Barra back in business
  |  First Published: October 2015

With the waters warming up we should be experiencing some red-hot action on the barra and also start to see some threadfin move back in for their spawning period.

The past month has seen golden grunter showing up a little earlier and many of these are the bigger models we catch around the outer islands during the winter months. Soft plastics and small vibes plus the good old live herring have been effective for this species. Most rubble patches and sand pinnacle areas in 4-6m seem to be holding good fish. I have also had some rumours of really large grunter coming from waters between the family group of islands to our north.

Golden snapper have also been firing with some great captures from the deeper waters and they will become even better in the next month or two as many larger fish wander in off the headlands. Warmer waters will mean there should be some good squid showing up for those who like to fish the evening. Neap tides around the southern channel headlands at night should be good to catch live squid for golden snapper and the odd black jewfish.

The small black marlin have been a little slower this year but sailfish have made up for it with a better than average appearance. Anglers using drifted pillies for Spaniards out near Otter Reef have spoken of encounters with sails. It’s certainly good to see their numbers healthy. They are one of my favourite species and its hard-pressed to find a more stunning looking fish.

October is the month when most Spanish mackerel head offshore away from the inner islands. They will start their spawning aggregations around the reefs off the Palm Islands. They can also start a spawn on just about any reef in the region. It is very impressive when they start a continuous shower out of the water as part of their spawning rituals. They are easily caught this time of year and trolled gar is one of the most common methods. I also like to use metal slices as this can quite often instigate a bite from them when the current dies and traditional trolling methods slow down.

Also, remember that they have a bag limit of 3 per angler and steer clear of the real big specimens as some can be riddled with ciguatera and that is one thing I would wish upon no one.

October is without a doubt the most popular month for barra as they come out of their winter slumber and get active moving among the mangrove systems once again. The barra will be ducking for cover as anglers come out of the woodwork to target this great Aussie icon. The gutters and drains are sure to get a good work over with lures and plastics during the run-out tides. Try using shallow minnows and soft plastics around dirty water lines too, as that can be rather rewarding as sometimes it is possible to sight-cast larger specimens in these areas.

Most barra fishing is done in shallow water when the waters are warm. The same applies to most of North Queenslands estuaries.

Deep water jigging is more of a wintertime practice as is deep trolling. You can still troll this time of year but look to get your lures a lot higher in the water column as that is where the fish are. If you concentrate on what your sounder is telling you and you adjust your angling habits to suit, then you might become a much better barra fisher. Alternatively, you can sign up for our online masterclass ‘Barra Basics’ and get 30 years of my trade secrets to boost your barra fishing skills beyond belief.

I hope you all have a great end to the barra season and if you would like to join next February’s intake, go to www.barrabasics.com and get all the info there.

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