Perfect timing for barra
  |  First Published: March 2013

This year’s wet season so far has certainly been different, either very wet or very dry.

There were very few early build up storms then right in the middle of January out of nowhere comes tropical cyclone Oswald and a very intense monsoonal trough. Huge rain fell in a very short time frame and within a few days creek and river levels reached wet season heights.

The rain was very timely particularly for the barramundi, as they could make their annual migration up river to the billabongs and run-off creeks without being hindered by the opening of the season on February 1. Without this rain, I imagine they would have been easy picking for commercial fishers down around the river mouths.

The rain has really eased since the intense low moved south and other than a few afternoon storms everything has settled and the fishing has really picked up.

Grunter were, as usual, the first to show up after the heavy rain, with steady captures being made around the lower sections of the Embley and Mission rivers. The usual land-based locations of the Mission Bridge and Gongbung Point have seen the most action from fish and anglers, while those who are in the know have managed plenty of decent grunter from other undisclosed secret spots.

The prawns started to run in early February and they will be the number one bait for these ‘foragers’; however I doubt a hungry grunter is going to pass up a nice slab of mullet, so use whatever you can get at the time. Time spent with any decent bait in the water is better than spending three hours casting your net only to turn up with lovely fresh prawns and then find the fish have been and gone.

The barra have been consistent since the opening of the season. I headed out the morning after the season opened and found barra on the bite from the very first cast, using live and freshly slabbed mullet we found some nice fish hard up on the mangrove edge on the top of the tide. For about an hour we had steady and consistent bites but as the tide started to recede and water levels and colour started to look good they went off the bite. During this bite time however we managed six nice fish over 60cm with the best just going 80cm, two in the mid 60cm were kept for the table and ate beautifully for dinner later that night.

Those putting in the extra effort and fishing during the night have landed some beautiful fish with barra and grunter being taken from the same location. Good barra of up and over 80cm are being taken on lures and baits.

Care needs to be taken around the water’s edge and out of boats this time of year, particularly at night, as the crocodiles are out and about. They can be hungry and turn up just about anywhere. So keep safe as no fish is worth your life.

Looking into March, we will see more of the same with plenty more rain hopefully. Barra and grunter will be the main targets while golden snapper and king salmon will start to show once the water starts to clear.

Offshore will depend on sea conditions and monsoonal activity, finding a fish in the Gulf with any amount of wind from the North West can be pretty tricky. When the wind does drop and or swings more to the east there can be plenty of action as a lot of these offshore dwellers see this as a good time to get in and have a good feed before the next bout of bad weather.

Finding good clear water is the key for the pelagics with plenty of miles needed to be done at times to find this good water, however the rewards are usually worth it. A good eye needs to be kept out for birds working as they are often as hungry as the fish are after a bout of bad weather, finding them will at the very least lead you to the bait and one step closer to the fish.

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