Karim De Ridder
Barramundi Tournament Angler
Karim has been extremely successful on the Barramundi Tournament scene in recent years, having won multiple ABT Team of the Year awards with teammate Craig Griffiths. The pair have also won the last two Barra Classic tournaments and have a string of tournament wins up and down the Queensland coast. Karim has lived his life in the wet tropics region and knows the barra fishing in that part of Australia extremely well.
Karim’s Top Tips For Wet Tropics Barra
- The Wet Tropics boats a lot of small to medium-sized river systems. Unlike other parts of Australia, these systems tend to be short with very limited floodplains and tend to punch out a lot of freshwater during the wet season. The barra in these systems are less prevalent than than the larger river systems in other parts of the country, but tend to be larger, with 90-120cm fish very common.
- Look for areas where there is deep water access with good current flow and plenty of baitfish and the barra won’t be far away. Once you figure one of these systems out, the basic strategies are generally the same across all systems.
- It’s a mistake to focus too much on one style of lure, to consistently catch barramundi in the Wet Tropics (and anywhere else) you need to know how to fish hard bodies, soft plastics, vibes and other lure styles.
- “No run, no fun” doesn’t apply so much in the Wet Tropics, the periods of lower tidal flow around the neaps tend to fish better. On the bigger tides the fishing can be better on the flats or around the headlands than the estuaries. Flats fish tend to be a smaller size class.
- Barra can be caught all year round (being mindful of the closed season), but the best times of year are late August until the season close in November and from the Season opening in February until the first cold snap.
- Stable weather patterns and stable flows fish the best. Look for periods where there are a few clear, warm days during the cooler months and the barra will become more active. After periods of heavy flow the fishing can be good a bit further upstream, especially around the mouths of cane drains and so on. Further down the river it’s best to wait until the flows settle and the salt comes back into the estuary.
- For newcomers to the Wet Tropics the larger systems tend to be more consistent and easier to work out.
- Lunar cycles are important for picking the bite windows. Moon above and moon below, sun up and sun down generally fish best. Fishing early in the day before the boat traffic disturbs the fish is a good strategy.
- If barra are marking on the sounder but you’re struggling to get a bite, roll through the lures that Karim has recommended (below) and give them maybe 15 casts using different retrieves. If that doesn’t work, go looking for another school or fish some different structure, then come back on a different tide and try again.
Karim’s Barra Tackle Selection
- Karim mostly uses Edge rods in the 7ft range but uses a 6’6″ rod with a medium ratio Daiwa baitcast reel for his hard body lure fishing.
- A 705 Black Widow cast with a high retrieve ratio Daiwa baitcaster for throwing vibes and weedless plastics.
- A light 7′ spin stick with a 3000 size Shimano Stella is used for smaller lures
- A heavier 7′ or 7′ 6″ Swim Bait rod with a medium retrieve reel for rolling the bigger, heavier styles of lure.
- Karim uses 30lb braid, the main thing to look for is a quality braid that’s good around rocks and logs.
- Leaders are quality 40-80lb fluorocarbon, a little less than a rod length and joined to the braid with an FG knot for smooth casting. Karim likes to use Mustad Fastach lure clips so that he can roll through the lures in his box until he finds what’s working.
Karim’s Top Barra Lures
- Karim likes vibration baits such as the Jackall Transam and the Madness Shiriten Vibe. He finds the latter works better than most lures when there is a current and will often catch fish when other vibes aren’t producing. Vibes are fished with gentle hops across the bottom during the cooler periods or when fish are less active. When the water is warmer and fish are active a bigger, double hop does the job.
- The Castaic Jerky J Paddle Tail in 5″ or 7″ sizes. These are split belly lures, allowing the angler to fish them with different jig heads and weights. Depending on the depth and flow, Karim will often fish the 7″ Jerky J on a 7/0 hook with a 1/2 to 1oz jig head. The 5″ lure can be rigged lighter on a 5/0 or 6/0 hook and 3/8 to 1/3 oz jig head. These can be worked in a similar way to the vibes, but Karim usually finds the best approach is to slow roll them so that they make regular contact with the bottom.
- The larger sizes of Zerek Live Shrimp in natural colours is Karims final lure choice and can be fish as-is, straight from the packet with or without a small ball sinker on the line in front. A stinker hook can be added to the bend of the worm hook if desirable or the hook van be removed and replaced with a jig head, especially for open water with less snags.
BLA Australia are Humminbird and Minn Kota distributors. Karim rates his Humminbird sounder as the most important piece of barra fishing tech he owns, and his Minn Kota electric motor as a close second.
Fish-Tec Solutions are importers of high-end American and Japanese tackle that’s hand selected for Australian conditions. Karim uses their Edge rods extensively but also favours the Madness vibration baits and Castaic 5″ and 7″ Jerky J swims as his preferred barra lures for the Wet Tropics.
Barra Jacks Tackle in Rockhampton has supported Karim’s fishing and tournament activities for many years and carry a wide range of tackle and lures for all styles of fishing.