I like many fisherman have a fishing “bucket list”. A list of fish species that I want to catch during my lifetime. One of those species I needed to catch was a Barramundi. I have caught Barramundi once before on a guided trip up north but to me it never really counts as a capture unless it’s on your own merit with your own ability. I had a great time on the guided trip landing many fish up to a metre but I promised myself that I would return with my boat or kayak and give it a go myself without the help of a seasoned Barra pro. Being from Melbourne, Barramundi fishing is about as far from home as it gets and I knew that it would take a little while before I got the chance to get back up there to give it a shot. Well recently I had that opportunity as my partner and I embarked on a trip up the eastern coast of Australia camping and fishing at every location we could along the way. I knew that we would end up in Barra territory and I knew that this would be my chance to have a shot at catching one myself.
It didn’t take long until I realised that I may not have the proper outfit for this style of fishing. I have many spin outfits from the tiny bream gear right up to the heavy offshore stuff but I didn’t have a bait-casting outfit that is most ideally suited to Barra fishing. You can get a lot of power in a baitcast outfit while still keeping the ergonomics quite small. A threadline outfit that can handle 50lb braid and 80lb leader tends to be quite a large cumbersome piece of gear and due to the fact I was going to be fishing out of the kayak I knew this wouldn’t be ideal. After a stack of research on what the pro’s and average joe’s were using I came to the conclusion that the Tatula was the reel I was after. I matched this to a Generation Black “Beefstick” and loaded the reel with PE3 Saltiga braid. I had my outfit, I had a Kayak, I had a ton of lures and I was ready to tangle with some Barramundi.
We arrived at Kinchant Dam near Mackay after about 2 weeks of driving up the coast fishing and sightseeing along the way. It was the middle of winter and from the research I had done I knew that the fishing would be slower than usual as the Barra tend to prefer the warmer water temperatures. Most of what I had read suggested that the fish liked to seek shelter in the weedy lillypad lined edges of the dam throughout the day soaking up as much of the midday heat they can in the shallower waters. I woke early the following morning and fished hard from sunrise throwing all I could in every direction I could to no avail. The fish seemed to be completely shut down and after speaking to a few fisherman in the area that hadn’t had great success I was starting to lose confidence in my chances of catching one. I returned to camp at around lunchtime feeling a little bewildered wondering what I could do to tempt these dormant fish. I figured that if fish weren’t actively moving around feeding my best chances were to go for an aggression strike approach. By getting lure right in their face I figured that a big Barra would be more likely to attack my lure out of frustration.
I ventured out again that afternoon and as the fish were going to be right in the thick of the weed I opted for a weedless rigged soft plastic and began casting right into the thick stuff and letting the lure sink to the bottom before slowly rolling it back. After a few very bumpy retrieves through the submersed forest I felt the rod load up before seeing a bid gold slab launch from out of the lillypads and begin an aerial display like only Barramundi can. After a few short jumps the fish got tangled up in the weed and after 3 or 4 minutes of leaning over the side of the Kayak trying to untangle it I was over the moon to see a Barra that measured 97cm. It wasn’t one of the metre-ten plus monsters this place is known for but I couldn’t have cared less. Im sure the whole lake heard my cheers as I took a quick snap before seeing her swim off. I had done it, I had planned out my Barramundi mission and I had succeeded. One more ticked off the bucket list.