Please select your home edition
Edition
Henri Lloyd

Cool water barra secrets

by Lee Brake on 9 Jul 2013
Headland flats are great water warmers and if you target drains as the water drops you can pinpoint feeding barra. Lee Brake
This week Lee Brake takes a look at how best to target barra during the transition period between winter and spring.

I'm not someone who only chases barra and believes all other species are bycatch. No, I'll admit that when the temperatures in the early morning are below 15 degrees, chances are that barra are the last thing on my mind. However, as the sun starts to get that comfortable and very familiar warmth in it again, I can't help but get a twitchy casting arm. It's at that stage that my brain goes into overdrive and I'll start venturing back into the fray. However, if you chase barra exactly how you always have throughout the year when it's still jumper-wearing weather, you'll more than likely strike out.

So let's get the bad news out of the way first! Barra don't feed hard when the water is less than about 24 degrees.

Whether their metabolism drops or they just feed less because they expend less energy in their cool water docility, I do not know, but the fact is that they will not be actively looking for a feed for much of the time.


The good news, though, is that they still need to eat and they still need to defend their territory. This means that if you can specifically target certain bite times and certain locations, you will still catch barra!

This means your aim as an angler is to put yourself in the barra's shoes... fins. Look for warm water and areas that represent an easy feed without the barra having to expend much effort. Drains dropping off flats are my personal favourite.


The open, black, muddy mangrove flats that exist near the mouths of many coastal estuaries are great natural, solar-powered water-warmers. When the shallow, warmer water – and the bait in it – from these flats then starts to recede via winding drains and gutters, the barra can simply sit where the drain drops off into deeper water and wait for not only a feed but a rejuvenating flow of warmer water.

However, in saying that though, remember that during this time of year barra aren't the eat-till-they-spew-and -then-keep-eating fish that they are through summer. Instead, they are eating to get by. To cater for this, your offering needs to be an easy feed. It needs to be easy to catch and easy to digest. It's the famous peanut effect – if you're full, you'll snack on a peanut but ignore the prime rump steak. You'll also probably only be tempted by said peanuts if they are sat in front of you; you're not going to go chase a bowl that's carried past you by a fleet-footed bar tender.


Barra are the same. Think small lures with lots of hang time. Suspending lures or lightly weighted plastics are ideal and try to stay around 8cm - 10cm in size. Just watch the quality of the terminal tackle, as few small lures come off the shelf with barra-grade hooks and split rings. Once you've picked the offering, work that drain mouth repeated and really focus on the strike zone area of the drop off with the slowest retrieve you can manage.


This brings me into the second trick, which pretty much balls down to p!$$ing them off! Barra are not super territorial fish like mangrove jack or sooty grunter, but they can and do get agro if provoked. As someone who has a fish tank, I've watched barra a lot and have noticed that they will normally hold in a structured area when not feeding. However, if a smaller tank mate gets too close, the barra will give them a push or bump to give them the hint to back off. If the fish keeps coming back, the barra will get more and more agro. This little observation works very well in the wild as well. If you just know that a barra should be in a snag, then simply by casting into its territory enough, you can turn bumps and touches into hook-ups. Notice I didn't say 'bites'. This is because often you'll jag hook these fed-up barra as they swipe at the annoying lure.


The other option is to head to the impoundments. Dams heat up faster than the wild, as the water doesn't circulate as much. Look for shallow bays that have the breeze blowing into them. This will often bring a slight rise in temperature and a rise in barra activity. Technique wise, smaller lures like frog imitations, 100mm soft plastic paddle tails and sub-surface stickbaits are top options. Unlike in wild, tidal waters though, the barra in impoundments seem to respond better to plenty of action, noise and water movement. Explain to me why barra will carve the water like tuna while chasing a soft plastic frog cranked at rooster-tailing speed across the surface on a winter's afternoon! I have no idea, but I've seen them do it repeatedly! The thing with dam barra is to look for warm water and then let the fish know your lure is there. Afternoons through till dusk are also best, as this is usually when the water is at its warmest.

Well, that's it from me for the week. I'm off to pack the boat. All this talk of barra has my casting arm shaking like I've just drank my body weight in Red Bull. See ya next week.

Kiwi Yachting - Lewmar 660 - 1Barz Optics - San Juan Worlds Best EyewearEnsign 660

Related Articles

Night patrol nets illegal abalone harvest
Three men leaving a Mornington Peninsula beach have allegedly been found in possession of 169 abalone Three men leaving a Mornington Peninsula beach have allegedly been found in possession of 169 abalone, of which more than one third were undersize.
Posted on 26 Sep
14m offshore fishing cat to be presented
A 14 metre, offshore-capable, game fishing catamaran design will be presented at this year’s Auckland on Water Boat Show A 14 metre, offshore-capable, game fishing catamaran design will be presented at this year’s Auckland on Water Boat Show. The boundary-pushing design is a collaboration between Kit Carlier Design and Stimson Yacht Design, who will exhibit together for the first time at the show, which runs from 29 September to 2 October, 2016.
Posted on 23 Sep
Optimal Trolling Speeds easy to achieve with Happy Troller
Even at their lowest throttle, sterndrives and outboards can rarely power a boat at an optimal trolling speed. Even at their lowest throttle, sterndrives and outboards can rarely power a boat at an optimal trolling speed. Many gamefish simply won't chase and strike at a lure that's moving too fast.
Posted on 22 Sep
Mercury - Save up to $1,250 on a cutting edge Mercury FourStroke
Australian boaters can now save up to $1,250 and enjoy the many benefits of a cutting edge Mercury FourStroke. Australian boaters - of all descriptions - can now save up to $1,250 and enjoy the many benefits of a cutting edge Mercury FourStroke.
Posted on 21 Sep
New Zealand Maritime radio channels set to change on 1 October
Before you head out on the water next summer there are some important maritime radio changes you need to know about. Before you head out on the water next summer there are some important maritime radio changes you need to know about. On 1 October 2016, New Zealand is changing some maritime VHF repeater channels, and NowCasting weather services, to make space for new international ship tracking and data services, and to make sure our VHF radio services are compatible with the rest of the world.
Posted on 20 Sep
Announcing the launch of the Simrad® GO9 XSE with radar capability
It has intuitive, multi-touch controls that smartphone and tablet users will instantly find familiar and easy to use. Packed full of features, it has intuitive, multi-touch controls that smartphone and tablet users will instantly find familiar and easy to use. Boaters can view charts, add waypoints and see key information on a large 9-inch screen.
Posted on 15 Sep
Fishers invited to free Murray ‘codference’
Freshwater fishers are being invited to Shepparton on Sunday 11 December for Victoria’s first ever Murray ‘codference’ Freshwater fishers are being invited to Shepparton on Sunday 11 December for Victoria’s first ever Murray ‘codference’ where they can learn about the health of our Murray cod fisheries, how to improve their fishing and how they can contribute to long term sustainability.
Posted on 14 Sep
New fisheries authority set to make a splash
A new legislation introduced to the Victorian Parliament to pave the way for new statutory authority to manage fisheries The Andrews Labor Government today introduced legislation to the Victorian Parliament to pave the way for a new statutory authority to manage fisheries state-wide.
Posted on 13 Sep
Honda Marine winner goes fishing with Andrew Symonds
Ben Jefferson, father of two from the Northern Territory recently won the trip of a lifetime. Ben Jefferson, father of two from the Northern Territory recently won the trip of a lifetime. Ben was lucky enough to experience some of Queensland’s best fishing spots and even knock back a few cold ones with cricket legend Andrew Symonds.
Posted on 12 Sep
New recreational boat upper deck capacity standards
American Boat and Yacht Council, has revised its “Boat Capacity” (H-5) standard for upper decks on recreational boats. The membership organization that sets safety standards for recreational boat design and manufacturing, the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), has revised its “Boat Capacity” (H-5) standard for upper decks on recreational boats. Upper decks are often referred to as the “fly bridge” or “upper helm.”
Posted on 10 Sep