Cairns Barra Boom

How to cash in on the barramundi boom in Cairns

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Move over marlin, barramundi numbers are booming around Trinity Bay making Cairns an Australian sport fishing hot spot.

Barra season kicked off on February 1 and local fishos are already pulling in ‘metreys’ (barra in excess of one metre) directly from the beaches around Cairns.

There are a few factors contributing to the Cairns beach-barra-boom, but the biggest of all is the quantity of fish remaining in the water, thanks to the introduction of new legislation in late 2015 removing commercial net fishing from the region.

Big barra-boom on the beaches and bay

Monster barra in Cairns

Cairns is unique in the fact that you have a great chance of catching metre-plus barramundi from the beaches just north of town.

Keen local angler Dan Kagellis says visitors often think of Cairns as a place where you fish for barramundi in the creeks and rivers, casting lures at piles of snags.

“Sure, you can catch small barra in the creeks – up to 80cm, but on the beaches, you’ll struggle to catch a fish UNDER 80cm,” he says. “You don’t need any special tackle – just a rod and reel big enough to handle a fish that might be bigger than 10kg!

“You’ll also need a cast net so that you can catch some live bait – both poddy mullet and prawns are excellent and easy to catch – especially after rain.

“All of the beaches north of Cairns have excellent fishing since the nets were removed and you just need to pick one.”

Anglers often like the zone where a beach meets a rocky headland or a creek mouth – both places offer comfortable places for predatory fish to hunt and ambush their prey.

“The outside of the stinger nets also form great habitat for barramundi in particular,” CAREFish’s (advocates in support of the net-free zones) Paul Aubin says. “Bait travelling along the beach gets hemmed in and the predators take advantage.”

Big threadies also coming back

Trinity Bay TEQ

Gun barra angler, Karim DeRidder, grew up on the Atherton Tablelands and has watched the fishery over several decades and says the new Net Free Zones are the best thing to happen to the Cairns fishery.

“Already the barra fishing is sharply improving, but the number of big threadfin salmon that are showing up is off the charts,” he says.

Karim is a lure fisherman, meaning he’d rather fool a fish on an artificial bait than a natural one, and he gave us a list of ‘must have’ lures for the area.

Karim’s top three lures to bag a bara in Trinity Bay

Best lures to bag a barra in Cairns

1. Soft plastic

Anything in the 3 to 5-inch range that gets down to where the fish are is a vital piece of kit, whether it’s a soft vibe or a jighead rigged plastic, Cairns barra love ‘em.

2. Shallow diving minnow

A staple of North Queensland, the ‘gold Bomber’-style jerk bait has a real place in a Cairns beach anglers’ arsenal. Rip them hard around headland structure and wait for them to get belted on the pause.

3. Deep diving minnow

When you need to get down and in the fishes’ face to get a strike, you’ll need a deeper diving minnow. You can bump and grind these through a gnarly structure to trigger bites from beach barras.

Have you bagged a barramundi in Cairns recently? Fancy sharing some tips below?

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