OVER the past month we travelled all the way to Monduran Dam just past the little town of Gin Gin to target barramundi for a week.
Let me tell you, this barra bite was an experience and a half. The majority of my mates who came along had never fished for barra, while I had fished for them in salt water but never an impoundment, so it was a learning experience for us all. After months of preparation, doing research, stocking up on lures and making sure our gear was in top order, we were set to rock and roll for our 16-hour road trip to Monduran.
We tried to plan our trip so we could make a few stops along the way such as the Big Banana, MOTackle and finally Barra Havoc in Gin Gin to see if the staff had any last-minute advice or lures. We were quite surprised by the owner of Barra Havoc and impressed with his knowledge. Most small tackle shops just sell gear and don’t offer advice but he was knowledgeable and welcoming. So with our shopping done, we arrived at Lake Monduran Holiday Park to stay in our luxurious cabin overlooking the water. We were staying close enough to hear the barra fart.
We had organised to meet up with Rob from Guidelines Fishing Charters the following day in the hope he could point us in the right direction. There wasn’t much sleep in anticipation of what was to come. The following morning, we were already up and raring to go before the alarm went off. My mate Scotty and I raced down to the boat ramp to wait for Rob to arrive. Scotty and I had wanted to do this trip for years.
Rob turned up on time with a smile and a friendly greeting and in no time we were speeding off across the water in pitch-black darkness to our first spot.
Here is where it gets tricky. Monduran is a massive area but often the barra congregate on small feeding grounds sometimes covering only 5m of water. Having a guide like Rob is a must. Rob has over 10 years of experience fishing this dam day in, day out. Even if you can only afford one session with him, it is well worth it just to get a lay of the area. So as you can probably tell, I am by no means a professional at fishing for barra but my hope for this article is to pass on some helpful hints from what we learnt to steer you in the right direction.
In Monduran, generally barra bite on shallow, wind-blown banks of about 2m deep. When we found our first little spot, we knew it was going to be difficult to catch one. But with Rob in our corner, we were more confident than we would have been on our own. After 50 or 60 casts into the same snag employing a slow-rolling retrieve with a Jackall Squirrel minnow lure, Scotty caught his first-ever barra. It was only relatively small at 60cm but it was a start.
We moved to the next spot and straight away my reel began going off. I had a big metre-plus barra on the line but as quickly as I hooked it, it was gone. I think everyone at the holiday park heard me scream. On a positive note, it turned out the spot we had just found was our home for the next six days as it was the most productive area. In one day, I lost seven metre-sized barra. It’s rare to see one or two of these massive fish in a day – but seven – I was completely gutted.
I kept reliving the moments, thinking ‘what did I do wrong?’ and ‘what could I do differently?’ but barra are masters of escape. They were headbutting the lures and foul hooking, so as soon as they turned their body or jumped, the hook would come out. We also had big brutes crushing and straightening the hooks and just plain unstoppable beasts murdering our lures in tight snags. All in all it was a great learning experience and we ended up landing a lot of fish.
Our biggest barra went 98cm and it was boated on a Lox Gen2 Baitcaster, 60lb braid and 80lb leader. We fished mainly in the early morning until about 11am, then we’d go back to camp to eat and sleep before getting back on the water at 5pm. It was hard work casting thousands of times into the one snag but it was well worth it.
The best advice I can give if you are looking at going on a similar adventure is to do the research and really plan your trip. Don’t go under-gunned. Get a good rod and reel and make sure it’s comfortable. Just remember you’ll be making thousands of casts, so it must be a really comfortable setup. That’s why we went for the best and chose Lox rods. I’d also recommend hiring a charter guide. Doing so could be the difference between landing a bunch of fish and not getting a touch.
So with sore arms and after a lot of blood, sweat and tears we headed home to rest up for our next adventure. I hope you enjoyed reading and got something out of this article. If you want to find out about any of the Lox gear we used, jump onto loxfishing.com
To contact Rob from Guidelines Fishing Charters, find his business on Facebook or call 07 4157 3881. Don’t forget to like 2 Mates Fishin on Facebook to follow our adventures and see our videos. Until next time, happy and safe fishing.