take an Old Dog for a walk, they work and won't let you down.
Pick lures that will serve you well, from action to hardware. This Guttermaster 100mm Shallow accounted for the fish in the first photo above. Note the trebles and rings are in tact and the lure still swims with its original action. Out of the box this lure comes fitted with heavy duty 6X strong hooks and custom made split rings.
Right Place, Right Time
The number one question on everyone's lips! You can throw and troll all of the lures in the world, but if you aren’t in the right area at the right time you’ll churn up donuts everyday of the week.
It takes an angler a lifetime to work out a species, their movements and their habits. Sounder technology has revolutionised fishing for barra as we know it, but there are some key observations which will make for a successful trip finding them.
Dirty water is a great place to begin. Dirty water provides cover, cover for predictors and bait. Barra love dirty water, it a great place to for them to roam and ambush a feed. Dirty water can come in a range of different ways, but find dirty water and find barra.
Without sounders, observation is a disappearing art. Good fisherman or hunters are great at observing the goings on around them and make the right decisions at precise times, it’s something that comes with time. Take note of things around you, a boof, bait spraying, when you got a bite all things that tell a story.
Barra fishing can be like being in a rainforest or a desert. Get the simple things right and usually the rest fall into place! Watch what’s going on around you, react and learn. Learn from every trip and your barra fishing will continue to prosper.
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