THE WINTER-DWELLING tourists are leaving, the northwesterlies are rolling into Karumba every afternoon and there are a few clouds about in the morning over the Gulf – all signalling that the return of the warmer months isn’t far away. With that comes the Rugby League finals (go the Cowboys!), and it’s also time to dig out the Tilsans, Scorpions and other barra lures in anticipation for some good lurefishing sessions.
If you’re thinking of visiting the Gulf you’d better hurry as the closed season for barramundi begins at midday on October 7. This is different from the East Coast closed season, which starts on November 1, but they both finish at the same time – midday on February 1. The minimum size limit in the Gulf is 60cm.
As usual, it’s time to look at the how to and what to do of barra fishing, along with what to bring and leave at home and what to order for Christmas. The following information comes from spending the last decade chasing barra, so use it if you wish or make up your own mind.
What is the best lure for barramundi? It’s the lure that’s in the photograph with the barra you caught, of course!
Despite all the marketing and crap you hear and read there is no ‘best lure’ for barra or any other fish. Different lures work better in different situations You just make a decision on lure choice given the present conditions and then fish confidently with it.
Most of us always go for our favourite lure first. That’s all right because we will use it with confidence, however, don’t get tunnel vision and refuse to try something different if the conditions don’t suit the lure.
For what it’s worth, the top drawer in many tackle boxes up here are full of Gold Halco Scorpions, Tilsans and, for the shallower applications, Spearheads and gold Bombers. Prawnstars have no rival for jigging the deeper holes and around the base of deeper snags. For the deeper trolling applications, 5m Scorpions, Mann’s 20s, and River Rats 20+ lures are the pick.
Livebait is best bait. Barramundi will eat almost anything live, whether it’s mullet, prawns, bony bream or herring. It doesn’t matter in what order.
Barra sometimes get caught on strip baits or frozen prawns. This is the exception rather than the rule but it does happen. The great barra slaughter of last year by the visiting public all started when someone caught a barra over a metre on a bait meant for grunter.
Baitcasting outfits with 30lb braided line are the preferred weapon of most barra anglers for lure casting and trolling. Once you have used braided line you won’t be able to return to mono. It’s just not the same.
Be careful when loading up the old baitcaster rod you have owned for years with any of the newer braided lines. The old type runners won’t hack the stress and those older type rods just weren’t designed for being locked up to this sort of line. You can do all the same tricks with a quality threadline outfit. It’s a matter of preference or skill level.
Also learn the correct knots for the braided lines. Normally a bimini twist in the braided line then connected to a section of 40lb or 60lb leader material via an Albright knot will be all you need to master.
Some say you should also connect the lure to the leader only via a loop knot and not to use clips. Well, that’s OK if you don’t mind forking out money for Jinkai or other such material all the time. Good quality clips like Coastlock Snaps are fine and for the most part they don’t fail. Turn the end over with pliers if you like, but they certainly make it easy to change lures quickly.
Wind-on leaders also work well and take the Albright out of the equation, with only the bimini or double producing substitute needed.
On the local scene over the last month things haven’t changed much. The poor old blue salmon turned up on cue in August and have been the mainstay of the catch as they congregate on the flats to breed. With them came the grey-haired assailants with up to 100-plus boats out on the flats doing the northern version of winter whiting fishing.
The grunter still haven’t really come in close and schooled up, with just the odd big fish turning up. Maybe they woke up to the tourists. These fish made their run last year after most visitors had gone home in September and October.
There is still only a smattering of Spanish mackerel left, with the occasional one coming to the cleaning tables. Doggie mackerel are also still around at present but most only just make the 50cm legal mark.
Threadfin salmon should start to school up around Karumba as the water temp rises. In past years they have arrived around September but were a little later last year.
This month’s Idiot Award goes to the clown who decided to take the law into his own hands and direct the traffic at the point boat ramp. Not only did it result in an episode of ramp rage and near court action, it also resulted in more bedlam than usual. The point boat ramp beach is dangerous enough if you are just wanting to sit on the beach because hardly anybody is patient enough to wait for the ramp, preferring to launch off the beach. Throw in some non-existent reversing skills and you have a circus for free.
See you after the wet.
1) Even when the water is still a little cool, barra can't knock back a free prawn(star).Reads: 790