So catching the big one is high on the list of any keen angler and in the NT the barramundi is the prize!
Renowned for its clean, buttery flavour and it’s succulent texture, the barramundi is quite a highly sort after fish up in the NT. Once you have caught a 1-metre barra, you might as well call yourself a Territorian.
Here are our 5 top tips on catching the big one:
1. Choose when you visit the top end:
From January to mid-March is where monsoonal rain re-invigorates the NT. The tropical showers fill and expand the floodplains, linking landlocked billabongs with the main rivers. Fishing during the wet season can be rewarding along the floodplain channels where barra usually feed although it can take a little time hunting.
Between March and April, as the tropical rain dissipates and the water drains out to sea, the floodplains and billabongs return back to normal. The run-off season is the considered to be the best season for barra fishing. As the water levels fall, you’ll find the barra exiting through the creek mouths into the main river. Here at the creek mouth, you’ll find the best spot to catch the prized barramundi as they feed on small fish, tadpoles and other crustaceans also exiting into the river.
From May to September expect clear blue skies and the opportunity to bask in the majestic NT sunset. The dry season can be the perfect time to fish for barra, especially in the big blue tidal rivers, coastal mangrove estuaries and creeks alongside the billabongs.
From October to December, the build up to the monsoonal season can produce ideal fishing conditions. Along with saltwater estuaries and the lower tidal river, rainfall and cloudy skies fires the barra into action. This time of year is the breeding season which brings out big female fish and smaller mature fish around creek mouths and estuaries.
2. Choose your location: tinny, side of the river, charter boat…
Well, this is really a personal choice, but for Territorian’s boating is the preferred option. Nothing beats hitching up the boat on the back of the ute and heading out for a 2-hour journey to your favourite river. Boating also gives you access to those hard to get to locations.
The side of a river is an option if you are good at casting. Beware, though, the NT’s waterways are not only home to the barramundi, but also the Crocodile and their best vantage point is half water – half land. Ensure you stand in a safe location and be aware of your environment.
If the thought of coordinating your own fishing expedition is too much, or you are visiting from out of town, then there are plenty of great fishing charters available and a well-experienced fishing guide should be able to take you straight to the best locations. At least with a charter, the boat, lures, tackle and valuable fishing intel is all provided.
Wildman Wilderness Lodge provides a 2-hour fishing experience for up to 3 people on the Home Billabong, where our most recent catch measured a whopping 85cm. This 2-hour experience is the perfect amount of time to enjoy an outing on the water and plenty of casting. If you catch one, we will even fillet and cook it for you at dinner time. For details, link here.
3. Select the right lure:
These days there are so many barramundi lures available to anglers. You have your soft bodies, hard bodies and surface lures which come in many different colours and sizes. With fishing conditions always changing in the NT, you should choose one suited to the conditions, just ask a local for an opinion on this one!
Here are a couple of local fishing shops to check out where you can purchase your essential fishing gear:
4. Listen to Tales from the Tinny:
Tales from the Tinny, an ABC production and surely the funniest, but strangely most useful insight you will get. Listen here.
5. Register for the Million Dollar Fish!
Australia’s world renowned fishing competition ‘Million Dollar Fish’ is only in the NT. Take to the waters and try your luck in finding the elusive million dollar Barramundi, along with 75 other Barramundi which can earn you a hefty $10,000 each.
The Million Dollar Fish competition is an annual event between October and February. For information go the Million Dollar Fish Website .
A Few Extra Tips
Don’t swim in the waterways, or stand in or near the water – crocs like barra but they like people more.
Always take water, mosquito repellent and sunscreen – but don’t get the second two on your fishing line, the fish can smell it and they don’t like it.
Check out the rules as there are plenty about where you can fish and what you can and can’t keep. Rest assured the waterways are monitored, so don’t get caught out as there are also serious penalties for infringements.
And don’t forget to grab yourself a copy of the NAFA magazine, Northern Australia’s authority on all things fishing in the Northern Territory.
Most of all have fun, and good luck catching ‘the big one’!