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Aye-Karumba! Barra beach fishing at its Best
  |  First Published: November 2007




Karumba is often touted as the grunter capital of the world by lure, fly and bait fishers alike. Grunter fishing is great for those who like the idea of soaking squid, and if it is barra you crave then Karumba also has plenty in store for you.

Lure fishing for barra on a secluded beach is what all fishers can daydream over. The thought of sand between your toes and barramundi jumping all over the ocean is appealing to all. Catching fish from a beach where there is little chance of being busted-up in snags, allows for a nice clean battle – completely enjoyable.

Where to start

The most obviously starting point is at that the beach – but not just any beach. Barra around Karumba love hanging around the mouths of rivers and creeks looking for action and a bite to eat.

For successful barra fishing on the beach there must be a steady food supply in shallow water. Most of the thriving beach spots in and around Karumba are on the rising tide when the food is channelled into the main river along a beach gutter. The gutters don’t need to be deep, as mullet and whiting only need centimetres of water to move on the incoming tide. It is important that the end of the gutter has an area from where the predators can ambush. There are no snags or rocks so the only camouflage for a predator barra must come from discoloured water or a deep edge.

How to go about it

The next part of the beach fishing equation is tidal changes. The beaches in the region fish well on the incoming tides. This is because the bait is moved by the current along the beach and into the river or creek.

The sand bar will produce on the run-out tide if there is a deeper section left on the bottom. This leave’s nowhere for the bait to congregate as the tide drops away.

As the tide rises and the water starts to trickle in and around the point of the beach, it’s time to start casting. Begin by working the deeper edge first as the barra will know that the tide is rising. At times there might only be the slightest run and not looking appealing to the angler, but the fish will know and hole-up 20-30m off the drop. A deep diving lure or a jig like a Prawnstar is a valuable tool and allows for some bottom research as the tide begins to flow.

As the tide begins to push harder around the point of the beach then the fish will move up right onto the edge of the channel, especially if it is dirty water. Barra will sit right on the edge and await their rewards for such bravery. Mullet, whiting and prawns drift along the shallow channel on the migration up the beach without the knowledge that a deeper edge is just in front of them.

Once there is enough water to comfortably and safely cruise into the shallow gutter the barra and salmon move in. If the tide is fairly strong then sometimes a pressure wave presents itself as the two tidal forces meet. This discolours the water and is a favourite place for the predators as eddies are created giving them a free parking space with little current and disorientating the poor old food item.

Tackle

Normal baitcasting rules apply, but it should be of good quality. Some other demons lurk in the same area and a good quality outfit with plenty of line may allow them to be chased in the boat and captured. Light threadline outfits are also fun to use – just pretend barra are just like big whiting that jump.

Braided line is a favourite for the extra sensitivity it gives. With a sea breeze, our favourite beach spots get a bit lumpy and almost surf like. Braided line even with a bit of a belly in it makes it easier to set the hooks then mono. Bionic Braid with its pink colour gives the added benefit of extra visibility.

Fly gear is great on the beach. There are usually no hindrances, except maybe the wind, so a 10# outfit helps get the fly out to the necessary distance. A casting basket is also handy as the fly line doesn’t end up drifting away making casting difficult and frustrating.

The selection of lures may be the most important part of the equation. Gold bombers are the mainstay of this game – everything will eat it. The fluoro green bomber is also special and seems to out-do the gold bomber from time to time if the water is a little murky. The 90mm Scorpions and Tilsan Barras are a good lure if the edge is a bit deeper.

Prawnstars are unbeatable at the start of the tide in a deep hole and along the edge. Even with the tide higher they work as they bounce along the bottom. The Prawnstars do extremely well as prawns are a major dietary intake for the estuary predators as they migrate up and down the beach.

Fly selection is simple – pink thing first, middle and last. At the beginning of the day tie one on and you will catch fish. There is probably other fly patterns that will work equally as well but I can’t tell you what they are as the old pinkie has never let me down – never change a winning formula.

Other species

Barramundi are the main target species off the beach. All of his usual mates can make an appearance with the most common gang members being the king and blue salmon, queenfish and fingermark. As mentioned above, even demons like big GT join in on the act just to spice things up.

When to go

In our neck of the woods, straight after the wet is the time to start looking for a beach scene. Anytime from February to April depending on the size and length of the wet. The end of the year would no doubt be good but our seasonal northwesterly winds put an end to too much travel up and down the coast. If you are fortunate enough to have vehicle access to the northern areas of the bottom of the Gulf, and the rain hasn’t started, you are in for a show.

Smaller tides are the go at any time. However, as the weather cools at the end of April and into early May the bigger tides seem to keep the barra clan in the mood. The smaller tides early in the year are still pretty big and it is a major consideration before attacking the beach. The bigger tides can still be fished by anchoring the boat in the beach gutter and fishing back into the pressure wave but this certainly doesn’t get the sand between you toes.

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