Trolling For Barramundi With Lures

An article by Keith Graham from Bransfords.

It’s amazing how lure fashions change! Last years ‘gun’ lure is this years ‘has been’, or are we just being a little too pedantic?

I think we all get a bit carried away with colours, size and shape as what really counts is the action of the lure and the depth you can work it at. I’ll now add another dimension to this equation and that’s ”How many rattles does it have and just how LOUD are they”.

My son Matthew and I have been getting into trolling a fair bit, mainly in an attempt to target bigger fish, barra in particular. Many lessons have been learned along the way especially at what depth we find fish at various times of the year and/or various tides/moon phases. Rules change in the freshwater reaches of our rivers and estuaries so I’ll not confuse this issue and pass on these tips specifically relating to Salt Water only. You’ll be surprised how much your catch rates will improve by applying these innovative tactics with the RIGHT lures.

Trolling for Fingermark can be really productive leading up to the cooler months. This 5 kilo specimen was taken by Adam White trolling a JJ extra deep diver – his favourite lure

An average barra for the day taken by Matthew Graham using a Killalure Barr Bait 20+

A recent trip to Karumba to fish with Adam White was a real eye opener! The tides were perfect for targeting barra and fingermark as we made our way upstream in the Norman River. A slow run in ensured the water colour wasn’t too cloudy and the wind was less than 5 knots. Long sweeping banks indicated deeper water and the small bays had baitfish ‘flicking’ – the scene was set!

A dummy run just using your sounder is a good move in these situations as it allows you to check the average depth, (so you can assess which lures to use), and mark any rock/snag piles that are holding fish. If you havn’t got a G.P.S. take a mental note of the bankside vegetation so you can best work out your ‘trolling line’. Adam did just this and we were surprised to see a number of good fish marking on his sounder. Matthew and I were chomping at the bit to get our lures in the water but settled down to make the time to check out the rest of the run.

As the tide was running in the feeding barra were likely to be on the upstream side of the snags, holding on the upside of the current out of the flow (lazy buggers they are) – so we began our first troll upstream. This way we were placing our lures on their noses, or this was our logic anyway.

We chose lures that would get down from 3.5 metres to 6.5 metres. Not a difficult task these days with the advent of braided lines. The 40 lbs. Amnesia Braid we were all using is only .33mm, which is the equivalent of only 6 kilo mono line so there is very little resistance from the current and you can work your lures down well over what the manufacturer states on the packet. It’s a question of how much line you let out and what angle you hold your rod. Adam tied on a JJ extra deep diver, which can easily get down to 24 feet, Matthew tied on a Killalure Barrabait 20 footer and I attached a Classic Pro Alternative 12 footer that has rattles from hell (about 50 balls in the chamber that would wake the dead).

The first few trolls produced zip…not even a touch. Then on a downcurrent troll I got whacked just after my lure tripped against the rocks. How often does this happen when you’re trolling? Your lure hits the snag/rocks making a commotion, wakes up a barra and he climbs all over it. This fella was only around 65 cms and gave me a few good jumps and runs before being netted and then released.

The going was slow until Adam decided to slow the troll when our lures were passing over the rocks/snags. At the same time we ‘ripped’ our lures like fury to stir the boys up. (Note. Ripping is when you aggressively move your rod forwards so as to make your lure go a bit ‘crazy’). Matthew latched on to another average sized fish, then Adam, then it was my turn again. They were full of fight and their colour was almost a ‘liquid chrome’ – brilliant!

The author with his best barra of the day caught on a Classic Pro Alternative Rattler 12’, a lure that accounted for 7 barra in the one session.

Adam with his consolation barra trolled up whilst manoeuvring between two dead timber trunks he nicknamed ‘the goalposts. A few minutes earlier he hooked, then lost a horse

The afternoon wore on and we had a few more captures but it seemed that my ‘crazy rattler’ was doing the best job. As the barra were a bit lethargic the super loud rattles seemed to be attracting more attention. This wasn’t the first time this lure had outperformed others when the fishing was a little slow, it happened at Lakefield, and on the Daintree River too!

Another feature of this futuristic lure is the ‘wings’ it has on it’s sides. These protrusions help the lure to shake and wiggle even at the slowest speeds and often anglers troll too fast to tempt fish that are not really interested. On these occasions the slower the troll the better it seems to work!

By late afternoon we had moved further upstream plying the same tactics and caught a steady stream of fish. Adam lost a doozie, a barra he estimated to be well over 15 kilos. It was one of those on/off situations where the fish grabbed the lure, took a long run then spat it out. His concellation was a plump 4 kilo barra that he hooked whilst trolling between two dead tree uprights that he nicknamed ‘the goalposts’.

Five hours trolling produced 12 barra ranging in size from 2.5 kilos to 5 kilos, a good effort bearing in mind they were not really on the chew. Our Shake Rattle Roll tactics did the business and we all learned a little more ‘barra craft’.

The Classic Pro Alternative is available in both 8’ and 12’ divers and the colours used on the day were the metallic gold and metallic blue versions, although any colours in the range I feel would have done the same job. Adam’s favourite is the JJ extra deep diver in metallic gold and the other favoured trolling lure for many anglers is the Killalure Barra Bait +20’.

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