Think Big for Barra
  |  First Published: October 2008

The warming water temperature will turn barramundi from sullen, reclusive fish, into the ambush predators from hell. And with any luck, spring will yield some stable, warm to hot weather, making October perfect for some prime barramundi fishing.

High tides late in the afternoon will begin to fish well as good fish move into shallow water. So long as those persistent trade winds coupled up with an on shore afternoon breeze doesn’t muck things up too much.

It is also a great time to visit some of the more secret stretches of river, wetlands and lagoons. Most of the water from the surrounding wet countryside has subsided by now and birds, such as brolga and magpie geese, will black out the sky as they travel from one water source to another. Therefore fish will no longer have the opportunity to travel and they make up for it by eating whatever they can find.

Some of the small lagoons will become a little stagnant, choked by weeds and growth, so it is only the medium to large pools that will hold good populations of barramundi and saratoga. Walking the top and bottom ends of such lagoons around dawn and dusk is the most productive. Fizzers, poppers, shallow divers and frog imitations are all popular methods for switching on surface feeding fish.

There is something purely addictive about watching barramundi swallow your offering on the surface. There are thousands of subtle variations on the way barra choose to ambush prey on the surface. However the most exhilarating is when a big barramundi boofs and breaks the surface at the same time. The implosion of all that water into the cavernous mouth of a barra, suddenly followed by an explosion of fish out of the water, never fails to leave an angler jelly-kneed.

A barra living in fairly still water will often approach a surface lure from underneath. The right tweak and dance given to the lure at this crucial stage will decide if and how savagely a barra attacks it. Only experience can let an angler know which variation on a retrieve to use when they know a fish is present. Often barramundi that fail to strike on the first retrieve might need coaxing from numerous other casts until the annoyance trigger is pulled. There seems to be a limit on how many times a barra can resist something twitching past their nose.

It goes without saying that almost anywhere barramundi can get, saltwater crocodiles can too. Always be wary when landing barra from the bank. Use good strong leader capable of dragging a kicking fish up to safety. When walking along riverbanks entangled by vines and fallen timber, it also pays to brake for snakes.

Good fish will often entangle you around nearby timber and other structure when fishing from the bank. Instead of diving in to retrieve the fish or snapping it off, be patient as bigger barra often swim out of structure eventually. If possible, try and release all the bigger barra as these are the fish that ensure future numbers.

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