AT THE time of writing it appears we’re in for a typical wet season, with rainfalls being generous thus far. The opening of the barra season on February 1 may just be a little corker.
At the start of a barra opening some people make a mad rush, racing to land their limit of five fish in pit stop time. Everyone watches everyone else and at the first hint of a barra the hordes are onto it! The following are a few tips and techniques which may just put you ahead of the pack. If we get some serious rain this month (and we should), begin your fishing two to four days after it clears.
Fish locations which have:
• Rocky areas on the waterline, which include some boat ramps, road walls lined with rocks, causeways, water breaks, harbours and headlands;
• Small feeder creeks from beaches and from within a creek or river system
• After a good rain, fish weed beds and newly fallen mangroves which will shift downstream. Look for these congregations of relocated matter which tend to shift and jag into the corners of river bends, feeder creeks and river entrances;
• Mangrove lined flats (a haven for the smaller barra); and
• Big snags lined along a river bank
What to use:
• Live bait including prawns, sardines, herring, garfish and mullet
• smaller 3-4in lures, deep or shallow depending on the water level
• the new range of soft plastics available on the market, especially with a vibrant tail action
• Big and small poppers, thrown continuously in the one spot. It may take up to 30 casts at times. Quick, short, big movements of the popper and letting it idle for a moment before repeating is best. Minimise your boat noise when approaching a location but don't be scared to create a bit of noise on the surface once you’re settled in position. Barra are renowned for reacting to their own 'boofing' feeding on the surface, so create a similar ‘kerplunk’ which can create a signal to feed.
If your fishing partner is using poppers they often won’t connect in the first instance if they strike, but if you can trail a prawn imitation lure or a smaller lure some 3-4m behind the popper, the first barra or others in the vicinity will engulf it immediately. It works a treat at feeder creeks after a run-off of rain.
• If you’re flyfishing just after a wet period use the Dahlberg or 3-D versions of flies, which push a lot of water. Keep the movements short but powerful with a pause.
I’ve experienced some awesome action in deep holes, bigger eddies and creek/harbour situations on the initial first run in of the tide or last 15 minutes of the tide when it fills. However, the best general rule to is to fish the outgoing tide with the locations I have mentioned at the start of the article. Rivers, estuaries and mangrove walls fish best for the first hour on the turn, and the rocks and headlands fish best closer to the bottom of the tide.
When the season starts please release the smaller and bigger barra and only keep the ‘steel bucket mouths’ between 60-80cm. They are your best chew.
1) A handsome barra taken on fly on a private wharf.Reads: 501