Barramundi: Info, Tips & Where To Catch

Barramundi (aka Barra) are one of the most sought after fish in Western Australia, Northern Territory and throughout the top end of Queensland.

Barramundi caught at Barramundi fishing adventures darwin

They are a great-tasting, healthy, and sustainable to eat. There is some difficulty in catching Barra though if you read the below info and follow some of these simple tips, you will be well on your way!

Catching Barra in the Ord River Kununarra, Western Australia

About Barramundi

Barramundi are a magnificent icon fish species inhabiting throughout the top end of Australia, ranging from northern Western Australia, across Northern Territory and over to Queensland.

Barramundi can reside in both saltwater and freshwater and occupy many of the tropical waterways throughout the top end of Australia. You can often tell if a barra has been predominantly living in freshwater or saltwater based on their colours. Freshwater barra are slightly greener with black to dark brown tail fins, whilst saltwater barra have more yellow fins with a lighter, more slivery body.

How big do Barramundi get?

Australian barramundi can grow up to a whopping 2m and up to 60kg is size.

Little do many know that when barramundi reach a certain size that actually change sex from being a male to a female. This usually occurs in excess of 8kg, therefore most of the large Barramundi caught a big females.

What was that “Boof” noise?

This was the first thing I asked a local fishing guide when I was out helifishing for barramundi in Darwin. Little did I know that when barramundi are on the hunt and try to inhale and eat bait fish they make an almighty ‘boof’ sound… this is the sound of their mouth quickly sucking through the water and chomping hard down on the unlucky baitfish they’re targeting.

Therefore, if you’re out fishing for barra and hear a boof sound under the water or near baitfish you can be sure that’s one hungry barra looking for a feed!

How to catch Barramundi

Barramundi can be caught using a number of different techniques including trolling, casting and bait fishing.

Fishing the run off with helifish

The most popular technique is ‘trolling’ which involves using a lure of some type, or a bait, to attract and hook the barramundi.

However for those that like the challenge spot casting for barramundi using soft plastics and lures is awesome fun!

Best rod, reel and line for Barramundi?

When I fish for barramundi I always opt for a bait caster setup. I usually fish with a 6 foot rod and a shimano reel the same as the setup below. When it comes to line I run 30lb braid and a 55lb mono leader.

Bait casting rods ideal for Barramundi fishing

Best lures to use for Barramundi?

Depending where I’m fishing and the style of fishing I’m doing will impact the lure to use. If I’m trolling for barramundi I like to use a bib type lure similar to the below.

Bib based lure for Barramundi fishing

However, if I spot casting for barramundi amongst creeks and snags then soft plastics are my preferred lure.

Ideal soft plastic to use when fishing for Barramundi

I usually do pretty well with white lures such as above, or sometimes I try different colours such as below if their not on the bite.

Different types of soft plastic lures used for Barramundi

When it comes to retrieval techniques I’ve found the best method is try to mimic an injured bait fish. Retrieve slowly with gently twitches along the way. If you see a barra approaching your lure of plastic then increasing the retrieval or twitch rate can be the key to lure it take a strike!

Note, when tying your lures on I’d recommend tying the mono direct to the lure without any type of swivels in between as this will ensure the lure swims as it’s designed to.

Best bait for Barramundi?

By far the best bait I’ve used when fishing for barramundi is mullet.

Small mullet baitfish scared for their lives
Mullet bait balls being chased onto the shore by barramundi

As you can see in the video below mullet often school up in shallow areas of estuaries and waterways.

These schools or mullet attract all different types of species with barra being one of them.

Where you find a school of mullet the big barramundi won’t be far away, often lurking on the edges of the schools waiting to strike.

Where can you catch Barramundi?

In Western Australia, you can find barramundi north from Exmouth upwards, however they are most abundant in the Kimberley region. Further north barramundi are also found throughout the Northern Territory, all the way over to the north of Queensland.

Barramundi can live in freshwater or saltwater and they can be found in coastal waters and freshwater waterways such as estuaries, streams, rivers, lakes and billabongs. In areas such as remote Northern Territory you’ll find barra in the spots that you wouldn’t expect – for example, check out this barramundi being pulled out of a small creek up near Darwin:

Nice Barramundi caught in a small creek in the Northern Territory whilst on a helifishing charter

Below are some well known fishing spots for catching Barramundi broken down by state:

Western Australia

Within Western Australia, you only find barramundi from the Exmouth gulf upwards. Below are some well know WA locations for catching barra:

  • Ord River
  • Lake Kununurra (East Kimberley)
  • Estuaries and tidal flats in and around Broome
  • Derby

Northern Territory

If you’re keen to catch some Barramundi in the Northern Territory then here are some spots that are worth checking out;

Daly River fishing spot in Darwin
Daly River is a well known spot for producing some amazing barramundi
  1. Daly River
  2. Adelaide River
  3. Mary River / Shady Camp
  4. Corroboree Billabong
  5. Leaders Creek
  6. Dundee
  7. Vernon Islands
  8. Finnis River
  9. Darwin Harbour
  10. Bynoe Harbour
  11. South Alligator River
  12. The Roper River
  13. Arnhemland

When is the best time to fish for Barramundi?

There are two factors to consider when fishing for Barramundi, one is the time of the year and the other is the tide.

Time of Year

Barra can be caught all year round in Western Australia, but there are certain times of the year that are recommended for catching Barra. For example, the warmer months such as January or December have temperatures that are more favourable for catching Barramundi.

If you’re in the Northern Territory then the “run off” after the wet season is a prime time to target big Barramundi moving up the estuaries looking for a feed after breeding.

The “run off” usually occurs around around March to April each year by where the monsoonal rains dump massive amounts of water across the flood plains which builds up and runs off into the surrounding waterways and estuaries.

Aerial view of the wet season fishing locations in darwin
Aerial footage of the rains filling the flood plains in NT
Hunting for Barramundi in the run offs near Darwin
Waterways where the excess water flows into and where the Barra move up through looking for a feed

The change of the Tides

In additional to the time of the yeah tides also play a big factor when fishing for Barramundi. Depending on where you’re fishing for Barra the change of the tide (usually low to high fishing) is when large volumes of water can enter an estuary of a tidal flat allowing Barra to move in and target any bait fish of other food sources that have been taking rest in the shallows.

The above video provides some insight of how the tidal runs can impact your barra fishing

Barramundi Fishing Charters

There are a number of great Barramundi fishing charters operating out of both Western Australia and the Northern Territory. If you’re heading to Northern Territory then I personally recommend doing a charter Helifish charters towards the end of the wet season (March-April).

Although it can be expensive, I had a fantastic time and their pilots are great not only at flying the choppers though also putting you onto some fantastic Barra!

Keen to see Barra in action?

Take a look at the below Barra videos to see these amazing fish in action!

More information

If you’re looking for more information on Barramundi check out the links below:

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