Barramundi

"Barramundi (Barra) are an Australian fishing icon inhabiting northern waters in Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland."

This incredible fish is on every fisherman’s “to do” list. Not only do Barra look great and taste great, but they put up a great fight and often an acrobatic performance. Catching a Barra is a very satisfying experience and we can tell you the best time to catch Barramundi and where.

Barramundi can vary in colour from silver to green/grey depending on the water they are in. The saltwater Barra are the best eating (actually delicious) and these are more silver in appearance. Freshwater Barra are darker and have a muddy taste to them but are still immense fun to catch.

An interesting fact about Barramundi is that they are all born male. Most mature as males and can change sex only if in salt water and generally by around 90cm in length.

The legal sizes and bag limits differ slightly between states. Minimum size is 55cm in WA and NT, 58cm on QLD’s east coast and 60cm in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Some areas require catch and release at certain sizes. As maximum sizes vary across the board a good guide to follow would be to release any Barramundi over 80cm. These fish may be close to turning female and capable of producing millions of eggs each season and more Barramundi for future fishing.

Barramundi are strong, fighting fish and can definitely pose a challenge, especially the bigger fish. Suitable fishing tackle is important if you’re serious about pulling in one of these beauties. No light tackle will do the job. You’ll need a strong rod and reel (a sturdy overhead bait caster is the way to go), heavy line (6-10 kg), heavy duty hooks and leaders and sufficient drag on your reel as these fish like to take off.

The best time to catch a Barra is after the wet season (April-May) when there is plenty of run-off from the feeder creeks into the rivers, the water temperature is warmer, Barra food is abundant and the Barra are keen for a feeding frenzy. Use live bait or lures which resemble bait fish.

If you can catch live bait then go for it. You’ll need a cast net and may need to practise your throwing technique if you aren’t familiar with it, but we’ve found live bait to be most successful. Try for some Mullet in the shallows and secure the live bait on your hook carefully through the top of its tail. Remember you still want him swimming not floating. If you’re using livies make sure you have an aerator to keep them alive while you’re hard at it.

Both soft and hard plastic lures can also be used. The soft lures resemble small minnows and bait fish and the hard lures are similar to larger prey. There are so many different lures on the market these days and we certainly have a tackle box full of them, but some good ones to consider are Killalure, Scorpion and Nilsmaster. Invest in enough to cover a variety of depths and also Poppers and Fizzers for night or early morning fishing.

A common technique is trolling in a boat at low speed (around 3km / hour) so your lure is swimming nicely behind the boat. Another is casting out and reeling in continuously while occasionally jigging your rod slightly side to side to resemble an injured fish ready for the taking. If your fish is really fighting hard don’t get too excited as they have a soft mouth and might release the hook, and you might lose the fish of your life. Point your rod tip low towards the fish and give it the line to take and wear itself out. If the fish is jumping it’s advisable to point your rod to the opposite side it is heading as its razor sharp gills are capable of cutting through your leader and allowing an escape. Barramundi can take time to reel in so be patient and go with him. If you’re persistent and lucky you’ll get him in eventually. Be very careful when handling your catch and avoid contact with the gills.

There are many great spots in Australia’s north to chase the elusive Barramundi…

Western Australia:

  • Fitzroy River, 55km south of Derby
  • Keep River, 50km east of Kununurra
  • Pentecost River, 110km west of Kununurra
  • Barred Creek, Broome
  • Crab Creek, Broome
  • Willie Creek, Broome
  • Middle Lagoon, Cape Leveque
  • Hunter Creek, Cape Leveque (permission required, Aboriginal land)

Northern Territory:

  • Adelaide River, Darwin
  • Elizabeth River, Darwin
  • Darwin Harbour, Darwin
  • South Alligator River, Kakadu National Park
  • East Alligator River, Kakadu National Park
  • Shady Camp on the Mary River
  • Corroboree Billabong, Mary River National Park
  • Victoria River, Katherine
  • Daly River

Queensland:

  • Penefather River, Weipa
  • Jardine River, Cape York Peninsula
  • Jacky Jacky Creek, Cape York Peninsula
  • Daintree River, Daintree
  • Normandy River, Lakefield National Park
  • Hinchinbrook Channel, Cardwell
  • Lake Awoonga, 30km south of Gladstone
  • Lake Tinaroo, 86km southwest of Cairns
  • Good luck in the fishing department if you get up north…and be very cautious in crocodile country.

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BEAUTIFUL BARRA