When the ski boats and jets skis are loaded back onto their trailers and the sun starts to sink in the sky, a new high powered and lethally streamlined creature begins to stir amongst the waters of Kinchant Dam – the mighty barramundi.
Kinchant has long been heralded as a place of ‘water sports and catfish’ but over the last few years there have been whispers of the night-time bite that is truly ballistic.
I first heard tales of huge nocturnal barra about 18 months ago when rumours started to drift in of meter plus fish. The rumours began to grow in intensity and tales of multiple fish well over the meter mark were becoming a regular occurrence. What caught my attention was the size of these fish, as reports seemed to range from about 103cm to 130cm with nothing under the meter being reported.
After a brief investigation, I found out that Kinchant Dam hadn’t been fish stocked in a few years and all its resident barra were old females. It turns out that these old girls hadn’t been subjected to the kind of heavy fishing that those in the more well-known big fish impoundments had been. This meant that they were big, bad and hungry.
With no more hesitation I finally decided to check out these monsters myself and hit the dam at night with a good mate, Shane.
We arrived at Kinchant around midnight and the conditions were perfect for nocturnal barra fishing – a beautiful full moon and very few clouds.
We started our assault by trolling Barra Classics, Sandvipers and B52’s along the weed edges near the ramp. Shane informed me that this had produced several fish well over the meter mark on his last trip. That night, however, we were left disappointed.
Launching into ‘Plan B’ we started hurling B52’s at weedy bays on the western side of the dam. By this stage it was 2am in the morning and I was feeling the sleep deprivation starting to bite. Tempers were beginning to fray and my suggestions about heading for home were becoming more direct and to the point.
Just as I had given up all hope, we drifted into a bay that had boney bream breaking the surface in the moonlight. This was the first serious bait we’d seen and there was some mild yet nervous excitement in the air. In the space of about a minute there were no less then four aquatic explosions, it sounded like a tiger shark had just engulfed a pelican. From that moment on madness ensued.
Shane’s Big Silver B52 was engulfed by a massive barra that smashed his lure out of the shallows and into the air, sending the B52 rocketing over our heads as the freight train of a fish shook it loose. I looked at Shane in shock and commented on the sheer size of the fish, “that’s one of the smaller ones,” was his reply.
Shane proceeded to drop another three fish (all while airborne) and landed one at 106cm. By this time I was becoming frustrated and wanted a part of the action. Not letting my pride get in the way I decided to do the smart thing and copy Shane. I upgraded from a standard B52 into a larger one.
After the change of lure, the results were immediate and explosive. No sooner had the larger lure hit the bay then a horse of a fish pounded it into the air. Call it beginners luck but the lure held in place and this monster began smoking my Calcutta 100. Due to Kinchant’s lack of trees, the big girl ran out great swaths of line but to no avail. Eventually she tired and was expertly netted by Shane. She measured in at 103cm and we took a few snap shots before returned her to the deep.
I was in a jelly-like state of euphoria. Who needs drugs when you can catch big barramundi? We both then landed another fish each and dropped as many as a dozen more. To this day I have never seen a more explosive feeding frenzy.
With the water warming up again this year the barra at Kinchant are feeding as ferociously as ever. This summer also has the added bonus of some smaller fish being stocked this year due to an increase in fishing potential.
There are several known and reliable techniques and strategies that have produced good numbers of trophy fish throughout the dam.
The most consistent way of catching a big Kinchant barra is on the troll. Use medium to shallow diving hardbodied lures and troll slowly along the dam wall. Stay at around the 3m mark and try to pick the drop-off on your sounder.
The most productive lures have been Sandvipers, 3m RMG Scorpions and 3m Lazar Pros. Use a slow troll with a slow jerking action. A sure fire technique involves letting your rod tip drop back (creating slack line) then sharply jigging the rod forward three times as you troll. This same technique also works while trolling along the weed edges with large 1m diving lures like Scorpions and B52s.
For those anglers who prefer a more proactive approach, casting can provide exciting results. The keys to success are water temperature and bait location.
If you can find a small weedy bay that is a degree or two warmer and has a thick boney bream population, then thrash the water to foam because the big barra won’t be far away!
Big hardbodied lures seem to be the weapons of choice and once again the Big B52 deserves a mention. An insider tip that has worked well is to carefully heat up and bend the bib of the larger RMG up. This creates a large shallow lure with an irresistible wobble, however, be warned that this does take some trial and error.
If the barra are boofing on the surface big Tango Dancers, Skitterpops and Fizzers are an exciting weapon when pulled across weed edges. Remember to work any surface lures slowly as you are trying to imitate something wounded. Letting the ripples subside after each twitch will guarantee a lethal action.
It is important to remember that loud is not always better. Overly loud splashes or clunky rattles can often ruin a good bite. Natural and realistic always out fishes loud and obtrusive.
Many people think you have to have a boat to catch a big Kinchant barra, but it is simple not true. There have been numerous trophy fish caught while casting just near the boat ramp so there is no excuse for not having a go.
Good luck and I hope to see you on the water one night. – Lee BrakeReads: 1303