A day in barradise
  |  First Published: May 2003

A FEW weeks back I visited a relatively new ‘pay as you go’ fishery less than three hours from Brisbane, off the road to Rainbow Beach. Shortly after I arrived I was astounded to hear the caretaker casually announce that ‘this is the best barra fishing in Australia!’, and a few hours later I decided he was right. He and his son have created one of the best barramundi fisheries in the country.

This place is essentially a stone fruit farm. Some years back the owners stocked their numerous dams (some over 30 acres in surface area) with barramundi and Australian bass fingerlings. They pushed though a false start or two and persevered, and the result is a farm stocked with thousands of barramundi that hit lures with gusto – and many of these willing fish are well over 10kg.

My third cast with a minnow lure was nailed by a barra of 3-4kg. I’d never found it this easy before! Nearby another astounded angler was tossing fizzers onto the surface of what was basically a medium-sized farm dam. On every retrieve the fizzer was bashed and bullied by the residents below. Every now and then a hookup resulted in a leaping, thrashing, frenzied fish that was released after a photo.

I plugged away and caught more and more barra, and eventually I was promoted to another pond where the fish were larger. My first cast was with a very large fizzer-style creation that was blasted off the surface only metres from my trembling legs. I panel-beated my fizzer back into shape and repeated the process, and over the next couple of hours I changed lures regularly and caught barramundi with each offering. Double and even triple hookups were the order of the day, and at that stage I started to wonder what might have been in the coffee that I consumed on the way there.

I was in the company of some pretty serious anglers, and they too were having a ball. Hard-bodied minnow and soft plastic type lures were the go in every dam we fished. Fizzers and poppers worked a treat pretty well everywhere too, and there were some spectacular surface takes. The crew from the Escape with ET show were there, and cameraman John Haenke filmed some astounding surface action.

The biggest body of water contains around 30,000 bass, as well as plenty of barra, and is best worked using the electric powered boats moored along the dam wall. Evening is a good time to work a fizzer through the lilies or a minnow or soft plastic along the drop-offs next to the weed beds.

Local embroidery tycoon ‘Fast Eddy’ Sweres has visited this exceptional fishery on several occasions. His last visit with his son Kris resulted in well over 100 fish, mostly from the main dam, over 30 of which were barra!

While this form of fishing isn’t quite the same as slowly drifting along a mangrove-lined creek and lobbing lures into the snags, it’s more productive and cheaper for us southerners, and a very good second best. If your budget doesn’t allow for extended trips to the Top End, a barra farm may be the answer.

Trips to this ‘Sunshine Coast Barra-Base’ are exclusive and totally guided. For more information contact guide Jed Hollis at Barra Jacks Noosa on (07) 5449 3666 or 0402 478 120.

1) Andrew Ettingshausen and Catherine Sewell with a quality barra from one of the ponds.

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