Matt Hildebrandt Profile

Matt Hildebrandt

Sponsored Angler

Matt is a high profile central Queensland angler who loves all kinds of northern lure fishing, but particularly Southern Saratoga and quality barramundi. He’s been very successful fishing Fairbairn Dam for oversized and overweight barra.

Matt’s Top Tips For Fairbairn Barra


  • Finding and casting to impoundment barra isn’t too difficult. What’s tricky is figuring out the moon phases, weather conditions and other factors that make it worth your while trying. Barra can be temperamental, so keep a diary and look for patterns that indicated bite windows. You can spend days on fish without getting a bite, but Matt’s fishing trips coincide with peak times and are typically only a few hours at a time.
  • Wind is your friend. Barra tend to congregate in areas the wind is blowing into as water is more oxygenated and food is stirred up by wave action. Glassed out days fish ok too, but winds of up to 10 knots make fishing easier. On days where the wind gets to 15 knots or more it’s not safe to fish Fairbairn and the fish seem to shut down in any case.
  • Moon phases and tide changes (even though the impoundment is not tidal) usually correspond with good fishing opportunities. Again, keep a diary and look for patterns.
  • Look for funneling points. These are areas where barramundi patrol during the feeding/bite windows and may be ledges or other structures that hold bait and are receiving wind. Barra will do laps of these areas while they are feeding.
  • To find fish, start by looking for points that the wind is blowing onto or bays it’s blowing into. Matt catches fish in all depths of water, but 2-5m is a good starting point on most occasions (slightly deeper during summer).
  • There’s plenty of timber structure in Fairburn Dam, but Matt suggests not fishing it as it’s hard to get fish out and there are plenty to be caught in more open water.
  • There is very little weed in Fairburn Dam due to the usually dirty water, but there are lots of contours, ledges and deep holes to hold barra.
  • Don’t be put off by the dirty water in Fairbairn Dam, it’s just the nature of this storage. Barra do extremely well there and don’t have any problems finding or taking lures.

Matt’s Tackle Recommendations

  • Because he focuses his efforts on the clearer water away from structure, Matt can get away with relatively light gear for the size of his quarry. A 10-17 lb line class baitcast or spin rod with matching reel loaded with 20lb braid is sufficient to land most fish. A 50-80lb leader helps prevent abrasion and the lure is attached with a Lefty’s loop knot.

Matt’s Best Barra Lures

  • 5-6” Paddle Tail soft plastic lures that have a slow action with plenty of wobble such as 6th Sense Core Wrap, Devine, Squidgies Slick Rigs, Happy Rock Soft Plastics, Keitech Swinging Fat and Ricks Fish On Plastic all work well. Weight them as light as possible, Matt ranges from unweighted to 1/2oz depending on the lure and water depth. TT Lures SnakelockZ and HeadlockZ jig heads or Owner Beast weedless jig heads in 6/0 to 7/0 sizes are a good option.
  • Sixth Sense Glide baits work extremely well on the barra in Fairburn Dam and are extremely versatile. They can be burned across the surface when the occasion warrants it, fished on a slow retrieve or weighted with a small ball sinker in the loop knot to fish them in 10ft or more of water.
  • Large swimbaits (100-200mm long) are also effective, being a good representation of the bony bream and small yellowbelly that are standard fare for FairBairn Barramundi.

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Jase Wilhelm's Impoundment Barra Mastery

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