Catching big barramundi at Tinaroo.

Tinaroo Barra

Tinaroo Barra

By Dylan Brier Mills


Tinaroo also known as the lake of 1000 cast was completed in 1958 with the damming of the Barron River. It was the first large dam in Queensland built primarily for irrigation. Positioned closely to the small tableland towns of Yungaburra and Kauri it is now a multi-purpose storage dam providing water to its surrounding towns, power generation, crop irrigation, stock watering and recreation.

From the city of Cairns it’s only a 90 minute drive to most areas of the lake providing great fun on the water for everyone without having to worry about Crocs and Jellyfish. Tinaroo is a fresh water lake with no dangerous fish or animals that inhabit in and around the lake. The only fish in the lake that some call scary with their huge bucket mouths and paddle tails is the infamous Barramundi. It has been stocked with Barra fingerlings for over 20 years making it one of the biggest Barra fishing impoundment’s in Australia. Tinaroo has produced many world record Barramundi in the past years making it an impoundment that anglers from all around the world want to come and fish.

The lake holds huge fresh water Barramundi well over the meter mark, a lot of the fish caught from Tinaroo are well over 120cm’s reaching 30kg’s or more. At this size the can become a real handful to anglers once they have been hooked up but the hardest part is finding them and getting them to bite. Many people think because the lake is stocked with thousands of fish they can just flick a line of the shore and catch a big Barra. Truth is that it’s one of the hardest to fish out of all the Barra impoundment’s because the fish are so old and smart. Another reason they are so hard to catch is because there is no tidal influence from the saltwater as the lake is situated about 670m above sea level.

The easiest and most common way to fish Tinaroo is with big live baits under a float about 70cm’s down. The best way to live bait the lake is to find a big weed or Lilly pad edge, anchor up out from it and throw your live bait as close as you can to the weed’s or Lilly’s in about 2m’s of water. The float rig used normally consists of a small float, 60-80lb leader with an 8-10/0 hook attached to the end that gets hooked into the back of the livie. This method works well for first timers who just want to sit back and relax with the chance of hooking a Barra. Although it can get boring very quickly with turtles always munching on the bait and having to sit in one spot for hours waiting for the fish to travel past. 

Another technique to chase these fish that is more challenging but a lot more rewarding is casting off the banks. The best way to do this is to find a shallow point (2.5m or less) with bait congregating over the rise and wind blowing towards it creating warmer water where the fish like to feed. Shallow diving hard bodied and surface lures between 100mm and 150mm are the ideal lures for this technique. I recommend upgrading the rings and trebles to owners because these 20-30kg fish can bend or even straighten a hook instantly after the strike. The diving lures work best with a slow wind and the surface lures work well with a twitch followed by a long pause. These Barra are lazy and won’t travel at speeds to chase after a feed so slower the better. This is an awesome technique for those who don’t have a boat and would love catch a Tinaroo Barra on a lure.

The last technique I’ve just started using is trolling for them. The best part about trolling for the Barra is that you’re still using a lure but it’s less work then casting for hours. Trolling can be done using a petrol motor, an electric motor or even a kayak. These are all effective as long as you’re travelling as slow as possible and making minimal noise. When trolling you can catch them anywhere in less than about 6m’s of water, old creek beds where the fish are holding on the edges showing up on the sounder are great places to start. The ideal lures to troll are deep diving hard bodies and big weighted soft plastics. The more lines you can troll behind your boat or kayak can also be extra effective sometimes as it replicates a bait school. 

All these techniques work effectively in different ways; one thing that stays the same is the time to fish for them. The summer hot stormy months between October and March seem to be the best. Fishing for them from 4pm-9pm in the afternoon/night and 4am-6am in the early morning seems to be the better bite times. The gear that I use for these beasts are Shimano Curado 200 & 300 sized reels with Shimano Raider & Tcurve rods. The line I use is 20-50lb Power Pro braid depending on the area I’m fishing. Tinaroo is a hard lake to fish but these techniques are a few stepping stones to land your first big impoundment Barra. Perfect to fish this time of year with beautiful weather and the Barra season closed. You can fish the lake all year round as long as you buy a stocked impoundment permit from your local tackle store. These Barra taste like you’re eating mud and are full of fat so if you get one it’s best to release them to grow even bigger and fight another day.