Barra-Tastic – Tips, Tricks, and Techniques – By Nick Thompson
With the barra season about to open, this is the perfect time to learn more about these fish and how you can target them for the best results once the season opens again in February, 2020.
Barra; there is not just one word that can describe them. Strong, beautiful, tasty and magnificent. Whether you are targeting them on bait or one a lure they are simply amazing to catch. This article will tell you some tips and tricks to catch some of these epic fish, but sadly with the season closed right now we can’t target them, but this article will prepare for the epic barra season to come.
Barra are one of those fish you need to prepare before you go and catch one. If you are fishing with soft plastics or vibes use lighter gear to get better action with your lure. My reel preference around the 2500 size and 2 to 4 kg rod to get the best action with your lure. If you are using hard bodies, you need to use slightly heavier gear to cast the hard body further than you would with a light rod. A 5 to 8 kg rod and 4000 size reel which is the same gear you would use for bait fishing.
One of barras favourite locations to live are drains. Barra love these areas because of the freshwater that is rushing into salt water which barra love because of the large quantities of bait there, and barra often have their babies in or near fresh water so the offspring has a higher survival rate (from being eaten by their parents and other predators). Rock bars are also good because they provide good shelter for the barra and rock bars often make eddies. Eddies are formed when the water can’t flow through an object and it makes an area of slower moving water. This is where the bait seek shelter and of course the barra follow. Mangroves and fallen over trees provide a safe shelter for barra and another reason mangroves are good is because barnacles grow on the roots, so then small crustaceans eat the barnacles and algae, the bait eat crustaceans, then the barra eat the bait fish.
If you are fishing for barra in the fresh water impoundments, it is completely different for a number of reasons because there is no flow, so eddies don’t come into play, and also there are not many rock bars. So barra like to hide in fallen over trees which provide a good home for barra. A good little tip to remember is always fish the side the wind is blowing. If you are looking for a bit of surface action, try fishing around lily pads these often hold a range of predatory fish.
Live baiting for barra is something that is harder to do in freshwater, but it is one of the best ways to target barra especially in the salt as barra are one of those fish that will eat a certain bait at a certain time of the tide. Most barra fishermen love mullet, mullet are barras number one choice of prey, unfortunately for the fishermen mullet are the hardest bait to get because of their lightning quick reflexes and they often see you before you see them. If you are patient enough to get these as bait, there is a number of ways to rig them up. My favourite way to do it is put the hook just the under dorsal fin of the fish but be careful because if you put the hook through the spine of the fish, it will kill the fish and it will decrease your chances of catching a barra. Prawns are also up there as one of the best baits for barra. When using prawns for bait, you need quite large prawns or triple up small prawns. Like mullet there are a number of ways to rig up prawns and the most common way to do it is to put the hook through the back and thread the hook through and make sure that hook does not go through the head or it will kill it. The other way to do it is put the hook through the last section of the shell because it is the hardest part of the shell this way is best if you are going to double or triple them up. Herring are not the greatest bait for barra, but they do catch fish. The hook I use for barra fishing is a circle hook because it hooks itself and it hooks in the corner of the mouth of the fish but when the barra are being finicky I use a J hook. If you are using these hooks you need to make sure that the barra has engulfed the bait before you set the hooks.
Barra are known for being one of the hardest, but yet one of the best fish to target on lures. The type of lure that you use depends on the clarity of the water where the barra are feeding and what they are feeding on. If the water is clear, use natural coloured lures if the water is dirty use bright colours (my favourite is green and orange). Barra are very picky feeders they will feed on a certain lure at certain time. The first thing to picking a lure is to know where the barra are feeding as in if they are feeding in 8 meters of water or 1 meter, the reason you need to know this because if you use a lure that sinks to 10 meters and the barra feeding at 5m your chances of catching a barra are slim this is why a good sounder comes in handy. Soft plastics work really well in both fresh and salt. Soft plastics are good when the barra are feeding on the bottom. There are a number of brands and sizes of plastics and they all work so how do you know which one to use? It is always good to have a range of soft plastics the size that I use is 100 to 150mm but there is an old saying big fish eat big baits, but elephants eat peanuts. There are two ways to rig up plastics. The first way to do it is with a jig head which suites the depth of what the fish are feeding on. The second way is to put worm hook in the lure then tie a loop knot but put a sinker in the loop. The action I use for barra is a simple slow roll across the bottom, or slowly lift up your rod tip and then let it sink, the barra are lazy feeders so it is important you go nice and slow. Another lure that is really effective are vibes. Zerek vibes are my favourite because they have a much wider range of colours and styles. I find the forked tailed vibes work great, but they all catch fish. The action I use when using vibes is a slow roll with some twitches and let it sink to the bottom. Hard bodies are my personal favourite lure for barra. My favourite colour is a bright green with an orange or gold and black. Hard bodies already have a very natural swim to them, so the action I use a slow roll at every 5 or so winds and twitch downwards to keep the lure deep. If you are fishing in freshwater and you are looking for some surface action frog imitations work great, with these lures just simply wind the lure across the top of the water.
Barra have an unforgettable fight and once you have caught you first, you’re well hooked, and this is about their bite and fight. Barra often mouth their bait, so you need to let the barra engulf the bait. They way fish for these fish with bait is either leave the rod in the holder and count to three before setting the hooks. Another way of doing it is when you feel a bite or something slowly pulling against your line open the bail arm and give them some slack, then quickly wind as fast as you can to set the hooks. Once you’ve hooked a barra, straight away the fish is taking line straight to the snag it came from then all of a sudden the barra comes rocketing to the surface and leaps out of the water and this is when a lot of people lose their barramundi so it is really important to keep the pressure on the line or the hook will come out. When you bring the fish to the side of the boat you get the landing net you go land the barra and the fish takes one last run and this is where 90% of barra are lost, but once you finally bring the barra on board it is a felling that is indescribable.
I hope this article can help you prepare for an epic barra season this year. For more great tips on Fishing check out NickFish TV on YouTube.