Getting barra twitchy
  |  First Published: February 2013

And with a ‘boof’ the barra are back! Most reports from the north will be reporting the barra season is back on from midday the 1 February 2013. This is the real ‘New Year’s Day’ for me, forget the 1 January this is much more reason to celebrate.


Each year at this time I like to give a little advice to help get you a Hinchinbrook barra. As my first visit to this area was a whole lot of fishing and boating and not so much catching. There is so much water and all of it looks fishy. During the course of a year I meet so many visitors itching to get a barra and plenty of them don’t succeed. What follows are a couple of simple pointers that I have found very important to getting you well and truly hooked up!

• Tides for the day will dictate terms and are very important (make sure you have a tide chart). You can catch barra at all stages of the tide, but the best chance of getting a barra on lure or bait revolves around the last half of the run-out tide and the first half of the run-in. If these stages coincide with a sunrise or sunset even better, as low light conditions will trigger feeding time.

• If bait fishing, use live baits such as gar, mullet, herring or prawns. The odd fish will eat dead bait but live baits are the go. Fish them around or near some kind of structure, such as a creek junction, snags, drains, rock bars, or anywhere you find bait will congregate and hold up. If there are no bait present then move locations, barra will always be near a food source.

• If using lures then throw deep divers into snags and shallow divers in the drains and flats. Most importantly work your lure and make sure there are good pauses in your retrieve. Most hits from barra will be when your lure is not moving – a simple retrieve is to twitch the rod tip and wind in the slack line and repeat all the way to the boat.

If trolling, lure choice is very important as you want your lure to track close to the bottom or structure as much as possible. As with casting, you want to work your lure when trolling making sure you create some pauses.

When using lures make sure your drag isn’t too tight. Using a medium drag setting will mean you don’t pull as many hooks and if you need to learn to use your thumbs or fingers on the spool.

• Trace line should be around the 40-50lb mark and using fluorocarbon will mean more hits in the long run. As with nearly all fishing ‘fish light to get the bite’. Barra have very rough mouths and sharp gill plates so check your trace after every fish or bite for scuffs.

• Most importantly plan your trip to optimise fishing time in your chosen location at the right time. You don’t want to be looking for a spot to fish or moving from location to location when you should be fishing. Every location will have a bite window and you want to be fishing when that happens. Barra can bite like clockwork in some spots.

Good luck for any visitors coming up to chase our amazing Hinchinbrook barra, they are delicious on the plate but please remember to only take what you need for a feed and put them back carefully for future generations to enjoy. Barra are too special to only catch once.


The water temps are really up now and fishing can be very patchy at times. Tide changes play such a big role in turning the fish on and off and a ‘dead’ spot one minute can be alive the next.

There have been some decent small mouth nannygai being caught if you’re lucky to find somewhere the sharks are not about. Sharks have really been a nuisance, you expect to get ‘sharked’ but some trips are ridiculous and we are spending a lot of time and fuel moving spots to try avoid them.

Trout are being caught out in the deeper water, and afternoon sessions have been the best by far.

The islands have been quiet in terms of reef fishing but is producing tuna and GT for those wanting some fun and games in some amazing scenery. The jetty has been dishing out some severe punishment of late. Big GT and golden snapper the size of small cars are destroying things at the moment – hook up and hang on!

The golden snapper fishing has been mind blowing at times and it is not uncommon to boat multiple fish in some sessions. They are special fish and, except one for the table, should all be released especially the larger ones.


Shazza and a Hinchinbrook icon – a gleaming silver barra.


Golden snapper pull like trains and are out in numbers during the heat.

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