Huge Tinaroo Barra
  |  First Published: December 2002

THE WATER level keeps dropping and the fishing areas are changing a bit, but the frequency of large barra being captured in Lake Tinaroo is on the rise. The fish don’t have much water to spread out in and, with the continued hot and dry conditions, they’re in prime feeding mood.

How times have changed! I remember catching my first Tinaroo barra – a rat of 60cm – around 1987/88, and in those days it seemed like Mission Impossible to catch one of these mythical fish. Nowadays there are so many trophy-size fish being taken from the lake that 10-15kg barra don’t even rate a second look, and most people are too embarrassed to weigh-in a rat. The weigh-in scenes at the last few Barra Bashes confirm this fish feast, with only barra above 20kg attracting more than a glance from the well-conditioned audience.

This year’s Barra Bash coincided with the build-up to the full moon, backing up the common belief that more fish are taken during this period than at any other time of the moon phase. In fact, there were 53 barra weighed in for the tournament at an average weight of almost 15kg! This is an incredible average size for these fish.

I opted to fish the Kairi arm on the Saturday night. This proved to be a bad decision because this was when the Barron arm really fired up! Past winner Peter Atwell reported that close to 30 boats were working the arm on Saturday night, and at about 6.30pm the fish really came on with multiple hook-ups and captures being made “all over the place". Just about all of the trophy fish were taken in this well-known hot spot, with most (if not all) taken by trolling. Lures which were producing included Vipers, Barra Classics, Barra Baits and even trolled Bombers.

Meanwhile, over where I was, things went from quiet to very quiet and during the evening I didn’t see a fish boated by any of the eight or so boats working the Kairi arm. Earlier in the day there were actually a few barra taken in the Kairi arm from boats anchored up casting the edges and a small ledge just out from the bank. Around midnight I decided to call it quits so I anchored up the boat, rolled out my swag and slept on the water. Even though it was November in the tropics, it was freezing. I wore layers of clothing along with my sleeping bag, and slept under a tarp to keep off the heavy dew. The tablelands at night can be surprisingly cold, so be warned!

I woke at 5am on Sunday, determined to put in one final effort, and went off to the Barron arm to see what was happening.

The Barron arm was already a hive of activity when I arrived, with a bunch of boats working in the early morning gloom. However, it seemed that all the action had occurred the night before and I didn’t see a fish boated. I fished until 9am before deciding to try Severin arm before heading for the weigh-in. Alas, my luck did not improve!


Glenn Plaatzer from Innisfail picked up the Champion Barra prize with his 25.4kg cleaned fish (31.5kg whole). This was a terrific fish and was amongst a team catch of six fish. Glen trolled up this fish on an Orange Viper in the Barron Arm on Saturday night.

Glenn's fish only just shaded ahead of champion male Tim Hawkins from Malanda who also nailed his barra on Saturday night in the Barron arm. Tim's barra went 25kg cleaned (29kg whole) and was taken trolling an 8-inch Gold Bomber.

Champion Female went to novice barra fisho Jody Coldwell, who nailed a barra of 21.9kg cleaned (25.6kg whole). This barra was also trolled up in the Barron arm on Saturday afternoon. Matthew Skinner was awarded the Best Junior Capture, and Dave Powell won the Celebrity Challenge with his 12.4kg barra.

Congratulations to Glenda Johnson and her organising team for a very successful tournament!


Perseverance is one of the main ingredients for success in fishing Lake Tinaroo. There’s plenty of info out there on productive lures, time of day, time of year and so on, and the fish are being taken all over the lake, so the anglers who keep on keeping on are the ones who eventually reap the rewards.

One such young angler is Carl Schuster. Carl has been fishing many times on Tinaroo and has put in countless hours in pursuit of a big barra. Frustrated by catching no fish throughout the Barra Bash, Carl decided to have another go on Sunday night after the Bash fishos had left. The barra were obviously still on the bite, and that Sunday night, as he commenced his first trolling run in the Barron arm, he hadn’t gone far before he connected to his biggest barra ever. Carl said it was a tough fight, and there were some nervous moments before the landing net finally secured the big 20kg barra. Carl released it unharmed. Well done!

‘Til I get back from my overseas trip, happy fishing!

1) Glen Plaatzer (L) from Innisfail and Tim Hawkins from Malanda show their barra (25.kg and 25kg) which captured the major awards at the Tinaroo Barra Bash.

2) Carl Schuster proudly shows his superb 20kg barra from Lake Tinaroo.

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