Hot, windy and dry has been a feature of our weather patterns over the last month or so with an apparent lack of wet season so far. I am sure by the time you have this report in your hand Bundaberg will have had a least a few storms to wet the ground.
The big news this month of course is it’s barra season. This will mean it’s game on and I am sure all those who held out to target these great fish will have a great time.
The down side to open season is of course the commercial fishers will also be setting their nets and catching every fish they can without a thought of future stocks. I have been witness to this so I didn’t make this statement unqualified. Fortunately for us after last year’s big flood there are barramundi literally in every water hole, lagoon and weir just waiting to move down to the salt when the next wet arrives.
The amount of barra caught over the closed season on live baits and lures while targeting other species was astonishing compared to the last 20 years. Most systems had reports of barra being caught and released and as 1 February rolls around I am sure all the secret spots will have numbers of keen anglers chucking plastics, soaking live baits and casting or trolling lures around trying to get a prized barramundi.
My tips for the season opener would be to look for the deeper water in our bigger systems as February’s water temps in the shallows can get pretty high. The larger fish will be hanging in deep water drop-offs, rocky ledges and at the deepest end of any large snags or structure. This is only a guide of course as they will also move into the shallows at times to feed and this can be during the night or even in the middle of the day, depending on what their food source is doing.
There are a number of rivers that will see the most pressure; the Burnett will probably be the most pressured of the lot. This being said, it is a big waterway with plenty of deep water and great barra holding structure. The rock walls around the mouth should still have a few fish hanging around but the pros will target them pretty heavily.
There are some nice deep holes around the ferry crossing and some deep structure that will hold fish. Trolling along the front of these big snags should produce; casting to them rarely gets your lures down deep enough to get in front of the fish.
Further upstream the fish will move around so look for drop-offs into the deep water and if there is a bit of structure on the drop-off, even better. Between the town bridges there have been barra caught over the closed season by anglers targeting salmon on live baits, so this would also be a good place to look.
Further afield the Baffle has had its share of closed season fish inadvertently landed as well, and I am sure they will get a work over in season. The fish where mainly caught around the mouth but as the year progresses the barra will spread throughout the system.
As the Baffle is a very large waterway, finding barra can be a bit of a struggle, so if you do raise a barra in an area, stick around that area and explore all you’re angling options before you move on looking for more fish. By this I mean if you’re casting hardbodies along a bank and you catch or raise a barra, don’t give up if you don’t get any more interest on your hardbody lure. I like to switch around between different types of lures and keep fishing in the area as barra tend to be in an area for a reason mostly because there is food there.
Switching between soft plastics and hardbodied lures and varying the retrieves is a good way of working out what they will bite on. Sometimes anglers get set in their ways and just cast and retrieve in an almost automatic ‘at work’ mode and when the fish respond to that it’s great but more often than not if you stick to just that pattern you’re missing out on bites.
Switched-on anglers will be looking for what the fish want, rather than the latest trend in secret squirrel lure fishing. Don’t try to get the fish to eat what you want them to eat, work out what they want you will catch more fish, have more fun and best of all you have a great excuse to buy more lures.Reads: 1099