Barra back and
  |  First Published: February 2015

Silently drifting down the creek with the tide, the mud banks were slowly showing themselves and the baitfish were getting rather skittish. Then, just like someone had flicked a switch all hell breaks loose. ‘BOOF’!

Baitfish jumping and swimming everywhere and they seem really scared. ‘BOOF’! The next cast lands in the commotion and is instantly smashed and before you strike a leaping chrome bullet gets some serious airtime. It’s February 2015 and from midday 1st the iconic barramundi is back on the target list.

Hinchinbrook Channel

The chatter everywhere will be about barra, and as they have been off limits for the last 3 months it will come as no surprise that they are on top of the want-to-catch list. So what is the easiest way to get yourself a Hinchinbrook Barra? Live baiting is probably the easiest and as long as you can get yourself some good bait you are in with a good shot.

Location is also very important. As a simple rule, anywhere that you collect bait will most probably be a good area to try for barra. When the tide is full they will be sitting in the mangroves out of reach or in deep holes or snags but as the tide drops they move out and follow the tide and bait downstream. I have written it many times before but catching barra really runs like clockwork in the right spots. So secure yourself plenty of mullet or gar (herring is OK, just try 2 or 3 on a hook) and get yourself in your chosen spot for the first few hours of the run in tide. Choose a spot that fish will have to swim by you when they head back up the creek following the incoming tide.

Rig up using sinker swivel trace rig, and use 50lb leader to help avoid losing fish to rub offs on their abrasive mouths. After each bite or fish, make sure you check your leader as normally you will be cutting off a bit or re-tying.

For those that enjoy using artificials such as lures and plastics, I suggest hitting the drains on the outgoing tide. These drains will be pushing dirty water and bait out and act as fast food shops for hungry barra. Try to silently drift these areas or use the electric and lob casts right into the top shallow section of the drain and work them slowly out. Shallow divers and lightly weighted plastics are the weapons of choice in this situation.

Mangrove jacks will be about as well although most people will be over chasing them as they were top of hit lists during the barra closure. Jacks don’t mind rain, so if the channel is fresh they are a good option, just head right up the tops of creeks into the skinny water. Try get there on the turn of the tide when the first bit of run starts moving the water and hang on.

Deep diving lures and plastics rigged up on snagless jigheads will get you down where the red-devils play.

Jetty, Islands and Reefs

This is the time of year where the weather becomes quite unpredictable and serious rain and wind systems can form offshore. Keep this in mind when heading out especially at night, as it is harder to gauge what is going on in the dark.

The fishing should be very good in the deep water for reds. Once again having good marks is the secret and they are only gotten by serious time on the water or if you’re lucky to stumble on to one in your travels. The shelf is along way out but for those with the fuel range and the time, it should be on fire.

Yellowfin tuna, mahimahi, dogtooth and XL black marlin are all possible out wide as is some great bottom fishing for the likes of emperor, trout and jobfish.

The jetty during summer should be dishing out severe punishment from the resident GT. I think they must come in from the wrecks and Islands during summer chasing the bait that is pushed out of the channel during the wet. If you can get the jetty to yourself (or with minimal boat traffic), then blooping some big poppers between the pylons should give you some adrenalin fuelled moments. You may not win many battles but watching big GT smashing your popper and attempting to destroy you is never dull, trust me. Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight – the jetty is unforgiving and the resident GT there are serious fish that enjoy hanging your offerings on their wall.

Good golden snapper (fingermark) will now be around the jetty and closer points off Hinchinbrook such as Hillock Point, so live baiting with herring or squid or using plastics such as Gulps will give you a good chance. Try finding structure on the bottom that is holding baitfish and the golden snapper will be close by.

Summer also brings in the cobia and the reefs, wrecks and islands will have good numbers. Cobia will normally follow hooked fish up to the surface and then can be easily sight cast to with an un-weighted bait, livey or plastic. Cobia also hang about near turtles, rays and even floating debris, so if you see any of the above it is always worth a cast.

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