For me, it’s the worst time of year again.
East coast saltwater barramundi season is closed now for the next three months.
It’s tough not pursuing your number one interest but, as they say, as one door closes another one opens.
There are three main species that I move my focus to when it’s closed barra season.
The first is king threadfin salmon.
I’ll put my neck out and say that the Fitzroy delta is the best place in Australia to target extra-oversized threadfin.
Threadies are a very cool species and, the bigger they get, the cooler they are.
They have a rocket-ship shaped tail that gets them on the move super quickly and they also have the turning ability of a forklift.
Lightning speed and the ability to turn on a dime makes them an incredible sport fish.
With long whiskers for feeling out shrimp and other prey in very dirty water and mud, it’s a weird almost alien-like feeling when, holding one up for a photo, they wrap those whiskers around your hand.
On smaller tides, threadies like to hang around in schools and occasionally those schools can be in the hundreds.
It’s an impressive sight to see on side or 360 imaging.
The bigger the schools, the easier it is to keep lures in front of them.
If I had to pick my three favourite lures for threadies, they would be the following.
First, you can’t beat a good old-fashioned soft vibe – Zerek Fish Trap or Samaki Vibelicious Thumper Tail.
Second, you’ll need a prawn imitation, so a 3” Berkley Gulp Shrimp.
Last but not least is a good old paddle tail option and it would be hard to beat a Molix RT Shad in 3.5” and 4.5”.
My next target species would be fingermark – also called golden snapper.
This time last year, we absolutely killed it on this species.
The last trip out to Port Alma, I did about 3 hours fishing, and the rest of the time was spent searching for new ground.
I managed to land 13 all up, with the biggest going 66cm.
Fingermark love structure, particularly rock bars.
Though another favourite location to target them are wrecks.
In all my hours of searching for new spots, I’ve found a couple of sneaky wrecks that not many people know about.
The less likely these spots have been fished, the better the odds of catching quality models.
You will still catch good fingermark off snags and bank slips, but I’ve had a much higher success rate targeting them on these types of structure.
Another plus to pursuing this species is that they can be caught in a wide range of depths.
I’ve caught them in 18-20m in some of the deep holes in our estuary systems and in as little as 1m of water.
Though bear in mind, fingermark are extremely slow growing, so take only what you need.
I generally keep the better quality fish for the table, because they are an absolute delicacy, and then tag the rest.
It’s always interesting to get data back on where they have moved and how slowly they grow.
Picking my top three fingermark lures is tough – I use a wide range of lures for this species, however a soft vibe is hard to beat.
I really like a vibe with a lot of vibration, so first, I would go a Nomad Vertrex Max in 75mm and 95mm.
For a prawn imitation, I’m absolutely loving the Chasebaits Flick Prawn in the 95mm size, so that would be second.
The third and final lure is the one I pull out when fishing deep rock bars.
Fingermark can be spread out sometimes, so trolling deep-diving lures can be a real winner.
My favourite would be the Halco RMG Poltergeist Crazy Deep in the orange and gold colour.
For some reason, that colour catches.
I’ve even put it up against different colours and it outperforms them every time.
My third and favourite fish to target in the barra closed season is mangrove jack.
These hard-hitting red devils are so much fun and can be a real pain in the butt to work out.
It’s the same old story – just when you think you’ve got them sussed, they send you back to the drawing board.
My two favourite places to target them are snags and rock bars.
If I’m chasing smaller-sized jacks, then skip-casting under mangrove canopies is my go-to.
If chasing larger models, look to go deeper, targeting deep snags and rock bars.
In my experience, big jacks love a fast burn, so this is the retrieve I use the most.
The ‘burn and kill’ is my number one technique.
If the structure is deep, I might occasionally go to a 1oz jig head – so I can keep the plastic down and still get a fast burn going.
Three of my favourite jack lures…
Number one is the Molix RT Shad in 3.5” and 4.5”.
The Blueback Herring colour has been a massive stand out.
If you’re skip-casting under mangroves, Z-Man MinnowZ and Diezel MinnowZ rigged weedless are deadly.
If the jacks are a bit lethargic, a natural prawn imitation such as the Chasebaits Flick Prawn is a great option.
Well, there you have it.
A bit of information as to what you can do to get by in the closed barra season.
I ran out of time to do a write up on the Humminbird Fitzroy River Barra Bash, but stay tuned, hopefully I’ll have it done for next month