Barramundi Fishing in Australia

Barramundi Fishing is one of the favorite past times of many Australian fishermen. Not only are Barramundi known for their spectacular aerobatics when hooked but they are one of the better table fish found in Australian waters.



Lates calcarifer

Other names                      

Barra, Silver Barramundi, Giant Perch, Palmer Perch


In Australian waters Barramundi Fishing is mainly on the north coast from the Pilbara through the Kimberley and the Northern Territory and Cape York and also down the Queensland coast as far south as Fraser Island. Barramundi Fishing is also popular in south East Asia, China and the Persian Gulf. The Barramundi can be found in creeks, rivers and estuaries in clear or turbid waters. It is listed as a freshwater fish but can commonly be found in estuarine waters.


Barramundi have been known to grow in excess of 60kg or 1.8 m but is more commonly caught in the 10-20kg and between 70cm to 1.2m range. It is illegal to catch Barramundi under 55 cm in the Northern Territory and 58cm in Queensland.


Barramundi eat a range of food including fishes, shrimp, crayfish, crab and aquatic insects and they are mainly but not exclusively nocturnal feeders.


Barramundi Fishing is most productive when the water is warmer in the north of Australia. From September to December the weather builds up when the air and water temperatures and humidity levels increase. The other best time of year for Barramundi Fishing is the run off when the wet season winds down from late March and the water is running off the flood plains. In some areas it is illegal to intentionally catch Barramundi over the wet season.


Barramundi are born as males and then transform into female for breeding at around five years. They grow to maturity in the upper reaches of freshwater rivers then migrate downstream, often during flooding to estuaries and coastal waters for spawning.


The Barramundi has a pointed head, concave forehead, a large jaw extending behind the eye and a rounded caudel fin. It has a first dorsal fin with seven or eight strong spines and a second soft-rayed dorsal fin with ten or eleven rays.

Adult Barramundi are blue to green-grey dorsally, silvery on the sides and white below. Juveniles are mottled brown with a distinct white strip from the dorsal fin to the snout.

How to catch them

Barramundi Fishing is held in high regard by recreational anglers as they are a strong and large fighting fish often known for its spectacular acrobatics and leaps when hooked.

They are also a splendid eating fish especially if they have spent the majority of their lives in flowing, clearer waters.

A favorite haunt for Barra is amongst mangroves and around submerged logs and other overhangs where it waits to ambush  pray. Barramundi prefer larger waters with a slow continuous flow and water temperatures above 20 C.

The Barra will hit the lure or fly hard and run for the snags and the fisherman is usually the loser if the fish gets there.

Barramundi are nocturnal feeders, but like most fish they are usually active at change of light or tide. Barramundi Fishing is also popular during the day when they are opportunistic feeders.


Hot Spots

The Kimberley Rivers such as the Fitzroy near Broome and the Pentecost and King rivers near Wyndham and the Ord, Victoria and Keep rivers near Kununurra are popular with Barramundi Fishing. The Ord in particular being known for big Barramundi in excess of one meter.

Most of the Northern Territory coastal rivers and estuaries are great for Barramundi Fishing. The Katherine and Daly rivers flowing to the west coast are popular with fishermen chasing big Barramundi. The Daly hosts two dedicated Barramundi Fishing festivals each year. The Mary, Wildman and Adelaide rivers and the South and East Alligator rivers flow to the north between Darwin and Kakadu and are easily accessible Barra fishing rivers.


Arnhemland is a huge Aboriginal owned area occupying the North East coastal area of the NT. A permit is required to enter Arnhemland which is difficult to obtain for free traveling. The Liverpool river coastal region at Maningrida is one of the best Barramundi Fishing areas in the country and a first class fishing lodge operates here giving anglers access to the incredible Barramundi fishing of the region.


The Tiwi Islands north of Darwin are also great for Barramundi Fishing. Again they are only accessible with a permit and an excellent fishing lodge operates on Melville Island. On the west coast the McArthur and the Roper River accessed from near Borroloola are excellent Barramundi Fishing locations but again are quite isolated.

Queensland is also a Barramundi Fishing heaven. The Albert and Leichardt rivers near Burktown and Karumba at the bottom of the Gulf of Carpentaria are excellent Barra rivers.


All the rivers of Cape York are also productive Barramundi rivers in particular the west coast rivers such as the Jackson, Cotterel, Skardon and Jardin.

At the Top of the Cape is the huge Jackey Jackey system which is quite simply Barramundi Fishing heaven. All of the rivers flowing east from the ranges to the Coral Sea north of the Tropic of Capricorn at Rockhampton are also great Barramundi rivers.

These are just a few of the many excellent Barramundi Fishing locations in the North of Australia. Just do not make the mistake of focusing solely on Barra as the rich tropical waters of the north are home to over 50 more commonly caught sports fish. Jewfish, Salmon, Cobia, Cod, Groper, Coral Trout, Giant and Golden Trevally, Snapper, Tuna and Mangove Jack just to name a few.



Barramundi Fishing can be undertaken by casting lures to structure such as submerged logs, rock bars and overhanging banks. Barramundi are basically lazy fish and mostly will not put in too much effort to catch a feed so casting needs to be tight. Barramundi can also be caught by fly fishing and by trolling and they can be tough on gear so make sure you have the best.


Lure casting and trolling

  • Solid Baitcaster rod and reel
  • Up to 20lb braid line with up to 50lb leader
  • Lures to suite. There are literally hundreds of Barramundi Fishing lures on the market and everyone swears by a different type. Gold, brown, blue and red seem to be popular choices in colour and what ever you get should swim at least two meters deep if not deeper. Visit a local tackle shop before you set out and ask them what works best locally.

Fly fishing gear should include the following;

  • 8/9 weight saltwater rod
  • Appropriate reel with at least 200m of 15-20kg backing. Braid is best.
  • Flyline- intermediate and/or floating weight forward.
  • Class leader 1-1.5m of 6-10 kilo
  • Shock tippet of .5 m of 20kg mono
  • Popular Flies include Leftys Deceivers (white, green, yellow), Clouser minnow  in white/red and black/gold, Pink Things, Poppers such as frog imitations, Polar Fiber Minnow, Gold Bomber, Crazy Charlie

Best Barramundi Fishing destinations

  • Arnhemland in the Northern Territory
  • The Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory  
  • Cape York in Northern Queensland  
  • The Kimberley Ord River region in Western Australia   

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