Fishing for barramundi in Australia has long been one of the most popular forms of esturine and fresh water fishing. The barramundi (lates calcarifer) is one of Australians premier sport and food fishes. The Barra, as it is commonly known, can grow to a length of 1.4 meters and some 70lb. Fish in the saltwater seldom grow this big but land locked barramundi can grow to massive proportions.
The barra is a true ambush predator. Its sleek silver body is propelled by a massively powerful round tail. The mouth is large and bucket like for engulfing prey whole. The barra will often lie in wait under the cover of a snag and wait for anything that is unfortunate enough to come within striking distance. The barramundi will accelerate at blinding speed and will snap its mouth open and shut so quickly that the baitfish is sucked in with the influx of water. When barra are feeding on the surface, that sudden influx of water creates a unique BOOF sound which is only made by a feeding barra. The barramundi can be clearly recognised by its uniquely shaped head. The head dips down off the shoulders from a long slender silvery bronze body. The scales a large and there is a razor sharp gill raker on the gill plate. The barramundi looks strangely prehistoric and is an A list predator in the estuaries and lakes. Smaller barra tend to school up and will hunt in groups where as larger fish tend to be solitary. Barramundi actually change sex during their life. Most fish of less than 90cm will be male and anything bigger than that will be female. Barra can live to be 20 years old and a large female can produce 38 million eggs in one season.
Barra can live in both fresh and salt water. They are a migratory fish that will travel upstream to the freshwater billabongs during the wet and will return to the saltwater to spawn when the dry season is approaching. Some of the best fishing for barramundi in Australia can be had when the fish become landlocked in a billabong or impoundment and cannot get back to the salt water. These fish will no longer breed but will constantly feed and grow into massive fish. Fishing for impoundment barramundi has become so popular that every dam and impoundment in Queensland now has an active stocking program to keep them stocked full of big barra. It is not uncommon in Queensland dams to land barra of over a meter in length. The best time of the year is summer when it is really hot and muggy. I have found that the calmer the water the better and when there are thunderstorms forming with the barometer steadily dropping the barra just go mental. Teemburra dam near Mackay in central QLD has loads of big barra but you need to be good to get them out of the timber. Many people will use electric motors to manoeuvre their craft around the sunken timber silently while they cast deep diving lures and soft plastics. A hooked barra will often jump right out of the water shaking its head furiously trying to shake the lure.
Another popular method of fishing for barramundi in Australia is to troll lures at night. Full moon is usually best and lures that have a large rolly action seem to work well. I particularly like the RMG scorpions and the rapala xraps.
Salt water barra are excellent eating, yielding large flakey white fillets but the freshwater barra seem to have a very muddy flavour to the meat and are not held very highly as a good fish to eat. So when fishing for barramundi in Australia, limit your catch don't catch your limit.