Weeding out barra
  |  First Published: December 2008

Barra fishing at Lake Monduran is tough at the best of times but with large growths of weed infesting the dam at the moment fishing is becoming even trickier. But I have recently learnt some new techniques on how to target fish in the weed, which is essential if you want to consistently catch barramundi

While fishing the ABT at Awoonga recently, I picked up some great tips from watching the Taylor brothers and from talking to some of the bass anglers.

The Taylor brothers are dominating the tournament scene and are at the cutting edge with technology in fishing techniques. These guys spend a lot of time on the dam and are consistent ABT winners. From watching them fish at Awoonga, I was amazed at how easily they extracted barra from heavily weeded areas and realised quickly that I need to learn this style of fishing.

After talking around the traps I found the bass fisherman had the best handle on fishing the weeds. I learnt of a few new weedless rigs that have turned my fishing upside down and have opened up a lot of new areas to fish. Those of you who are barra anglers and are used to fishing points, bays and trees might not realise, but the weed is actually home to the barra, and when they seemingly shut down, the weed is where you will find them.

When the conditions make fishing tough you can almost guarantee the barra will be in the weed. This winter I caught more fish in the cold weather than any year before and they were all right up against the edge or in the weed. These fish will not always be keen to bite but you can entice some into a reaction bite. Like a cat chasing a ball of sting across the ground, a barra will instinctively bite some thing that looks like a moving fish in their face.


The recent increase in fishing soft plastic lures has opened up many new techniques and increased barra catch rates. Two of the best soft plastics are Berkley Hollow Bellies and Shimano Pro Range Slick Rigs. Both lures work effectively, but each works better in different situations. The Hollow Bellies are natural looking bait and work well in most conditions. While they don’t perform as well in the weeds, they do have more beats of the tails at slower speed than the Slick Rigs.

The Shimano Slick Rig performs well too and can be enhanced to work better at slower speeds by trimming the tails. The pointed end of the Slick Rig is great for weedless operation giving a cutting edge for working through the weed.

Weedless operation can be achieved by using Gamagatsu worm hooks in the 5/0 to 8/0 sizes depending on the lure size. You can use the ones with the barrel sinker on the shaft or add your own split shot to the lures without hooks. I find the best way to rig them is to run a cone shaped hook on your main line in front of the lure hook, so this drags through some of the hardest weed. This technique works well with both Berkelys and Slick Rigs.

Sometimes you will find soft plastics such as Hard Nose or Shadulicious work as good, if not better, than the major brands. The Shadulicious lures seem to have more beats per crank than other softies; the down side is they are hard to buy in tackle stores.

Those of you that have tried the Hollow Bellies and found that they are too soft should give the new hooks and weights that Berkley have released to use with their Hollow Bellies a try. These hooks make the lure more superior and increase its longevity, as the lure tends to tear easily with other hook types. The downside to these weights is they can be very pricey in some tackle stores and only come in packs of three.

My favourite soft plastic is the 100mm Shadulicios, with the Berkley Hollow Bellies a close second. The Slick Rigs are effective fish catchers and are definitely the best value for money.

These lures come in two main sizes the 130mm and 110mm. The smaller ones are great weedless and when the fishing is tough you can usually extract a bite with smaller bait.

The obvious idea is to have all these lures available to you and try them in every situation, then you can make your own informed decision.

Based on last years efforts on Lake Monduran trolling will be big in the basin. The fish seem to congregate in the basin in the warmer months and love to hit hard body lures. Go to lures include Halco Laser Pro, Rapala, Tropic Angler, RMG Scorpion, the Judge and any lure that swims to about 1.5m deep. You don’t need deep divers in the main basin, as most of the fish will hit lures near the surface.

For the casting fraternity the areas will change a lot from last year due to water depth. But B area is still one of the most prolific spots to catch fish. The most effective lures to use are the soft plastics Hollow Bellies, Slick Rigs, or the new Bozo type lures. Hard bodies will work great too; try the Tropic Angler Floater in ghost, B52, Judge, Barra Classic, Rapala, Halco Laser Pro, and RMG Scorpion – the list is endless.

All you have to do is run the lure past the nose of a barra and you’re hooked.

Hervey Bay Tournament

I was fortunate enough to fish in the annual Hervey Bay Boat Club tournament this year. The fishing was great with lots of micro black marlin and sailfish around. The deep water canyons produced blue and blacks ranging from 100-300kg.

The fish were concentrated around the 13 mile crossing in one bait-ball that had been in the same position for over two weeks. The fishing started off great with 21 fish being tagged before 10.15am on the first day. Our boat hooked up straight away with a double hook up on sails, we missed one but pinned the other.

For the tournament there was a total of 331 strikes, 250 hook-ups and 136 fish tagged, which was a fairly ordinary completion rate on tagging. With over 25 boats fishing the tournament there were 63 billfish, 10 sailfish, one blue marlin, 52 black marlin and 73 other species tagged.

The champion boat over 7.5m was the Watch Tower with yours truly as the skipper, Jari Sannholm as the deckie and Tommy Wood, Greg Smith, Dion White and Terry McCann making up the anglers. We did well and took home a few trophies, including Greg Smith for the prize of First Billfish Tagged, Dion White for Champion Heavy Tackle Angler, and Champion Billfish Team.

The prize for Champion Junior Angler and Champion Hervey Bay Angler was taken out by James Rosman, who fished with his sister and father.

Champion Light Tackle Angler was Glen Klein who fished on local charter boat KJ. Sarah Postan on the Black Watch Midnight Blue was named Champion Female Angler.

Kevin Charteris on White Horse Two won the small boat category of the tournament.

The fishing for the tournament was great over the shelf, where we managed to tag one blue after hooking a total of five heavy tackle fish over the day. One of the boats, Trophy skippered by Steve Morley, was fishing close by and also hooked up into some big blues.

It was a very memorable day for the team on the Watch Tower as we pulled in a 150kg blue backwards after fighting it 20 minutes. The fish had tail wrapped itself, so in an effort to save the blue monster we reversed up on it some 400m back. We tagged it and Dion White jumped in the water to untie the tail wrapped blue marlin and courageously swam the fish back to the boat where we towed the fish around for another 20 minutes to try to successfully revive it. It was a great feeling for all the crew when the fish swam off into the abyss some 1000m deep.

The fishing offshore will continue to be great in the months ahead with small marlin moving into the bay on their annual migration south starting in the Coral Sea stopping off at Cairns, Townsville, the Whitsundays, Fraser Island, the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast, Coffs Harbour, South West Rocks, Port Stephens, Sydney and Bermagui.

Looks like we’re in for a great year of fishing offshore and in the impoundments.

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