Darwin Barramundi Fishing Guide

Darwin barramundi fishing guide Nathan explains how to catch barra in the Top End with the right tackle and trolling techniques.

Successful Darwin barramundi safari
A successful Darwin Barramundi Safari

Trolling for Barra has got a bad rap over the years, often labelled as the 'easy' way to catch fish.
As a guide, I find it a relatively stress-free way to get clients onto good fish and to cover loads of water- and get a lot less tangles and backlashes- but is it really as simple as dragging a lure behind a boat and cracking open a cold one?
As we'll discuss here, there is a little more to it than meets the eye.

TACKLE

Darwin Barramundi Fishing Guide
Darwin Barramundi Fishing Guide

Billabong Barra are fished for with standard Barramundi gear. A six foot rod rated 6-8kg coupled with a small baitcaster reel and 30lb braid is about right for starters. Braid should be brightly coloured so it can be seen by the skipper and anglers. This helps avoid tangles and makes it easy to see where the lures are. Leader choice is important. We generally use 55lb Schneider, but when the water is clear it can spook fish, so at times we will change to 40lb Fluorocarbon or Black Magic Tough Trace and find hookups increase- but with lighter lines, clients have to be more careful. If the water is dirty, you can get away with heavier leaders as the fish can't see them. Avoid those clumsy black clip-on wire traces if you actually want to catch good numbers of fish.

LURES

Reidy's lure with Barra
A Reidy's lure with Barra

Oh, this is shaky ground! Lure choice is often closely guarded by guides and gun recreational anglers, as it can matter so much at times. Different lures work at different times- or for different people. Jason Bettles, a friend and colleague of mine can have cracker days using the H-Char colour in the Reidy's Little Lucifer, while it only produces a few fish for me. On some days, I can have amazing results on the Avocado RMG Scorpion in the 1m- bib, and they're all big fish too.

Soft plastic "swimbaits" are, at times absolutely dynamite, especially later in the season when the water drops and the fine aquatic weeds die back on the mud banks.

The debate on lure colour has been raging on for some time now. In clear water with a visibility of over 20cm it can make the difference, but in filthy water I believe the fish can't see colour and go on movement alone. Sticking with what you're confident with is a good start, but don't be afraid to experiment either.

The depth of lures is absolutely vital. Most of our trolling in Corroboree is done in 5-7 feet of water. Other areas like Hardie's Lagoon require deeper lures as the water is often 10-15 feet deep. The general rule is to use lures that will (usually) not hit the bottom, as they foul up with weeds. Use lures that clear the bottom by a foot or so and you'll be in business. There are exceptions though, and we'll explore those soon.

LOCATIONS

Liz with Barramundi
Liz with Barramundi

Every billabong and lagoon in the Darwin barramundi fishing scene is different. There is so much habitat to explore in each and every one. A sounder is essential for consistent success, as is the knowledge to use it properly. Think like a fish. It makes sense but few people think of where a Barramundi would like to be. They are ambush predators and use cover to their advantage to pounce out on prey. Yes, in some instances they do drift over open bottom- but it's for a reason- there is food there. Use your instincts to determine when they would be in each place. Use a thermometer to find the best water- around 24-28 degrees is good. Crocodiles also like the warmer water on cold mornings, as do the insects.

I've found good numbers of Barra where the File Snakes have been most active. You'll see their heads poking up like ugly tortoises from time to time - often in large numbers. They follow the baitfish and warmer water in the cold months, so keep an eye out for them.

Rock Bars:

These are found in many Top End billabongs, and finding them in the vast floodplains is not always easy. You'll either need to stumble on them by accident (unlikely) or seek local advice. On cold mornings Barramundi will congregate on them. Care and stealth is needed not to spook these fish, and you'll often not see them on the sounder as they will be wedged among the rocks. You'll usually get only a couple of passes before the remaining fish glide into the depths.

Weed beds:

Along the banks in the shallows are beds of pond weed and ribbon weed. You'll need to troll so close that the lures are hitting it every few seconds. Fish sit right among it, and for most of the season this is where we get the bulk of our fish. You want your lures within a foot of the weed edge, or you probably won't get much at all.

Lotus beds:

These vast patches of pink-flowered Lotus are home to many fish, but trolling them is very hard as you often cannot get close enough to the structure as there are fingers of lotus pads poking out into the water- and you're likely to find that the water along the edge is over 12 feet deep. If you can troll them, give it a go but expect to lose fish to the stems. Better off casting at these.

Mud banks:

Surprising producers of big fish, shallow mud bays are often only 5 feet deep or less. Barra congregate to feed on Cherabins and Redclaw Crayfish, as when they are hooked they cough them up. This is where I will often troll Swim Shads and noisy hard-bodied lures on the bottom. Lures are trolled in such a way that they smash and grub their way along the bottom to make a heap of disturbance. Strikes are hard, and this is where we often get big fish.

Deep ledges:

In some lagoons, there are deep banks under overhanging Pandanus thickets. Suss them out on your sounder as fish often sit hard against the bank in such places. They're worth a shot if the shallows are not producing.

Undercut grass banks:

Grass and other plants often grow in such a way that they spread over the surface. They look like they're on solid ground, but get to know what these areas look like and you can cut corners to bring lures under them. Big Saratoga and Barramundi dwell there.

METHODS

Successful barramundi safari
A blurr of Darwin Barramundi

Trolling successfully requires some real skill. It is true in the tropics that 90% of anglers account for 10% of the fish caught. It's that 10% of anglers that get the real results. We'll see poor souls that have been fishing for five days and caught nothing at all, while those same days, the guides and gun recreationals have cleaned up.

Get your lure to the fish. Barramundi are lazy and do not like going out of their way for a feed. You need to get your lure into the strike zone- that means reading the water and using the depth of the lure to your advantage and sweeping it right past the Barramundi's nose. We see so many anglers trolling the middle of the billabongs in open water, or in crap places. We rarely see them hook up.

Work your lures. Sitting the rod in a holder is a sure-fire way to get weed on the hooks, and to not entice too many fish to strike. Don't be lazy, hold the rod and work that lure erratically. You'll get far more fish.

I often have four clients trolling at the same time. Managing those lines is fairly easy. The two anglers at the back of the boat, on the skipper's signal put their lures in the water and free-spool the reels (no thumbing the reels or casting.) When a couple of metres have been let out, the two at the front then do the same. Around 30-50m is let out, and on the skipper's signal, all reels are put into gear at the same time and fishing begins. The two at the back keep their rods vertical, while the two at the front hold them out to the sides. If done correctly, it's easy to manage four lines.

Successful barramundi safari
Final stages of landing a Barra
Keeping the rod low at this stage
is the best way to control the fish

Watch the rod tip, or feel through the rod. You'll be fishing by feel most of the time, this is where good quality graphite and braid makes so much sense. A vibrating rod means all is well with the lure. A dull action or no action means weed, mud or a tangle. Whipping the rod hard will get rid of weed and mud 90% of the time, and it will alert other anglers in the case of a tangle.

Trolling speed should be slow- around 3kph is a good start. In some cases I'll go as slow as 2kph, especially when fishing trolled plastics so they just tick over the bottom. If you have a big engine that won't idle any lower than 5kph, you'll need to install some sort of drogue or electric motor- or do what we do and take the boat in and out of gear.

While you are fishing, be sure to consider other anglers too. Read some basic rules on Darwin Barramundi billabong fishing

Longtoms, Sleepy Cod and Tarpon are regular bycatch.

sleepy cod
Sleepy Cod

freshwater longtom
Longtom

freshwater tarpon
Tarpon

fighting barramundi
Fighting Barramundi

Conclusion: Once mastered, billabong trolling is a fantastic way to rack up a good score of Barramundi, especially if casting space on board is limited or you have inexperienced crew.

It's a great way to get kids into fishing, too. Best of luck and I'll see you on the water.




Darwins Barra Base Home Contact Information;

FREE CALL: 1800 777 420
email: Click here to email Darwin's Barra Base.

mail : 2 Todd Crescent Malak NT 0812
phone: +61 8 8945 0376
fax : +61 8 8945 0379

It may be a recent technical problem has prevented us receiving some emails.
If you have contacted us and not received a reply, please use
FREECALL 1800 777 420 to ensure your enquiry was received.
Thank You



XML RSSSubscribe To This Site

XML RSS
follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My MSN
Subscribe with Bloglines



Sponsors

ARB Darwin
ARB 4WD


Fishnet
Fishnet.com.au


Fishing and Outdoor World
Fishing & Outdoor World


Frenchys Marine
Frenchys Marine


Reidy's Lures
Reidys Lures


Escape with ET Magazine
Escape with ET Magazine

Book a Safari Here

Facebook Logo
Click the Facebook Logo to see the latest photos from our various Safaris.

Slideshow 

image


Since your web browser does not support JavaScript, here is a non-JavaScript version of the image slideshow:


Claire barramundi


Allan's Barra


Brazier Barramundi


Yates Barra


Darwin Sailfish


Jarrod Day Barra

Safari Specials

Grab a cheap flight to the NT 2015 Barra Run Off.

Sale ends Mon 20/10

Full details here

2015 Barra Run Off dates now available
(Feb to April 2015) Don't miss this exciting time on the Barramundi Fishing Calendar as the massive run off of the wet season floods provides exceptional fishing.

Reef Barra to Sailfish
May to Dec. 2014

We have had an awesome year so far catching some meter plus Barra during the Run Off and would really like this to continue. We would love to take you out fishing and make your trip a memorable one!
Please see our amazing Barra to Sailfish Pelagics Bluewater 2014 Itinerary. This includes all the latest seat availability and start dates for the upcoming Safaris available.

BARRA TO SAILFISH BLUEWATER PELAGICS SAFARIS NOW AT A REDUCED RATE OF $625 PER PERSON PER DAY!!!


Book a Safari Here

5 DAY MOTHERSHIP
BARRA to SAILFISH & PELAGICS BLUEWATER FISHING SAFARI anchored @ Daly River Mouth
Anth & Dani's Big Trip Anth & Dani "What an amazing trip, we had tried all types of fishing from rivers, deep channels, poppers, bait fishing, trolling and lure fishing. We were amazed at the variety of fish and beauty of the place. Special thanks to Allan and Heather for their hospitality, we highly recommend Darwin's Barra Base if you are coming to the Territory"

Gift Vouchers

Call us to arrange a gift that will be remembered for a lifetime. More details here.

gift voucher sample

Yates Big BarraBig Barra

FreeCall 1800 777 420
Negotiate your groups dates & bookings Click here for full contact details

Channel 10 BucketList
Fishing with
Darwins Barra Base

Darwins Barra Base Boats on BucketList VideoPlay Video

Barra & Sailfish Safari

Darwin Sailfish Fishing
Sailfish Video

Mark Berg Fishing TV Show was filmed with Darwins Barra Base over a 3 Day Safari 23-25 June 2010 for Foxtel's Lifestyle Channel viewed across Australia.

Call now on
1800 777 420
Negotiate your groups dates & bookings. Click here for full contact details

Video of barramundi mothership safari with Darwins Barra Base
Barra Run Off Fishing Video

Video of barramundi fishing with Mark Berg on a Darwins Barra Base Safari
Barra Run Off Fishing Video


2014 Barra Run Off Safaris

Increased Limit of 3 Barra per person per day for the Mary River, including Shady Camp, has been announced.
Booking seats now will avoid missing a place on a 2014 Barra Run Off Safari with Darwins Barra Base. Now four great purpose built boats allow more people to experience the fantastic barramundi fishing available during the February to May Barra Run Off season in the Northern Territory. Read more...

Latest News


Allan and Heather Beale

Your hosts – Heather and Allan Beale have lived in Darwin for over two decades. They know the Territory and pride themselves on making every visitor feel a special part of their family.