by Jarrod Day
As the wet season approaches Darwin, billions of litres of water that had been dumped on the flood plains begin to drain back into the sea. This event occurs from December through to April with an annual rainfall of 1471.2mm of water dumped in that short period.
Dean with his monster 98cm Barra.
Barramundi that venture onto the flood plains following the hordes of baitfish flow back with the receding waters only to school up at the creek and river mouths feeding furiously on the easy offerings.
For those choosing to head north in search of barramundi tend to do so from March through to May as the run off is certainly the prime time to go in search of big barra.
Fishing the entrances: Although barra can be caught right throughout a tide, there are specific times that will be more productive.
Small tidal creeks can lead to some big barra to be caught.
On a recent trip on board Darwin Reef and Wrecks, we’d planned a four day barra mission fishing all the smaller coastal creeks in Anson Bay.
Each morning we ventured to the creek mouths and tied up to a tree on one side of the river. This allowed us good casting opportunities to the opposed bank and with the force of the current allowed our lures too be worked across the entrances.
popeye mullet trying to escape the grasp of hungry barra.
The purpose of this is as the current pushes out the last of the water from the flood plains, schools of popeye mullet are funnelled into the open water. While the bait scatters and looks for places to escape being devoured, barra school up awaiting the easy pickings.
After fishing the run out tide, we’d head back to the mother ship for lunch before venturing back to the creek entrances for the beginning of the 'push' or run in tide. This had also the same effect as the morning session with bait being schooled up awaiting the tide to push back up amongst the mangroves.
Working the cast: Fishing for barra warrants the use of a baitcast outfit. This offers precision casting with pinpoint accuracy which is required to land the lure right on the edge of the snag line. If this isn’t achieved, you could fail in hooking fish. The closer you can land the lure to the snags, the more fish you’ll hook.
Lure selection: Working the shallow creeks and rivers along the NT coast warrants the use of shallow diving lures. Most of the entrances are quite shallow only reaching a maximum depth of two meters on the high tide. While there are a wide range of lures available, shallow diving lures are ideal in these situations allowing you to put casts into shallow drains and over mangroves whereby deeper diving lures will become snagged.
The authors lure selection.
The most effective lures are those in a 110mm-160mm length and as for colour, try matching the hatch and choose colours resembling the local bait. In saying that, a few wildcards, such as yellow’s, pink’s and greens are also worth tossing around.
Favourite barra food includes Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows, Bolt Alives and Duel Hardcore Minnows.
All lures should also have the hooks and split rings upgraded. When you begin to hook fish up to and in excess of a meter in length, their power is no match for standard hooks and rings and they will find any weakness in your tackle. When it comes to choosing the right hooks and rings stick with the Owner brand. Owner ST66TN size 2, 4, 1 and 1/0 size hooks will suit all barra lures along with size 6 or 7 Owner Hyper Wire split rings.
Although there are some big barra around, this is about the standard size that can be caught.
Providing you match the right size hook with the lure, your can be confident that the fish you hook will make it to the boat.
Fishing the NT is not just fun but adrenalin pumping and highly addictive. If you are thinking of heading to the NT, jump on board Darwin’s Reef and Wrecks for a live aboard adventure you’ll never forget.
Multi jointed lures such as this Bolt Alive work extremely well.
Aleaping barra tries to escape.