The Barramundi, “Barra”, is a prized fish for fishermen all over the world. The NT is an amazing place to go after that next ‘big one’, and we’re going to share with you our best tips for catching a Barra right here in Katherine, Northern Territory.
The Barramundi is the ultimate predator fish and is an expert hunter of smaller prey fish species. The Barra hunts through ambush tactics. When the smaller bait fish least expects it – the Barra strikes. Understanding how a Barramundi hunts is pivotal to catching one.
Barramundi sit next to fast flowing water, usually preferring a back eddy or area of less turbulence, and wait for their prey to arrive. Smaller bait fish get swept up by fast currents. When they try to escape to the calmer water, the Barra is sitting there waiting for them.
That’s where you need to be.
During the wet season months (December - March) you’ll find Barra feeding all day (depending on the water level). During the dry season, the fish are a lot less active and your best bet is to find them in the early morning and late afternoon.
In the wet season water levels are up and the Barra are plentiful. You just need to watch the water levels around town. If the river is above 3 meters many of the best Katherine fishing spots will be inaccessible due to water running too fast and structures well and truly below the water line.
Look for times when the river is below 3 meters and still has some good flow – that’s when you want to be out there.
In the Katherine River the two main targets are Black Brim and Barramundi. Black Brim are a bit simpler – just throw out a hook and sinker with a piece of red meat and you’re good to go.
The Barra put up more of a challenge.
Fly fishermen have a term – “matching the hatch”. Basically, it means that your fly needs to match the bugs and insects that are hatching at the time. If your fly is a different size, colour or shape than the current natural prey of the fish you have no chance of a catch. If you “match the hatch”, your chances increase greatly.
The exact same concept applies to fishing Barramundi. When fishing Barramundi, instead of matching bugs and insects, you need to match the bait fish the Barra are stalking.
You need to match the bait fish in the river. That means smaller soft plastics and smaller hard bodies. No bigger than 100mm. The best colours to start with are:
Another great option is live bait. And, we mean LIVE bait - dead bait is generally no good.
Tip: Be careful that you aren’t using live baits and traps in a national park. This is illegal and can carry hefty fines.
You can catch smaller bait fish straight out of the river. The best way to do this is with a small hook (size 10 or 12) with a tiny bit of red meat. We quite often go down under the main high level bridge in town and catch 10 - 20 small bait fish in half an hour. These make great live bait for Barra fishing.
The two types of bait fish you generally want to go after are smaller Black Brim and Striped Grunter. Another tip here is to use a 7/0 Octopus Hook with a 2 inch float set about a meter above the hook.
If you have time to soak an opera house cherbin net you’ll increase your chances of catching a Barra. Cherbin are a massive “dinner bell” for Barramundi. Drop one into a structure or back eddy and hold on!
Generally, during or just after the wet season is the best time to go after the Barra. Catching them in the dry season is still possible, you just need to go hunting for the right spot as the water isn’t as deep or flowing fast.
The best local Katherine spots include:
We’ve detailed the best Katherine fishing spots to make your next trip out a successful one.