Freshwater Barra FishingJames Dainton
A recent sales trip up to North Queensland included a day on the water testing out a number of our different Balista models on Barra. Our initial research into the LED technology was carried out on Barramundi, the results were fantastic, however using the right lure for the scenario is still vital for getting the best out of the technology. The lures we were focussing on testing in this trip were the Firestorm 120 Shallow, the Trigger, Juggernaut 90 and S-pop. These 4 lures were the most suited to the river and billabong fishing that we were going to be doing.
The plan was to hit up a small-medium sized river around Townsville in the morning, and then venture into a Billabong later in the day. We launched the boat through a small sugar cane farm that Vinnie knew and we were fishing on first light. We started off surface fishing for Barra with one of us on the Hunchback crawler and the other on the S-Pop surface popper. The first hour was very quiet, we changed around our lures, I changed to a Trigger suspending minnow and Vinnie went to a Juggernaut 90 lipless crankbait. It didn’t take long for Vinnie to get whacked on the drop, unfortunately no hook up that time. The bank we were fishing had a fair drop off on it, sinking the Juggernaut on the edge of that drop off produced a number of fish over the next hour. Sinking the vibe into the strike zone was definitely producing the results, whilst getting some fish it was still a little quieter then what we were hoping.
When to use the Juggernaut 90 on barra – fishing drop offs is ideal for a lipless vibes, you can fish hard up against the drop off without pulling the lure too far away from the strike zone that you would expect with a diver. Fishing them hard up against timber and pile on’s is another handy technique, you can sink the lure right down next to the structure, the LED light in the tail will so often draw a strike when the fishing is quiet, it can push a fish just over the edge to bite when it may not otherwise.
A spot change was in order so we motored upstream for a few kilometres to get into skinnier waters and try our luck there. Still the fishing was quiet, with nothing to lose Vinnie changed back over to an S-Pop to see if we could stir the fish up a little, even if it resulted in a strike on my diving lure as a result of the commotion. Straight away bang off the top Vinnie landed a good Barra, a couple of quick happy snaps and we’re back into it again and bang there’s another fish hooked up off the surface, this time a Sooty Grunter, very interesting. I changed over to the S-Pop as well and over the next 2 hours we had around 20 surface strikes and landed around dozen Barra mid morning. An interesting point about the LED is that on a bright sunny day if you activate the light above water you can barely notice the LED. However in just half a foot of water the LED becomes highly visible, especially in dirty water. You can see here in this picture that in only a few inches of water in the middle of the day the LED is still vibrant and making a difference.
What a turn around it had been in the fishing, a combination of the fish coming on the bite as well as throwing exactly what they were after. By lunch time it was getting pretty warm and was time to pull the boat out, grab a feed and move onto the next spot.
Surface fishing with the S-pop – the 80mm S-pop is great on barra, mangrove jack’s, sooty’s and JP’s all hammer that LED off the top. As well as creating a loud blooping pop the lure has a holographic cut out from the cup face through to the gills, every time you pop the lure it sends a splurge of water and bubbles out the side, a great lure for generating numbers of strikes.
Upon arriving at the billabong the water level looked to have dropped at least a foot, it was very difficult to launch the boat and the quality of the water looked off as well, dirty and weed everywhere. It didn’t worry the fish though right from the get go they were all over our lures. I was willing to keep fishing the surface whilst Vinnie went with a Trigger fishing the gaps in the weed. When he had 3 barra into the boat in quick succession I thought it’s time for me to change over. I fished my trusty glimmer pink Trigger and got in on the action as well. As we were motoring up to another run of weed Vinnie warned me that the fish were particularly thick on this bend last time. We
got to the bend, anticipation was high, cast after cast but nothing was doing. Half away around the corner and a yelp from the front of the ‘Yep I’m on, good fish’ followed by ‘No its off! Get your lure in there’. I obliged and through my lure in and got monstered by a solid fish, both of us had been slammed but missed out.
Retrieves using the Trigger – One thing I like about the Trigger is the super slow buoyancy, you can crank the lure down next to structure like a weed bed and allow the lure to sit there flashing away. So many times whilst the lure is paused your lure will get hammered, I learnt that you have to be pretty quick I had felt a solid bump on my lure a few minutes before and hadn’t thought too much of it. After receiving an identical bump and hooking up I realised what seems like a short sharp bump is a barra enhaling the lure into its mouth and spitting it out, all in a split second. Another effective retrieve is the simple slow roll, as barra anglers we can get a bit carried away with working the hell out of the lure and quite often miss strikes as we work the lure just as they strike and they don’t strike the lure cleanly or if they do hit you on the pause you have to be good to strike and hook up a majority of those hits. Whereas with a slow roll when a barra strikes the lure the momentum that the lure has whilst swimming back to the boat makes it much more difficult for a barra to get the lure into its mouth and out without hooking up, the momentum gives you better hook up rates plus the consistent slow roll means the fish can line up your lure and hit it accurately.
I thought this is the time to crack out a bigger profile so I tied on the Firestorm 120 Shallow. I love this lure for barra, especially in dirty water the amount of times it has produced I was feeling confident we could stir a good fish up. I put a cast up in between a clump of 3 different weedbeds and WHACK, this Barra thumped me. This fish had huge shoulders on it well and truly over a metre was swimming just under the surface, I held on for dear life but a quick burst towards the boat left me unable to retrieve the slack in time and the big fella got away. Absolutely devastated was the only way to describe the feeling, we’d caught over 30 barra for the day but you would trade it all for that one beast of a fish. We kept fishing the Firestorm 120 Shallow and landed a handful of fish around the 70cm mark and we called it a day.
Target big barra with the Firestorm 120 Shallow – when you look at this lure the first thing you think of is barra, its your typical barra size – 120mm, this lure has a killer action, internal rattle and a strike feature that no other barra lure has, our LED technology. If you fish in dirty water this lure is an absolute must have, fish this lure against your favourites you will not be disappointed.
What a day of barra fishing it had been, we had caught plenty of fish in both systems, it was intriguing to see how two different systems can produce good numbers of fish but on completely different styles of lures, especially given the systems were within a couple of hours of one another.