John Campbell

Barra Fishing Guide And ABT Tournament Angler

John grew up in the area and has been barramundi fishing the Bowling Green Bay and Burdekin system for his whole life. He’s also fished the ABT circuit and as a professional sportfishing guide has helped thousands of others in their quest to catch a Barramundi in his part of the world.


 JC’sTop Barramundi Fishing Tips

  • Barramundi fishing is a year-round option for the rivers and creeks in the Bowling Green Bay Area (excluding closed season, of course). During the Autumn to Winter months John recommends focussing on the larger river systems such as the Haughton River, Sheep Station Creek and Major Creek.
  • River and creek systems around Bowling Green Bay have oxbows, wetlands and the like that are all interconnected when a decent wet season happens. This is very unusual for Queensland’s east cost streams and favours barramundi recruitment.
  • John recommends fishing the neapish tides and trying to find low tides that occur in the middle of the day if you’re new to the area, which will ensure you’re coming home on an incoming tide and less likely to become stranded on the extensive mudflats at the mouths of many of the creeks in the area.
  • It’s a mistake to always focus on the deep bends or the biggest snags in the system. Better to focus on looking for places when the current hits the bank at right angles and changes on the banks from mangrove to grass or vice versa that also extend below water.
  • Use your side scan sonar to look for aggregations of fish. John prefers to find smaller schools, rather than put too much effort into larger schools of fish, especially as the latter often have multiple boats on them and the fish can be skittish and pressured. John hasn’t found any reliable indicators from his sonar that
  • Starting with a hard body first and running it over the structure allows the angler to take actively feeding fish without the risk of getting snagged. If fish don’t respond, switch to a small soft plastic and work it closer to the structure. If they still don’t respond, get in their faces with a soft vibe. And if they still don’t respond, find another school and repeat this process!
  • John hasn’t noticed particular tides or conditions that fish better than others and recommends spending time on the water whenever you can and figuring out what’s working on the day.

John’s Barramundi Fishing Tackle

  • A 7’ spin rod such as an Edge First Strike 704 with a 3000 size Shimano Stradic, 30lb Torah braid and a 50lb Toray fluorocarbon leader is the standard gear that John hands to his guided clients.
  • For those like John who prefer baitcast gear, a 6’6” Black Widow rod, Shimano Curado 200, 30lb Torah braid and 50lb Toray fluorocarbon leader is the go-to combo.
  • Leader sizes might vary depending on the conditions, structure and size of the fish.

John’s top Barra Fishing Lures

  • John like to start with a Jackall Squirrel 79mm suspending lure that dives to round 10 feet. He works this through structure with ‘twitch, twitch, pause” action, with short, aggressive twitches and pauses of 2-3 seconds typically, but up to 8-9 seconds at times. On the pause it’s important to “mend” the line, keeping just enough belly in the line that the implosion of a barra can suck the lure into its mouth, but not so much that a bite can go undetected, it’s important to strike at bites and John recommends simply reeling fast for a few winds, rather than lifting the rod tip. This lure passes over the fish and gives the more active ones an opportunity to take it without the risk of spooking less active fish or getting hung up in a snag.
  • If the Squirrel doesn’t get a fish then John switches to a 3.5” Castaic paddle tail soft plastic. This lure can be sunk deeper into the structure (snags, changes in bottom type, pressure points etc). John works it slowly with occasional pauses and notes that it has a strong wobble and tail action even at slow speeds.
  • If the soft plastic lure doesn’t work John switches to a soft vibe. He reckons that any good quality vibe will work at times, but when the fishing is tough he prefers the 95mm, 20g Jackall Transam. This lure can be fished close to bottom in clear water but can also be fished through timber by switching the hooks to 3x strong VMC trebles. Rather than the standard, relatively large hops typically used to work these lures for Barra, John like to keep the lure closer to the structure by keeping the rod tip low and winding fast for a few turn, then pausing. There re lots of other ways to work these lures though, especially away from snags, so experiment with the lure to maximise strikes.

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JC’s Guided Sportfishing

John offers single and multi-day guided fishing packages in the Bowling Green Bay and Burdekin systems with accommodation, meals and tackle included. He can be contacted via Facebook, Instagram, his website or by phone on 0438 753 382.

JC’s Sponsors

Fish-Tec Solutions are an Australian company that imports high-end fishing tackle and accessories, including the Edge Rods, Toray Lines and Castaic Soft Plastic Lures Used by John and his clients.

Mercury Marine are Johns preferred supplier of outboard and trolling motors for his guiding operation.


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