With barramundi season opening in Queensland from February 1 and the northern impoundments firing, many anglers are planning or setting off on a northern fishing adventure.
I thought this would be a great time to take a closer look at three techniques that have proven successful for friends and I when we’re targeting barra, along with the presentation that gets the bites for us when using each technique.
Including these three techniques in your arsenal is sure to increase your chances of hooking up to some memorable fish on your adventure.
Presentation – Z-Man 4” Goat ToadZ on a 6/0 TT Fishing ChinlockZ or 1/8oz 6/0 ChinlockZ SWS.
Buzzing frogs across the surface can attract fish from afar and draw some brutal surface strikes, making for some adrenaline-filled fishing.
Prime areas to target include pockets in the weed beds, water behind the hard line of weed edges and over the top of shallow weed beds, where barramundi cruise through the breaks in the weed bed and lay in the weed pockets waiting to ambush bait.
Frogs can also be effective, working shallower edges and points. In the salt, they are also deadly when skipped under mangroves and into drains, then buzzed back out. Cast long and use any available breeze to increase casting distance.
Keep your rod tip up and wind fast enough that the paddle feet on the frog start to bubble and gurgle, creating an irresistible sound, bubble trail and action that drives barra crazy.
The unweighted ChinlockZ is ideal for buoyancy, paired with the naturally buoyant Goat ToadZ, while the belly weighted ChinlockZ SWS will increase casting distance, especially if you are battling a little in the wind.
A continual steady retrieve generally attracts the bites, however if the bites aren’t coming, don’t be afraid to mix things up with a few pauses or a pulse and pause around structure.
This technique is a great way to cover water and find actively feeding fish.
Soft plastic swimbaits
Presentation – Z-Man HerculeZ 4”, 5” or 6”.
One of the most popular ways to fish for impoundment barramundi – and a technique that is also effective when fishing deeper in the salt – is slow rolling soft plastic swimbaits.
This technique is ideal for beginners and deadly for experienced anglers, as straight out of the packet, the Z-Man HerculeZ is ready to go – rigged with a strong hook and being a paddle tail, there’s loads of action to attract fish and trigger strikes.
It’s a perfect mullet imitation – a favourite food of barramundi.
An integrated stainless-steel attachment point on the belly allows the addition of a treble or assist hooks to increase the hook-up rate, especially when fishing more open water.
You can roll a swimbait almost anywhere, however proven areas to target include weed edges, points, timber, channels in the weed and over the top of weed flats.
You can regulate the depth at which your swimbait runs by speeding up the retrieve (shallower) or slowing the retrieve (deeper) or by adjusting the rod angle higher (shallower) or lower (deeper).
A constant slow retrieve is generally preferred, however if the bite is tough, you may wish to mix things up by varying the retrieve speed or adding the occasional pause.
Weedless rigged plastics
Presentation – Z-Man MinnowZ, DieZel MinnowZ or SwimmerZ on a TT Fishing SnakelockZ, Snake EyeZ or ChinlockZ SpinZ.
One of the most effective ways to target barramundi, especially when fishing around structure, is to cast and retrieve weedless rigged paddle tail plastics.
Weedless rigging sees the hook point and barb concealed within or sitting hard against the back of the paddle tail, allowing you to fish weed, timber, lilies and other structure with minimal chance of snagging or fouling.
This technique also allows you to reduce tackle losses when gearing up and heading north on a barra adventure.
The ability to interchange TT Fishing SnakelockZ and Snake EyeZ head weights and hook sizes also allows you more rigging options, while reducing the amount of gear you need to purchase and carry with you.
In freshwater impoundments, the larger plastics are more popular – such as the Z-Man 5” DieZel MinnowZ and 6” SwimmerZ, rigged on 6/0 and 8/0 weedless jig heads.
While in the salt, where the average fish size will be smaller, these will still get a run, however Z-Man 3” MinnowZ on a 3/0 and 4” SwimmerZ or DieZel MinnowZ on a 4/0 will dominate the catches.
Again, a slow roll is generally the preferred retrieve technique, varying the speed or adding a few pauses if you’re not getting the bites.
I generally prefer to keep the plastic moving and keep the pauses short when rigging weedless because this helps to ensure a positive hook set when fish strike.
Rigging weedless gives you the ability to fish the ugliest structure you can find, from laydown timber to timber snag piles, mangrove edges to weed beds and those fishy looking drains that are often riddled with snags.
It will also see you spending less time unhooking lures out of the mangroves or timber if your casting accuracy is a little off – meaning less fish spooked and more time with your lure in the water.
So, there you go, if you’re planning a barramundi adventure and looking for a few methods to try that have proven themselves time and again, these three techniques and presentations are a great starting point.
Remember to keep your eyes and ears open for bait, prime structure and fish activity.
And rig a variety of lures if you’re fishing with friends, so you can more effectively crack a pattern, and vary your retrieves until you find what draws the strikes on the day.
Most importantly, enjoy the journey, the places fishing takes you and all the cool stuff you encounter along the way.
See you on the water.