Cracker Floods Cracker Barra
  |  First Published: February 2009

What an awesome wet season we are having. The road from Normanton to Karumba has been mostly underwater for the last month and if the rain continues we will not be able to drive out for some time to come.

Our community is only small and our resources limited but with everyone helping we have been able to get in supplies and continue to enjoy a great lifestyle. I just would like to thank OZ Minerals, Croc & Crab Tours, Raptis, VMR, End of the Road Motel, MSQ, SES, Tremain-Hill Helicopters, all the other businesses that helped and all the people that gave up time to support our town. It was very disappointing not to see the department of fisheries out there helping as well.

I managed to travel up to Normanton on various occasions via the river and the amount of water across the flats averaged 4ft. Driving the boat was not without risk as the country is fenced and there are always tree stumps and logs to contend with. The route by river is 78km but you can shorten that considerably by cutting corners. Stranded wallabies and cattle appeared occasionally and were reported to the authorities. It was amazing to drive the boat right up to the edge of town at Normanton and tie up to a guidepost. Water levels had risen to where water was on the bridge on the Karumba side and we could just see the top of the shade shelter at the boat ramp.

All of this water has flushed out the rivers and means we will have another awesome year catching barramundi. March is usually prime time to target the big females as they look to put on some condition but with an extra large flood the situation may change. April may well find them firing and with our fishing competition on the 18-19 April we could see some records being broken.

To catch a big barra I recommend you use a baitcaster (or spinning outfit) spooled with 30lb Berkley Stren or equivalent tied to 1m of 60lb mono trace. You can use a snap or speed clip or tie a loop knot to attach the line to your favourite lure. Good lures to use up here are classics and Halco Scorpions. Gold coloured lures are always a good place to start, but various colours can be successful.

To find the barra, try to make sure your lure is in contact with the bottom at all times and be sure to hang on tight when the fish hit. Head your boat out to the middle of the river and put pressure on the fish to keep them away from structure. The really big fish usually stay down and don’t jump in the first few runs but power away like freight trains. Keep the rod tip down when fighting them to help stop them from jumping as every time they jump the lure can come loose and head in your direction.

Remember to always pull to the side when attempting to work the fish to the boat as lures travelling at speed can cause problems if heading directly at you. Don’t increase the drag when you have the fish near the boat and be patient with the net as these two things are two of the main reasons for losing fish.

Having the fish in the net you now need to get that all important photo before allowing her to swim away. Make sure to support the fish by placing your arm under her beside the anal cavity – never pick the fish up by the gills as this will kill her. Once you have it recorded please place her over the side and hold her upright while idling along to get some much needed oxygen back through her gills. She will start to move around and then hopefully swim away without any issues.

As the fresh water fades and is replaced by salt water golden snapper should be on offer out the front on bait and lures. But when travelling out the front at this time of year, please check the weather forecast as our cyclone season is not quite over yet. Always check with Normanton Police or RACQ before coming as we may still be cut off by floodwater.

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