Another good wet season has barra anglers, and farmers, jumping for joy. Floodwater run-off from the monsoonal trough has hopefully seen another successful breeding run for most northern species.
Dams are full, rivers and creeks are running and fish like barra are getting a chance to breed and repopulate billabongs and waterholes. Travelling anglers can expect to catch large numbers of rat barra late in year but in a few years we should see the return of the big barra north Queensland is famous for.
So how do we get amongst the action right now? Well, the easiest answer is to think like a fish.
Barramundi are a lazy fish so they will find the simplest way to breathe and feed without using too much energy. While this is true for all barra the smaller fish are looking to find a way upstream into a nice quite waterhole to grow into a large breeding female before heading down to the mouth to mate in a year or two. With this knowledge start looking for areas that have swirling eddies. These are areas that the water can slow and even turn around before joining the main flow of water again. Some of the best examples of this can be found at man-made structures like weirs, dam walls, bridges and roads.
Any weir or dam wall that is either manually stocked with fish or is the barrier between fresh and saltwater will be a hotspot when water is flowing over. If the water is roaring over, my advice is give it another couple of days or head downstream a little and find the first quiet backwater as they will be sitting just out of the flow waiting for the floodwater to steady up before trying to navigate further.
If the weir you’re fishing is impassable for fish then there will be great opportunities to nail a few fish as they will push right up to the base of the wall. The easiest access to structure like this is the Ross River weirs. There are three man-made walls for Townsville’s back up water supply that have been consistently stocked by the Twin Cities Fish Stocking Society.
Soft plastics in the 5-7” range are by far the better producers of big barra. Likewise, the good old Killalure barra bait and the Gold Bomber still have their place in the tackle box as they too see their fair share.
Bridges, or more precisely the pylons that hold them up, work similar to a snag in the creek by forcing the current to go around. This gives fish an easy place to conserve energy on their migration up the creek; fishing around the base of these pylons can yield some good fishing.
Roads that cross over salt flats or shallow crossings on riverbeds become highways for travelling barra during floods and many north Queensland roadside gutters are hot spots for land-based fishers. You may need a good deal of local knowledge to find the best of these spots. For non-locals, the best ways to gain this knowledge is to spend a few dollars in the local tackle store or shout a few beers in the local watering hole.
Alternatively, you could also just suck it and see; visit as many different areas as possible and spend a few hours throwing lures about to see what bites. The best example of this is the road out to the AIMS institute. Keep in mind that you cannot park along the side of the road, as it is a highway; so keep out of the way of traffic.
If the floodwater starts to slow then transfer the same principles into the creeks. Try and find the last of the floodwaters draining into the tops of the smaller estuaries. Areas like the top of Burrumbush Creek in the Haughton River or right up the top of Crocodile where Killymoon Creek joins on.
Another area that is well worth fishing is the run-off gutters that drain into creeks and rivers depositing all manner of life and nutrients. If there happens to be a colour change in the water, at or near this phenomenon expect the bigger predators like barra to be waiting for a free feed. My favourite lure in this instance is a D.O.A. prawn. You can sink it slowly to the base of the drain or work it at any depth you desire. Just about everything that swims will eat a prawn.
Hopefully next month the weather will have calmed down, the floodwaters steady up and the muddy waters start to clear so we can concentrate on catching the big oceanic saltwater barramundi that haunt all barra angler’s dreams.
So if you can’t get out there now start planning your next trip.Reads: 1358