QLD Barra Season coming to a close, so what to chase now?

By Scott Mitchell

Throughout the Queensland east coast, a closed season applies to barramundi from midday 1 November to midday 1 February. It is also prohibited to deliberately target barramundi for catch and release during these closed seasons, as the stress of capture may prevent a fish from spawning. 

We have some quite good barra fishing around Hervey Bay from the Great Sandy Straights down the inside of Fraser Island and estuaries in between The Mary River & Tin Can bay. The Mary River is actually home to the southernmost strain of wild barramundi in the country – with the potential of becoming the best Southern Most barra fishery in the country if commercial netting was stopped. The Great Sandy Marine Park is actually the ONLY marine park in Australia – possibly the world that allows commercial netting to occur in Yellow Conservation Zones!

The Mary River is approx. 291km in length with its headwaters above Chrystal waters, west of Landsborough in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Flowing north the beautiful river runs through the towns of Kenilworth, Gympie, Tiaro and Maryborough before dispersing into the Great Sandy Strait at River Heads. There are 19 creeks and rivers flow into the Mary River along its way with the five longest tributaries being Tinana Creek, Munna Creek, Yabba Creek, Obi Obi Creek and Kandanga Creek.

There is some fantastic wild bass fishing available in the upper freshwater reaches of the Mary with functioning fish ways on the lower weirs to allow easy passage during spawning periods. The Mary is also home to the rare and endangered Mary River cod (Maccullochella mariensis). The Mary River cod is significant because they are the most northerly of the four Maccullochella cods found in coastal river systems of eastern Australia.

Upstream from River Heads the Mary River is a large mangrove lined tidal river with expansive flats. Once out on the water, it is easily to imagine yourself being on any of the famous Top End Rivers. The flats, gutters & rock bars around River Heads produce not only consistent barra catches in season but some serious threadfin salmon as well. Fish over the magic metre mark are not uncommon and I have seen them up to over 120cm!

Thready’s can be finicky feeders, particularly when they are fixated on jelly prawns! You are often better not trying the “match the hatch” and throw something larger to snap them into an aggressive reaction strike. Shallow running minnows like Bombers and plastics like Squidgy Mongrels in natural mullet colours are worth a try. Fly fishing for thready’s can also be really effective with flies like clousers, deceivers & whistlers in black being personal favourites.

The Burrum River also fishes well for Barra in season and has received a steady stream of new recruits courtesy of Lake Lenthalls spilling during the last two wet seasons. The Fraser Coast Fish Stocking Association has stocked over 150,000- barramundi into the lake to date and some of these escape downstream whenever the dam spills during big wets. We have had some great sessions this year already with fish in the 50cm – 80cm range. The largest one caught last season by local angler Allan Manson went a whopping 127cm! The great thing about the Burrum is you also stand a great chance of catching some quality mangrove jacks and other great critters when chasing barra in season.

The Burrum is an expansive system with three great tributaries in the Gregory, Isis & Cherwell all providing great country to explore. Just be careful navigating these systems as there are plenty of rock bars & sand banks to bring you unstuck!

The biggest problem we have here on the Fraser Coast over summer is what to chase next – so it’s probably a good thing that barra are off the list for a few months!