Barra: Rain, hail or shine
  |  First Published: February 2009

Barra are back! It has been a while since I was this excited about barra season. This summer there seems to be good numbers of barra stacked up waiting for opening day on 1 February.

In the early New Year the weirs in the middle of town were not yet flowing over apart from a few halfhearted dribbles from storms. When the monsoon really gets going and excess freshwater is pumping over the weirs you can see some of the best land based barra action you will see on the east coast.

Anglers can expect to see almost shoulder to shoulder fishing around the bottom weir called Aplins Weir, as this is the last weir before the saltwater. Anglers would be wise to try the other two weirs as well, as both also offer great fishing. If you want to get a good idea about what’s working the best talk to some of the local tackle stores – they should be able to tell you what’s working right at that moment.

Another area that has been fishing well for land-based anglers has been Pallarenda. Extra large queenfish have been smashing live gar baits fished under small floats. The last few hours of a run in tide through to the first hour of the run out has been the most productive time for this headland.

If queenies are not your thing, try fishing squid or fresh mullet fillets on the bottom at Pallarenda for a feed of good sized grunter. Similar tides to the big queenies will put you in the hunt, but remember this is a yellow zone so you cannot fish for both at the same time.

For those of you blessed with a boat February should have you jumping with joy. If there is flooding, then Cockle and Bolger bays will hold good numbers of big barra. Another great option is to get over to Cape Cleveland and fish the shallow areas over there. Try shallow diving lures fished over rocks and mangroves. It is worth having a few non rattling shallow divers in your tackle box, as I have found in the harder fished areas that the fish can get shy on rattling lures and a good old timber job can switch them back on.

If the flooding rains are a no show, the usual suspects will provide plenty of fish. Rock bars like the one at the mouth of the Bohle River or even the ones up Doughboy Creek and the Haughton River will all hold fish at different parts of the tide. While live baiting using big fish baits should stop bream and other unwanted species attacking baits, the dedicated barra angler should have jumped on the lure trolling game by now. Anyone can blindly pull a lure down the creek but if you’re serious you should only be working the patches that are holding fish or are likely to hold fish.

Another thing you should come home with after a day’s trolling is a sore wrist. The same action you are trying to impart when lure casting, the stop, starting, jerky retrieve must also be imparted to improve your success rate, especially when your lure is roughly near where your sounder showed the structure and hopefully a few fish.

Some of the most successful lures around Townsville have been the Classic lure collection from Rob Gaden. Classic lures have a huge range of lures to cover all trolling applications. I have also been trialling a new lure soon to be released that is worth a mention as the man making them is one of Australia’s most respected fishing guides, Lance Butler. Hopefully these lures will find their way onto Townsville tackle store shelves before the opening of the barra season.

The Bluewater scene has been a bit hit and miss of late with some reefs firing while others fizzle. Keep in mind that with all the live trout boats working the close reefs sometimes you need to fish smart to catch a feed of reef fish. Try working the deeper bombies that would normally go unfished by the pros. This may take you precious time sounding around looking for a deep bombie or two but it will be worth the effort when you find these areas. And while you’re slowly motoring around looking why not drop a lure out the back for a mackerel or two to add variety to your catch.

Just so regular readers can keep up, my boat is now on the water and I am loving it.

On another note, I haven’t heard back yet from the Minister for Fisheries in relation to fingermark being targeted be commercial netters. So with the new inshore bag and size limits coming into effect from March the first and an election looming close it appears the protection of our fingermark fishery has been left on the cutting room floor, but I will still keep annoying them until I get an answer. Surely the smart state doesn’t want to be the idiot brother to NSW and the NT when it comes to fishery management.

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