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Monster barra bonanza
  |  First Published: October 2012



Hot weather and hot fishing go hand-in-hand.

At the moment we are having a monster barra season. They seem to be everywhere from the rocky headlands and nearby islands right up into the freshwater, and of course the stocked dams are firing.

October is the last chance to get into the barra before the closed season, which has been the main reason that barra are now so readily available to anglers. Of course developments in rods, reels, and lure technology have all played their part, too but without that closed season to allow the barra to breed up, all that technology would be directed elsewhere. A great fisheries management decision and in my view the best made by fisheries in my 50+ years of fishing.

Nothing gets barra moving and on the chew like those still foggy mornings, followed by calm N/NE winds that turn into the afternoon sea breezes.

High humidity, water and air temps are the norm here during summer so when those conditions present anglers have a bit of a difficult decision; opt to go offshore or chase barra.

During October I will take the barra option because of the upcoming closed season, and you will find me in and around various mangrove systems with lure and fly rod in hand.

Barra are easiest to locate luring right hard up amongst the mangroves or around a solitary mangrove on a mud flat. They move around with the tides but if you can locate a stand of mangroves with a bit of a drop into deeper water then that is a top place to start. Fish the run-in as the water gets to those mangrove roots, and the run-out as it starts to drop off them.

On the larger tides, find yourself a relatively deep hole that becomes isolated as the tide falls and camp there until the next making tide. You will find all manner of fish in that hole, but the key is to work it quietly. I use only my electric motor in these places and generally I don’t troll unless the water is particularly deep.

If you can find some rocks in the hole, you are likely to score barra, jacks, cod or fingermark. They will all hammer the same types of lures.

If there is a bit of a drain running into the hole, then that is another hot spot, and a shallowing sandy bank can also fire up big time. The only way to work out what is best is to get out there and have a bash.

Many anglers prefer to fish the neap tides, mainly as there is less water movement and more water at the lower stages of the tide that lets you move around more. Do barra bite better on a neap tide? I don’t know, but I reckon more are caught on the neaps, as there are more anglers hunting them. I like the neaps with a high tide around daylight as that gives me all day to chase fish on the run-out, low tide and the run-in.

A recent trip highlights the diversity of fish you can pick up while chasing barra. There were two boats and four anglers who caught barra, jacks, cod, grunter, flathead, pikey bream, and tarpon, all on lures or fly. The fishing was great, but many of the barra were undersized, but still fun. Come February and those fish will be all legal size.

There was no super secret lure or technique to our success except for one aspect. The casting had to be spot on and hard up against the mangroves, rocks or the fish would not play ball.

This was amply demonstrated in the clear water, with a mangrove out from the bank. Four casts at this snag while my son Lachlan held the boat in position with the electric motor produced nothing. Then the fifth cast was hard on the roots and had the X-Rap bouncing up and over the roots, when a little barra of about 400mm flashed out from under the roots, but missed the hooks – great stuff and all in full view.

We had success with hardbodies and plastics, with the X-Rap and Warlocks (with the larger bib) being the most successful. I used one of the Brisbane-made Threadybusters for the first time, and was very impressed! Four barra in four casts from a little rocky area will be pretty hard to top! The next week I was back at Tackle World to buy a few more.

Other lures we regularly use are the Reidy’s range, Gold Bombers, Scorpions, Tropic Angler’s range, Koolabungs and Manns Stretch 10s. Colours? Take your pick, as we have had success on all sorts of colours from gold right through to the pearly white X-Raps. Fluoro green is always a good standby colour, and lures with bright red tonings or contrasts seem to appeal to jacks in particular. Maybe it’s a territorial thing?

For the fly angler, in and among the mangroves, any weight must be kept to an absolute minimum or you will spend a lot of fishing time de-snagging. I use only the smallest bead chain and tie up a few of my own styles using holographic tube to get some bulk, plenty of flash and white seems to be quite successful. An 8 or 10wt is a good outfit for keel-hauling barra out away from the mangroves. It’s hectic, adrenalin pumping action! Great fun!

Lachlan was home from the big smoke recently for a fishing fix, and caught his first ever pikey bream on fly, on a little 6wt in among the rocks. He rated it top fun as he saw the pikey come out and smack the fly in the shallow water.

Pikeys are underrated as they are a top little fish, full of fight and are prepared to smack even large barra lures. A decent size pikey also gives a reasonable size fillet that tastes fantastic. Try it fresh cooked in a bit of butter with a little garlic, yum!

This month barra will be the main target for anglers, in the salty stuff and the dams. But there are plenty of other options when barra fishing, and down among the mangroves, you never know just what you will run across while chasing the these mighty fish.

Where will I be this month? You can bet I will be down the creek chasing barra and the others before the closed season starts, so why not join me in paradise?

See you at the ramp.

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