Fishing Cairns North Queensland Fishing Guide
Fishing Cairns On Facebook
Fishing Cairns Blog






You Dont Have Flash. Click here to download Flash Player

You Dont Have Flash. Click here to download Flash Player

You Dont Have Flash. Click here to download Flash Player




Home | Book Charters & Packages Here | Contact Us | Enquiries    






Fishing Reports

Back Issues:
    • Aug 16, 2007
    • Jul 23, 2007
    • Jun 10, 2007
    • Feb 22, 2007
    • Oct 25, 2006
    • Jun 19, 2006
    • Apr 24, 2006
    • Dec 05, 2005
    • Sep 25, 2005
    • Aug 25, 2005
    • Jan 25, 2005
    • Nov 21, 2004
    • Jul 25, 2004
    • May 16, 2004
    • Jan 28, 2004
    • Sep 29, 2003
    • Jun 14, 2003
    • Mar 14, 2003
    • Jan 12, 2003
    • Dec 15, 2002
    • Oct 15, 2002
    • Aug 25, 2002
    • Jul 07, 2002
    • Apr 27, 2002
    • Mar 26, 2002
    • Feb 6, 2002
    • Nov 29 2001
    • Oct 16 2001
    • Oct 8 2001
    • Sep 8 2001
    • Jul 9 2001
    • May 11 2001
    • Apr 23 2001
    • Mar 10 2001
    • Jan 29 2001
    • Dec 17 2000
    • Nov 18 2000
    • Nov 05 2000
    • Sep 25 2000
    • Aug 26 2000
    • Jul 10 2000
    • May 29 2000
    • Apr 31 2000
    • Mar 21 2000
    • Feb 21 2000
    • Jan 14 2000
    • Dec 19 1999
    • Dec 1 1999
    • Nov 1999
    • Oct 7 1999
    • Sep 17 1999
    • Aug 29 1999
    • Aug 14 1999
    • Aug 01 1999
    • Jul 25 1999
    • Jul 06 1999
    • Jun 1999
    • May 1999
    • Mar 1999
    • Feb 1999

Garry Smith FishTalk Tune in to ABC Radio's Garry Smith at his FishTalk web site for more local fishing news.

October 10, 2007

ILLUSIVE BARRA......PLEASE EXPLAIN!!!

It’s tough to find time off at our busiest trading period but Terry Holman, Les Marsh and I organised our Lakefield trip months in advance to coincide with the best moon phase.....the first quarter to the full during September. The spot was chosen after discussing a trip at a similar time the previous year when Terry latched on to 100 plus barra in five days fishing. Now you’d think that we’d be in for a field day, but as we all know barra can be as pedantic as Elton John at a press conference and as things unfolded we had to put every ounce of fishing prowess into play.

The first downside was that Les couldn’t make the trip due to work commitments, ( but as you’ll see later he was there in spirit), so my son Matthew stepped in to make up the team.....he didn’t take too much persuading! The weather was picture perfect as we made our way to one of this country’s most beautiful National Parks...even our late arrival at 8-00p.m. didn’t dampen our enthusiasm. The camp was set by 10-00pm and we were chomping at the bit for an early start the next morning.


Casting to waterlilles with the sun at its peak produced a few barra.

A decent barra taken on a small
deep diving lure from a rock bar.

Todays campers have it so easy! Engel fridge freezers, generators, flouro lights, quick pitch tents, and on this camp we even had Terry’s own design camp oven for easy cooking. Our 3.5 metre barra punt was loaded with features such as a Humminbird Sounder, electric outboard, swivel seats, under gunwhale rod holders etc. I well remember the days when we pitched a swag under the stars...pierced cans of beans and chucked them on the fire and used oars to get around in our 3 metre bush tinnie. How times have changed...and for the better!

Terry noticed that the waterhole was a good metre lower than the previous year and snags were showing well above the waterline that usually held a few fish. The water was also murky and more discoloured......do barra really mind? We were soon to find out as our first casts to bankside snags produced zilch. We worked the entire length and breadth of the hole using small deep divers such as Rapala Shadraps and RMG Scorpions without raising a fish! One thing we soon realised was that the barra weren’t in the snags along the bank and plan B. was to begin trolling deep divers like the Classic Pro Alternative 12+ and Manns Boof Baits. The deepwater snags looked good and fish were there but lying ‘doggo’ as our lures brushed over them.


Terry (L) with a barra trolled up from the middle of the water hole.

Livebait will catch good sized barra like this, but for the author it’s always a last resort.

We started ‘ripping’ our rattling lures as they were slowly trolled over these fish riddled snags in an effort to ‘wake ‘em up’ and it eventually happened as I hooked into a good sized barra from a snag 3 metres deep. One jump.....he was on and running but the fight was lethargic and I soon had him beside the boat....a fish of around 75 to 78 cms. Looking to be in good condition his silver colouring told us that he had only been in the isolated hole since last wet season, and had been feeding well. But why so lethargic???

As the day progressed we noticed the water temperature creep up to 29.5 degrees, from a low of 24.5 degrees. This combined with the lower water level was probably the reason barra were so lethargic.......so how could we persuade them to chew?

Over a few beers back at camp that night we mulled it all over and by a process of elimination figured out a game plan for the rest of the week. In river systems, and overflows / lagoons formed by dry season conditions barra feed in several areas depending on water temperature and atmospheric pressure. If the water gets too warm they will often find a cooler ‘thermocline’, ( band of water that is deeper), and conversely when the water temp. is cooler they will often find shallower waters that have been heated up by the sun....or rock bars in fairly shallow areas that retain heat.

There are basically five different options when fishing the still waters of Lakefield, or similar wetlands, later in the season:-

  • FISH THE TIMBER SNAGS THAT ARE CLOSE TO THE BANK USING SHALLOW DIVERS, OR DEEPER DIVERS AS THE SUN WARMS THE WATER.
  • TROLL THE FIRST DROP –OFF USING MID WATER DIVERS...SEARCHING FOR ROCK BARS AND DEEP TIMBER SNAGS THAT HOLD FISH.
  • TROLL THE MIDDLE OF THE WATER HOLES USING DEEP DIVERS...AGAIN LOOKING FOR STRUCTURE THAT HOLDS FISH.
  • LIVEBAIT ANY OF THE ABOVE USING CHERUBIN ...MAKING SURE YOUR FLOAT IS SET SO THAT THE LIVEBAIT IS CLOSE TO THE BOTTOM.
  • SET OFF AT FIRST LIGHT, ( OR MID TO LATE AFTERNOON), AND WALK THE BANKS USING SHALL TO MID WATER DIVERS. YOU WILL COVER A LOT OF COUNTRY DOING THIS AND HOPEFULLY FIND HUNGRY FISH.

Another good tip is to cast to the shadows as the day progresses and the sun nears its peak. Barra often find cover in shady places as the water temp. increases.

For the next four days we practiced all of the above and found fish, although in small quantities, using these techniques. They were lazy and not really feeding, but, with persistence we managed to rack up around 40 barra over the five days. Many of them were undersize however the bigger they were the less active they were.

A couple of other highlights of the trip, in addition to the good company and mateship were seeing Matthew put a big effort into setting and checking his cherubin traps. It’s best to set them just before dusk using ‘Goodo’ dog biscuits as bait.....they just can’t resist these! I t was a pity to have to use some of the bigger ones for livebait but when we caught fish up to 76 cms. it was a fair trade.

The other buzz came when Terry and I decided to chase small tarpon and archerfish using mini Japanese made minnows, and of course Terry took his fly rod to try some ‘swishing’. Both methods worked and we caught a swag of theses feisty predators, something we wouldn’t normally try. I had to laugh when Terry hooked a small croc on his fly. He was working it through some water lilies chasing tarpon when the surface erupted and this metre long mini croc was hooked. Taking him on a ten metre run it was the best scrap of the day......until I was the bunny who had to try and get his fly back. These little buggers have razor sharp teeth and Terry, who wanted his fly back more than I did, grabbed it behind the head...took out his fly....kissed it and let it go. What a legend!


Good on yer Les……you made
a great scarecrow!

Archerfish using small lures
and light spin gear are always
good fun

A typical barra for the trip that fell to a deep diving lure trolled on the edges.

I’m sure many of you reading this article have had similar experiences at Lakefield when the fishing just ‘shuts down’, and hopefully these few tips may help you to find a few willing barra.

PS: Les Marsh, who couldn’t make the trip, ended up being re-created with the help of a rake...a shirt, cap and a couple of cardboard cutouts for his face and legs. Those dam crows wrecked our camp the first day so this effigy ended up being a great scarecrow which we nicknamed ‘Les’. Good on yer mate!

Keith Graham
Bransfords Tackle



HomeTopBack     › Fishing Reports



Home | Fishing Styles | Target Species | Fishing Localities | Reports | Tackle | Fishing Charters | Accommodation | Enquiries | Contact

Ph: 0448 563 586 : Email: info@fishingcairns.com.au

Terms And Conditions | Privacy Policy | Web Site By Port Douglas Internet