Barramundi (barra) are known internationally as Australia’s favorite light tackle sportfish. They are a beautiful looking silverfish with large scales and a massive bucket mouth! They are found in the northern parts of the country from the central Queensland coast, across the Northern Territory and into Western Australia.
Barra can live in fresh or saltwater, they are found in billabongs and lagoons after flooding events and there are also multiple stocked impoundments in North Queensland. Barra can grow up to 1.4m long with an approx weight of 40kg. These fish are an awesome fly target, with a fast and powerful bite and ariel antics when hooked. They have a bucket like mouth and perform violent head shakes once you set the hook.
The best way to target barra on fly is to sight cast them around shallow coastal flats. The fish will be up in tight to the mangroves hunting, they will sit under the roots ambushing bait as tide drops. Generally, the bigger fish are more comfortable in deeper water but it’s not uncommon to sight meter plus fish on the flats.
Barra can also be sight fished up in the freshwater reaches and around weed beds in impoundments. During flooding events, the barra will push up small drains and creek mouths where the baitfish congregate. This is where you might be lucky enough to come across a feeding frenzy. The Barra will boof bait of the surface sounding like fireworks or even a gunshot on a silent night. They will engulf mouth fulls of bait but are just as happy to tackle a mullet half there size!
Tips to Catching Barramundi on the Fly:
1. Sightfishing is key! Keep an eye out for their black and/or yellow tails around the mangroves/weed beds, they may be just below the surface but incredibly hard to see! They usually sitting with there nose down and head into the current.
2. Know where to find them! Choose a weather-protected flat with a sandy mangrove corner ideally with a little creek flowing into it, start fishing on the high tide, and through the runout. Work your way up and down the mangroves and if they’re there, you will figure out their movements.
3. Match the hatch! Check out what bait you think they’re feeding on and choose a fly pattern to suit. Don’t be afraid to cast small profiles if the fish are tuned into that tiny bait. These fish will also eat larger profiles with lots of color and movement. A classic barra fly here in Oz is the Pink Thing or a Barra bunny.
4. Use a weed guard! Barramundi are generally sitting tight to structure if they are in ambush mode. You will find yourself doing suicide casts to get the eat.
5. Set the hook! When a barra eats, they inhale or engulf at lightning speed, they exhale just as quick if there’s a hook involved! So therefore you have a split second to strip set. If the fish is deep in the laydown or mangroves try and jump it out on the hook set.
6. Use a minimum of 40lb tippet! Barra have a sandpaper like mouth and the terrain your fishing is hard on gear! A larger model fish in shallow water will give you line burn and have you scratching your head in the first few seconds. The little ones will have you poking around trying to untangle them in no time as well, so you gotta be on the ball and go hard to get them in the open water.