I RECENTLY got a phone call at Quay Marine from a Brisbane guy who wanted a quote on the 5.5 Savage Cobia tested in QFM. Soon enough we got talking fishing, and he told me he’d spent a week at Tinaroo without a scale. Bought all the right lures, had the magic braid, you-beaut baitcaster outfit, the whole shooting match – yet nothing!
Now read on! I'm going to give you a spiel on Tinaroo and include something here for people who haven't got billabong/impoundment barras wired yet.
The lake has been very low this year, and this has seen the disappearance of lily lines. There used to be duckweed in thick matting underneath the lily beds, and this supported mouth almighty, which are the best live bait. This duck weed also supported all the other small forage fish. But now, because this habitat has gone, bony bream make up a huge part of the barra's feeding list. Bony bream have the ability to feed along muddy open shorelines in 1m of water without weedbeds, and definitely away from snags, in big open bays with mud. Am I painting a picture for after dark?
Now, when you live in the tropics you learn that barra start to stir just as the sun goes down over the range – behaviour shared by most of nature. Sit on your back doorstep just on dark and you’ll hear the frogs come out from the gutters, and the curlews, owls, bats and even canetoads all venture out at night. And how many freshwater crocs do you see during the day compared to the red ‘stop lights’ that you see on a waterhole at night when you shine the Dolphin around?
So when you come off the dam at 4pm, scratching your head because you’ve trolled all day and are fishless, I'm sorry to say but you’ve just gone in the opposite direction to nature!
The important points to remember are to watch for shags and pelicans feeding in a back bay that indicates bait is present. Look at where the birds are rounding up the bait (they're all in that shallow edge – exactly the same spot you'll be fishing tonight!). Look for lots of snags, cover, and especially clear water – this equals visibility. If a bay is shallow and dirty because of exposure to a southeasterly, give yourself plenty of time to organise yourself before dark. It’s hard for a first timer but have absolute faith in what you’re doing. Stay committed to your plan and keep casting!
Double anchor parallel to a bank dropping from 1m to 3m in depth, adjacent to a snag-riddled bay. Anchor far enough away so that when you're connected you won't be in trouble.
Use a slow sink retrieve. Start off with the rod tip high if you’re in a boat casting towards the bank, and lower as you finish your retrieve in a slow action with stops and starts, ensuring plenty of rod movement. When a hit comes, always keep tight on a fish and keep that pressure on. So many fish are lost from momentarily loose lines. If you're fishing from the bank (don't laugh – we’ve been having great success standing knee-deep in the shallows working chrome lures in the moonlight, dead slow), reverse your retrieve starting with the rod tip down and raise it as you finish.
Word has it that lots of fish have been hooked and lost on surface baits, – especially Bill's Bugs – at night. Barramundi have always been suckers for surface baits in the dead of night, though somehow it's turned into another exciting new innovation. Maybe it’s replacing the soft plastic hype that landed in Cairns late last year, which already seems to have fallen flat on its face.
If the advice in this article works for you, great. That's what Tinaroo is all about, regardless of biased saltwater/impoundment barramundi conversation. When you crouch down and cradle a metre of silver you just caught in a metre of water in the dead of night, it's good! It's all good!
And if my advice does help you to catch a fish, let me know!
1) Warren Lindsay with his 1.08m fish caught on a chrome 8” Barra Bait.
2) Warren Adams with a 1m barra caught off the bank at Tinaroo.Reads: 1921