12
Apr

Rainy day and had a feeling we’d catch some fish. Found some baitfish on the sounder and followed them around jigging vibes. I caught a decent chunky trevally on a small duo vibe with thin trebles. The memory card on my camera wasn’t formatted and I lost the photos but he was hungry engulfing the lure hard. Ryan was using a transam style lure and got a sold bump just after a nice snag. After a good fight I netted this nice 63cm barramundi as the hooks fell out.

Barron River Barramundi

Spotted this 130+ dead grouper that was washed up into this tree. Wonder if he was the resident of the fishing platform around and corner, and exactly what happened?

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04
Oct

We decided to fish Trinity Inlet this morning focusing on the hour and a half either side of high tide. The plan was to just target barra as closed season approaches, and to try and get Ryan his first legal sized fish ever. There wasn’t a lot of baitfish around except for very small fry and some jelly prawns and with a 2.5m tide a lot of fish (and the barra) were sheltering deep up in the mangroves. Near the tide turn there were plenty of ‘boofs’ up in the mangroves.

The spot we’d decided on was fairly quiet and we ran lures over all sorts of likely snags before heading for some shallow well timbered areas. Conditions were ideal with barely a drop of wind and enough water to get into an area that is perfect ambush territory for barramundi to prey on baitfish. Ryan told me to cast up into this one spot near some glassy water as he fired off a long cast across some gnarly structure. I watched his cast and a barra hit his gold bomber and take the air. Ryan did very well to get the fish to the boat through numerous snags using 20lb braid and leader and after a few tense moments while the barra ran around in a snag I netted the fish.

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The barra measured 65cm and Ryan was a pretty happy man as you might be able to tell.

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All I could manage for todays effort was this brave little GT.

08
Aug

The stuff you catch when there is nothing else happening…

golden

trev

fugu

barra

jack-lil

14
Jul

Have hit the Barron twice lately in varying conditions, glassed out for nothing except a baby fingermark. Then yesterday we managed half a dozen baby tiddler barra on gulp shrimp with one good fish lost to a snapped leader on the gill raker. Still beats sitting at home!

Someone (not me) needs to clean their brag mat!

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tiddler-fingermark

barra

golden

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07
May

What started as a frustrating morning in the salty mangroves turned out to be a fun day catching the world’s smallest barra and jacks in the brackish waters of the Barron River.

We arrived bright and early to a local creek to find a lack of bait and not much action. After what felt like 50 casts of the castnet, we scrounged up enough bait to at least get some lines out. First action of the day was a great take on a little mullet I had out, then a small jump as a barra spat the mullet back out. It was just before the run started to slow and I had called it for a bite window not less than 60 seconds before.

Before long the tide turned, started to run out and all the bait was gone. Ryan was persisting as I’d just been giving him a few tips on how to cast a net and while he practiced he hauled in a decent nets worth of herring. Then before long he was onto some decent prawns, exactly what I’d hoped to see.

So I got back on the net and we filled the bucket and headed to the Barron River to drop some live prawns down into likely snags for a barra or two. Not less than 10 minutes in I’d pulled two little barra of one snag and they were good fun and better than sitting around a sandfly ridden creek you couldn’t have bought a bite in.

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Ryan got in on the action third fish with a cute little jack, then possibly the worlds smallest barra (which he clearly didn’t want a photo of) then the worlds smallest jack right at the end. It’s just luck of the draw as to what size you’ll find around these snags but they are usually just frustratingly shy of legal, sometimes a larger barra is lurking. One thing is for sure though, barramundi go nuts for a live prawn, some of these little guys can really hit hard and fight better than some bigger models I’ve caught.

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baby-mangrove-jack

Did not take too long and all the prawns were gone, mostly due to wise jack attacks that leave nothing but a tail, the hit and run experts. In all we caught about 7 barra and 2 jacks. Next time we are going late afternoon and into the night to see what larger fish turn up.

barra-2

barramundi

26
Mar

We went for another live bait land based fish last night to hopefully exploit the very narrow window that existed around the top of the tide. Quickly gathering some live bait, mostly herring, the cast net started to swim off and Tony dropped a decent cast net barra. Set the livies out and I threw one on the carrot stick baitrunner combo out a bit further and was rewarded with a 66cm barra. Tony decided that a line best be entered in the same region and also threw out a live herring that was totally smashed by a small fingermark. Most people wouldn’t believe how hard these fish can HIT a live bait, was a screaming run but quickly subdued. Tony also caught one of his favourite doubles, a tarpon and an eel.

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66-barra

tony-finger

19
Mar

Live bait, lures and soft plastics. A fair few bust offs, at least 6. We kept moving until we found where the barra were feeding. I was lucky to get one of my lures back after a huge hit and run from a very large barra. Leader knot failed because some idiot forgot to retie it from the other night.

Live bait did the trick, herring or mullet and somehow Tony caught nearly all the fish (freak). Also got a very good buck mud crab in one of the pots! Watching mullet get slammed off the surface and getting drilled by unstoppable barra near pylons was the highlight!

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60cm flathead

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36cm mangrove jack

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40cm GT

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44cm cod

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51cm tarpon

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65cm barramundi

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63cm barramundi

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crab

11
Mar

Dinner was canceled and a last minute decision was made to go for a fish. I’ve been keen to test some of the latest batch of lures that I’ve come up with. Mostly larger lures with a bit of bulk to them. The plan was to collect live bait, soak a line in the Trinity Inlet and flick a lure around the lights where bait and barra congregate.

It was a fairly quiet night with not many runs, then out of nowhere Tony and I got a double hook up, his was a legal mangrove jack and mine a 60cm barramundi. The mangrove jack was caught on a sardine and the barra on a bony bream. We persisted for another 30-45 minutes with not much result before moving out of the shallow water into the deep not long after the tide started to run out.

60cm barra

60cm barra-mat

Fishing the deeper water was slow, the water was consistently changing between turbid and relatively clean with not much bait around. Then out of the blue, Tony caught a 40+ fingermark and also a fairly decent tarpon on a gulp shrimp, christening his new reel. After around an hour some bait (mostly mullet) started moving into the area off the flats and so did the barramundi. Tony started getting ‘flashed’ by big barra as he retrieved his tiny two inch shrimp, so I started throwing around one of the lures I’ve made.

I put out a long cast and instantly started a moderate to fast constant retrieve just near a developing current line. The lure got belted hard, really hard. Instantly taking to the air I could see this was a decent barra, I felt the line pull tight and the lure secure its place firmly in the jaw. This fish was full of beans and did his best to both dislodge the lure jumping several times with violent head shakes then huge diving runs setting the hook firmly. Also trying it’s best to take me around the pylons as well. The gear I was using stood up to the fight but I couldn’t believe the strength this barra had, on one of the power runs I was actually pulled off my feet momentarily. Awesome, haven’t had a estuary fish do that before! Netting the fish in a dilly lift pot was certainly hairy, yet mildly entertaining and it took many, many attempts in the fast flowing current. Didn’t look good on a few occasions but the braid held up and rod kept the barra off the pylons with relative ease. Very happy with this set up and it is far more capable than I’d given it credit for.

We were a little surprised the fish only went 85cm as it was a very healthy specimen and was called for closer to 90cm in the water. But for my first fish on a homemade lure, I couldn’t be happier! I tested the lure in the pool earlier in the day and even though it needs a final clear coat, the lure swam well so I thought I’d give it a go. Tony’s mate Matt saw it in the water and really liked the action asking me about it, he couldn’t believe I’d made it which was good feedback.

85cm barra on homemade timber lure

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85-barra-mat

Tony also dropped a large barra which was bound to happen fishing tight quarters with 8lb braid and a medium heavy rod. Hooked on the humble two inch shrimp!!

16
Feb

My plans for this barramundi season are many. I’ve shared some below. There is something about this enigmatic fish that keeps you coming back for more, time and time again!

Fishing plastics deep during the day

A lot of time was spent casting snags in the mangroves during the day last season. The results were not very impressive barramundi wise, but lots of mangrove jack were caught. This season I plan to reduce this by half and heavily fish deep holes during the day when the fish have receded into deeper water after the sun has come up. This will help me work out the barra’s movements through the tides each day.

Exploring larger lures & swim baits

When fishing the ‘snags’ in the early morning and evening I’m planning on upscaling my offerings. There are a few reasons for this, partially because I just think large lures are awesome, but mostly to lure a large barramundi into something it would not normally see. It’s no secret that barramundi eat very large prey, but how many anglers actively exploit this? There are so many spots that I’ve fished over the last year that just haven’t produced when they look so fishy. I’m sure something big is down there and the offering is just wrong to invite that big barra out to bite.

Slowing down presentations

Barramundi are not mangrove jack. Barramundi are not mangrove jack. Barramundi are not mangrove jack. How many times do I need to remind myself this and S L O W    D O W N! Much easier than you would think. I tend to get over excited and rush, even if I try really hard to SLOW DOWN, before long I’m back to my old ways – ripping lures around and catching mangrove jacks! Another thing that needs to slow is how long I spend peppering the same ‘snag’, and what lures are being thrown into it. Starting with a slow retrieve, more lures, different types of lures need to be thrown at the same snag until a pattern forms.

Explore the options

Last season I simply threw too many of the same sized lures, in the same ways. At the end of the season I’d started to mix it up with some lighter prawn type presentations and this worked to great effect, however, still to many jacks. Slow down. This season I want to take that a few steps further, with tiny prawns and hard bodies, small plastics, vibes, regular jerk and twitch baits, through to large lures and swim baits, mostly all fished dead slow!

New areas I would like to explore include a couple of land based spots, learning how to fish the flats and headlands. Run off period (‘what run off period?’ I hear you say, it’s looking late) is when this plan will kick in and I’d like to fish the same spot once every few days in an attempt to crack some sort of pattern.

Being prepared for that beasty mumma!

Embarrassed to say it, but I lost some big fish last year. One in particular sticks out, I was fishing a lucky craft sammy walk the dog surface lure and exploring a local creek. I was new to fishing walk the dog lures and enjoying just getting the hang of the action. Catching a fish wasn’t really top of mind when I went down that day, but after a while the conditions just started to feel right. I was starting to feel confident I’d catch a fish. Experimenting with different cadences, I slowed to an almost mesmerising retrieve. It wasn’t until the lure was within the last 10 metres that it hit, and HIT IT DID! OMG! What the hell just happened? It was like someone had dropped two besser bricks on top of my lure. Instantly my rod loaded up right through the butt, something I’d never have imagined as it’s not exactly the lightest rod, the drag screamed off and before I could even say YES! The hooks pulled.

How could this happen? I reeled in my lure, still trembling from the adrenaline rush and all was revealed. One treble was totally straightened. How could I do this? I normally replace all my trebles with serious ones, but in a rush to learn walk the dog, I’d not even thought twice and lost what would have been the fish of the year. Talk about devastated. I still think about it.

Don’t repeat my bad experiences and prepare well!

Pay more attention to the signs & fish the correct tides at least once a day

When do barramundi bite the most? Dawn and dusk, yes! But apart from that I’m none the wiser apart from fishing around the tide turns mostly high and fishing when the conditions are stable or about to change with an approaching storm front. I want to change this and start to learn a few more patterns and likely haunts throughout some of the local systems around Cairns.

So what are your plans for this season? Any special new techniques planned? Any new area you want to try?

14
Feb

Hit a Cairns land based timber snag today to try catch a barramundi. Upon arriving I was greeted with near perfect conditions and nobody else fishing. I tied on what’s fast becoming my new favourite plastic, the Imakatsu Javillon swim bait. These things are all I’d hoped they would be, swim amazingly and when you pause them they glide down just like a real fish. A quick flick of the wrist sees them rise up then turn in a seductive way with a perfect sink rate rigged weightless.

I’ve only given these new plastic swim baits two good goes, one wasn’t in perfect conditions but still managed to raise a couple of ‘flashes’ from quite decent legal sized barramundi. They certainly do get the attention of larger fish!

Lightly twitching the plastic swim bait up over the snag, then pausing it created an almost feeding like action of a smaller bait fish. There are barramundi here almost all the time and it’s just a matter of coaxing them out. It wasn’t long before a couple of ‘flashes’ from nice sized barramundi started happening. Then while extra slow retrieving I noticed a rather large figure following right on my lure with the plastic bang on it’s nose. Less than 2 metres away from me was a metre plus barra just sniffing the lure. My heart skipped a beat (well actually several beats) as I just tried to stay still and avoid spooking the fish while still work the lure slowly. She didn’t even notice me as I coaxed her right past my feet gently twitching the lure, then at the last minute she decided, no, that’s not for me and turned away. I gave the lure one last sharp jig and like a rocket the big girl blasted back at it before turning away again. Devastated, I just stood there in disbelief at what I’d just seen. Even though I didn’t hook up it was still awesome and so damn cool to see such a large fish investigating a lure so close to the surface in plain view.

I cast that plastic swim bait around for a little longer before deciding to offer them something new and irresistible. So on went the trusty two inch gulp shrimp and just as I was tying it on two other guys arrived and started casting hardbodies around. It really doesn’t take much to put fish off and these guys moving around and talking defiantly had an effect on the fishing. Especially when there isn’t much run in the water and barely any wind. Nearly perfect conditions were fading fast and the sun was starting to get too high as well.

Then, just as the rain started, I erratically jigged the tiny shrimp deep into the snag, then up towards the surface, repeating the action in various areas near and around the snag. All of a sudden this beautiful little barramundi fires up and just annihilates the shrimp. Often smaller barramundi hit hard and fast, well this little guy was no exception and wanted this shrimp bad! With the drag fairly close to locked, he rips off taking about 3-4 metres of line before meeting too much resistance and turning back. He thrashed, ripping around and jumping a little before calming and I finally get his shoulders out and quickly lift the leader up and land him.

He was around 48cm, in good health and also tagged. I didn’t want to play around with him and the yellow tag, so I took two quick pics in the rain and sent him on his way. He had destroyed a heavyish tt jig head and I really need to find a stronger way to rig such small plastics. If a big barra hits I’ll just be smoked. I was using a St Croix Legend Xtreme medium heavy 6’6″ spin stick, Daiwa Exist Hyper Custom 2508, 20lb castaway braid and 16lb leader.

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It would be nice to fish really light gear here but you’d just get blown away should anything near legal or bigger hit, and the tight structure leaves little choice but near locked drag settings. If that bigger fish had taken the plastic today it would have been an interesting fight, about 50/50 chance of landing her depending on which direction she took. It will happen sooner or later!

Having fished this same spot sporadically for about 1 year now, only just lately is a pattern finally forming. I was chatting to a mate the other day and with the exception of him and another guy (who I’ve dubbed the ‘silent assassin’) we have barely seen anyone land a fish here, let alone a decent one. I’ve seen hundreds of different people fishing here for around 5 fish caught, all undersized except one mangrove jack that was 35cm exact. A lot of the fish caught here are at night on live bait, but during the day it’s hard going.