The local scene hasn’t changed much over the last month. Blue salmon have been a mainstay, congregating on the flats to breed. One surprise was a run of big king salmon up the river, which became the target of hundreds of 12-foot tinnies, methodically trolling up and back until there was nothing left. Interestingly, they caught a few barra as well.
The water temperature has not dropped under 20 degrees at any time this year, in stark contrast to last year when it bottomed out at 15 degrees in July.
The grunter still haven’t really come in close and schooled up, with only the odd big fish turning up. Anglers travelling a bit further offshore have occasionally been catching big grunter but no one seems to have pulled more than one or two a trip.
There is still a smattering of Spanish mackerel left with the occasional one coming to the cleaning tables. If you can find a nice patch of bottom on the clear run-in tidal flow, the Spaniards will be accommodating. Throwing silver slugs on light threadline gear can be a buzz.
Doggy (school) mackerel are also still around at present but most only just make the 50cm legal mark. You can tell when they drop off because there is less Styrofoam (cheapskate mackerel float) littering the beach.
Here is a brief overview of what you should bring if you are up here chasing barra in the Gulf. This is not a comprehensive must-have list but all this stuff works well for me in the Gulf.
Forget the packet that says it is the best for barra – there is no such beast. The old saying ‘yesterday’s success is tomorrow’s failure’ was created by a barra fisherman. Different lures work better in different situations. Most of us always go for the favourite lure first, which is okay as long as you don’t get tunnel vision and refuse to try something different if the conditions don’t suit the lure.
Some of the first choices up here are Halco Scorpions, Tilsans and Barra Classics and Prawn Stars for casting, while for deeper trolling sessions, Deep Diving Scorpions, Mann’s 20s, Big Barra Classics and River Rats work well. Of course, the next barra caught on a Barramundi Mauler won’t be the last and don’t forget the soft plastics either.
Livebait is the best. Barra will eat almost anything live, including mullet, prawn, bony bream or herring (in any order). They’ll even eat small catfish if they’re in the right mood. The northern whiting we get in the gulf have no size limit but on the east coast whiting are regulated, so beware. Barra sometimes get caught on strip baits or frozen prawns, although this is the exception rather than the rule.
Baitcasting outfits with 30lb braided line are the preferred weapon for lure casting and trolling. However, you can do all the same tricks with a quality threadline outfit, so it’s really just a matter of preference. Do yourself a favour and learn the correct knots for the braided lines. Anglers generally use a bimini twist in the braided line, which is then connected to a section of 40 or 60lb leader material via an albright knot.
Some people say you should connect the lure to the leader only via a loop knot and should not to use clips. This is okay if you don’t mind forking out money for expensive leader material all the time, but in my opinion, good quality clips like Coastlock or Hawaiian Snaps are fine and for the most part don’t fail. Turn the end over with pliers if you like but they certainly make changing lures quickly an easy task.
So get out there and smash a few barra before the closed season. Let the big girls go because it’s coming up to breeding season and if you remove a big breeder, the system suffers.
So many anglers have been out on the troll and unfortunately there are always some greedy idiots amongst the genuine. An older man was recently seen late in the afternoon with a couple of big king salmon on the deck of his car topper. When he was asked why the fish were all dried up and starting to rot instead of in the esky, he stated that he didn’t even know what they were. I’m not sure why he was keeping them because they certainly weren’t fit for human consumption anymore.
It’s also shocking to see that some people are taking scissors onto their boat for the express purpose of trimming off the tail of a barramundi that are over the maximum limit of 120cm. Keeping a barra well in excess of the maximum legal limit to parade around the van park is just not on.
Barramundi Closed Season Dates
The end of this month marks the beginning of the closed season for barra in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The closed season is scheduled to begin at midday on or around the September 26 but has not yet been set in stone by the Department of Fisheries.Reads: 737