Top End Barramundi Specialist
Craig has developed something of a name for himself over the past five years fishing the top end. The Darwin-based fisho has been slamming the big silver fish, winning competitions and racking up plenty of meteries. In this episode Craig shares his tips for targeting Mary River barramundi!
Craig’s Top Barramundi Fishing Tips
- Mary River barramundi fishing is best when the water is clear. If there’s been strong winds for a week or so before you go fishing it’s likely the water will be dirty and the fishing poor. Likewise, big tidal movements stir the sediment, so neapish tides tend to have clearer water for longer, offering better fishing.
- Craig likes when a low tide occurs around 8-9am, allowing him to fish the last of the run in around dawn, then the run out. Barra fishing can be good around dawn and dusk regardless of the tides.
- The Mary fishes well in the build up period (October to December), but is best in the runoff, which can start as early as mid-February but varies depending on rainfall.
- Barramundi use the tidal currents to move in and out of the system, so rather than stay put and wait for fish to pass through, Craig likes to troll with the current. During the build-up he’ll start at the river mouth in the morning and will troll upstream with the tide, then troll back as the tide falls.
- Trolling speeds vary from 6-7 kilometres per hour up to 18 or so. It’s important to be moving faster than the tide so your lures dive and swim. Craig runs two barra lures on each side of the boat, one around 10-15m behind the boat and the other a further 10-15m behind. To avoid tangles, the rear lure is usually the larger and deeper diving of the two.
- Troll with the current, paying particular attention to both the inside and outside curve of river bends.
- If the fishing is tough, downsize your lures to small suspending minnows from Jackall or Lucky Craft and work them very slowly. Craig suggests finding fish and then putting the lure on their nose, then working it back in gentle 10cm pulses with a 10cm pause between each pulse.
Craig’s Preferred Barramundi Tackle
- Craig prefers baitcast tackle for his trolling and uses a 7’, 4-6kg Venom Rod, 30lb braid and 50lb leaders. Lots of other barra specialists fish heavier leaders but Craig rarely gets rubbed off on 50lb.
Craig’s Mary River Barra Fishing Lures
- A Bomber 16A or 17A in green or tiger lilly is a good option for shallow water fishing in 1m or so of water. This lure casts well and can be trolled too. When trolling, Craig will have one rod in the rod holder further back and a second one in his hand with the lure a little closer to the boat. He’ll work the second lure with occasional twitches, but nothing to frequent or too aggressive. When casting it’s best used with rips and pauses.
- Reidy’s Big B52 (13-14 cm) in Kryptonite or Tropical Thunder colours have caught more 90cm plus barra for Craig. He uses all sizes of this lure (ie from 7 to 20cm) but the Big B52 is good in the buildup.
- Reidy’s Renegade is a deadly big barra lure. In a couple of places on the Mary Craig has found that the tide is still running out at times when the tide chart shows it should be running in. He’s noticed that at these times the barra tend to feed closer to the bottom and that the deeper diving hard bodies will take quality barra even before the tide changes direction.
Craig is supported by Reidy’s lures, although he reckons their gear is perfect for big barra and that he was using it well before they started supporting him.
Lowrance Australia produce the high quality sonar that Craig can’t do without for this style of fishing.
Undertow Saltwater Apparel produce awesome fishing apparel and sponsor offshore tournaments along the east coast.