Let’s forget about everything else just for a moment and catch the fish on everybody’s lips. The season for recreational anglers to catch and keep a barra is upon us. The barra have had a break from anglers, with a chance to spread out as floodwaters invade their haunts.
So long as most of the heavy rains are over, March will be a month of consolidation for barramundi. The swollen rivers and turbid coastline may begin to settle down a bit, providing many barra with their final chance to reach those out of the way places.
Places like lagoons, marshes, salt pans, backwaters, pools and stricken pieces of creek and river, separate from the main system until next year. It is these locations where barramundi show their true merit as a sports fish. They occupy just about every available type of habitat from inshore waters to the tiniest of lagoons. Barra can be found from rock bar to reef, to rapid, to paperbark root and back to mangrove shoots.
The fact that barramundi can live just about anywhere in the far north helps provide the fish with an unparalleled demeanour. Barra just live to eat and basically anything smaller than them living in their vicinity better watch out. In the right mood, barra would attack your wristwatch if you threw it close enough.
Chuck a frog imitation out around some lily pads, close to the downstream section of any prominent pools. Use the frog imitation for the hour before dark and switch to fizzers or poppers as darkness draws near. A barra can only watch something small swimming above their noses for so long. Invariably, with enough persistence, a hole will open up in the water where your lure just was.
Just every now and then a really big hole will open up, followed by over a meter of chrome-plated barramundi. Eyes gleaming, big bucket mouth open, shoulders out of the water before a big paddle tail pushes its enormous bulk skyward. Fishermen who have seen it will never tire of this sight.
If the water is still too dirty in your neck of the woods or if this wet season really drags on, March may still be a difficult time to fish. Around Archer Bay, we will most likely be spending quite a bit of time in cleaner tidal parts of the river, looking for aggregations of fish. Mixing lures up between surface, shallow and crazy deep, no little out of the way place ignored.
Barra are brilliant at detecting vibration and the movement of water. Lures that push quite a lot of water and rattle often have a higher chance of being eaten in dirty conditions. March is a when your lure box will need to hold an assortment of shapes and colours.
Once fish are located in a certain area on a certain tide, make a note of it and try similar areas with similar features during that same period. It is in the nature of a barramundi to lie in ambush for a hapless baitfish or easy meal, nose into a gentle current just out of the main flow.
How far a barra will travel to smash your offering will be dictated by a few factors. Including how well fed that fish is, what time of day it is, what the tide is doing, what phase of the moon we are in and of coarse by the very nature of that individual fish. Catching those fish that didn’t really want to eat, is one of the best challenges an angler can give themselves.Reads: 692