Backpackin’ Barra!
  |  First Published: August 2008

We are now in the depths of winter and all those barra fishers out there will be a little sad at the prospect of not catching their most prized sportfish. However, all is not lost, with a little homework and a bit of hard work, you can still catch a barra or two. After all, they still have to eat!

There are many great systems along our central Queensland coast and winter can be a nice time to explore them. When chasing barra in this region during the cooler months look for pools in the upper reaches of a creek or river system. Areas that hold 1-2m of water are usually perfect, as this depth allows the water to warm quickly, which is important in getting an aggressive response from the fish.

Pools that hold bait are also always worth a try and if you find a pool that has some fresh water flowing into it then this can be very beneficial.

Last winter a mate and I decided we’d try our luck at catching some barra at one of our favourite Central Queensland creeks, so after the cool morning had left us we grabbed our backpacks and bait casters and headed off to our location.

Arriving at the creek at midday we parked the car and had a short hike of about 1km to the pool. Early winter had seen some good rainfall, and with recent spring tides, the pools along the upper reaches of the creek were holding large amounts of brackish water. And with little cloud cover, the sun had now hit the water warming up the pool.

On reaching the pool, which was about 40m long and 15m at its widest point, we stood and watched the fresh water cascading through the boulders pushing a slight colour change into the heart of the pool. Mullet were milling around the edges and on closer inspection we could even see tarpon rolling on the surface with one occasionally shimmering as the sun peered through the mangroves.

For lure selection, any floating or suspending deep diving lures in the 45-70mm range will work great. Small soft plastics and poppers are all good options. We worked our lures with a slow twitch pause retrieve, hoping to get that instinctive response from the barra.

We were standing on the northern side of the creek where it was flat, clear and shallow, gradually getting deeper to about 2-3m. The southern side was fairly straight faced with a line of mangroves overhanging the edge, their leaves teasing the top of the water. The shadow line at this edge was our target and after six or seven casts a silver flash swiped my C’ultiva minnow. With my pulse rate up a little, I made another cast to the same area and bang I was on.

Three minutes later after several acrobatic leaps and headshakes, I had a 65cm barra at my feet and it was a great relief to be holding him up for the camera. Several happy snaps later and the little salty was released back into the pool.

Things were quiet then for a while, but with barra only having a five-minute memory it wasn’t long before my mate’s Little Lucifer was inhaled by a healthy 68cm specimen.

Although not as energetic as my fish he was still good enough to steer my mate around the pool, leaving him a little lost for words as his 14lb leader was stretched to its limits. Three or four good runs and the little barra was done.

On reflection it was a great session, and being winter, very satisfying as well. So don’t give up chasing barra because it’s winter, just do some research, find the warmest part of the day and use the lightest line class that you dare.

Just remember, limit your catch don’t catch your limit! – Jarrod Dalton

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