Lake Awoonga’s Barra Fishery Explodes

Lake Awoonga is booming, beyond the disastrous flood events of 2010/11 where adult stocks escaped. Today, September 21st, 2018 Awoonga is exploding with an impressive supply of barramundi. Hundreds of thousands of barra stockings have created a new fishery, fast growths quickly swinging the pendulum in favour of the angler.

75 to 80 cm barra are common.

Numbers are strong, supported by significant catches of all sizes. The new fishery hasn’t just appeared overnight, it has gone through ups and downs since 2010 with further losses during flood events, but at this point the lake is ‘alive’.

I guided clients in 2015 and 2016 with catches of 14 and 18 fish in a session, mostly around 85 cm with one at 117 cm.  2017 showed inspiring potential, at present, anglers under their own terms are hooking up to 20 a session in a hot bite using (sign thru to read more)

hard body and soft plastic lure, fish ranging from 50 to 90 cm, mostly in the 65 to 85 cm class. They’re heavy set fish, Awoonga’s food supply is off the charts! Wait until you see the sonar images when idling mid-lake.

Surface bites over the weed beds and lilies have been explosive, a lucky dip on what size comes next. There are fishing options galore, casting at weed edges is a common style.

Hot bites can occur well before sunset, Zane and I returning home after a wild mid-winter session.

Zane Read and I hooked over 80 fish in just eight short sessions in July and August this year, using a mix of soft plastic tails and shallow diving minnows, Zane favouring a 5 inch Bite Me wedgetail. A research job of my own saw 43 hooked in four short trips in winter- 120mm paddle tails and super shallow minnows proving deadly.

A number of fish about to measured, captured in an hour during early August 2018 using a twitch style minnow.

A stoked angler, guided to barra success by Justin Nye. Justin has guided clients to about 520 something barra catches in recent times on Awoonga. Impressive stuff!!

The increasing air and water temperature in spring amplify their activity levels, fish hunger increases overall making them more likely to cross paths with your lure. Even though the lake is a 12 month fishery where barra catches can occur any day of the year, it still remains a specialist arena in winter where professionals and full time guides like Justin Nye help anglers wanting the barra experience.

The lake is now huge, using a fishing guide to reach your target goal any time of the year has always been beneficial in fast tracking the experience. I guided on Awoonga for about seven years straight helping a few thousand people fulfil barra dreams. Guiding is worth paying the money, the smiles on faces agree.

These fish haven’t seen lures before and engulf them a long way down.

If you want to catch a barramundi on Lake Awoonga ring Justin Nye from Gladstone Fly and Sportfishing.

Fish have been caught (casting lures) from Iveragh Creek, Riverstone, New Zealand Gully, Futter Creek, Boynedale and in the many bays and points in Awoonga’s large main basin. Trollers will find good barra also, slow trolling diving minnows out from the edge of the shoreline. The top 25 feet or 7-8m being a prime depth to focus.

Casters will enjoy throwing into tangled sticks, submerged trees and flicking at every log they can find. However, barra hang in comfortable water, just as many barra are caught on bare banks with not a stick in sight. The rate at which these fish grow is astounding and nothing unusual for Awoonga, up to four kilos per year. Some two year old fish are around eight kilograms and whack a lure like you wouldn’t believe- footballs.

This one bled out so was kept to eat. At 62cm it’s taste was divine, no hint of freshwater, weed or fat, just a clean lovely taste- pan fried.

Clean, white flesh from a 62cm barra.

Even though this lake is throwing impressive barra catches and will do so until the boom cycle busts, (perhaps with the next big flood event) anglers need to put work into the bottom tiers of the fishing game and put some thought and consideration beside the word ‘expectation’. Many anglers will rock up and catch nothing, simply because a few vital steps are skipped, overlooked while looking only at the end wish rather than the process required to get results. The process is critical.

These fish won’t come and find you, anglers should be learning about the lay of the land, reading or learning about the fish and techniques. Most barra live in the deeper water and visit the edges of the lake where energy concentrates and dissipates, taking advantage of the many kinds of water in the lake. Weed beds can hold heat, shallow bays can trap surface moving water that flows with surface currents formed by the wind. Lakes are complex environments, that’s why guides excel because they fish daily and synchronise with the changing dynamics and stay in tune with the lake’s song.

Lure brands catch more fish than fisherman, it’s more important to be in the right place at the right time and knowing how to use a lure rather than focusing on trying to buy the ‘ultimate’ barra lure- there is no such thing. Learning how to fish the lure is important, then take that skill and apply it around the lake, over time.

As the lake heats further into late spring and early summer, dawn surface action will be awesome, plus don’t forget the natural transition of fish from deeper water toward the surface or the edges as the sun drops, given it’s not too windy. Anchoring near a point of weed and waiting for fish to rise late in the day often works. Skilled anglers hunt fish all day- shifting depth, lure type and target area around the lake. Even jigging mid-lake will provide prime barra action, plus two million catfish.

Heading onto the lake for a research job.

I no longer run day trips for barramundi, instead training anglers through a mix of courses and seminars. Many of our trainees are exceling, and it’s a common trend to see these anglers utilising taught skill sets on the lake. Fishing is quite an extraordinary subject, once it’s cracked wide open anglers begin to appreciate the intricacies and fish to a whole new level and from that point never look back.

How impressive is the scale pattern and colouration of this Lake Awoonga barramundi?

Lake Awoonga needs a visit urgently if you have that barra itch- metre fish will come unexpectedly for lucky anglers and if she survives and misses a 2019 flood event there will super-incredible fishing ahead.

Now is certainly the time to return to the lake, explore the new layout and find barra along the way during the exploration journey and life adventure.

The GAWB Hatchery have done an amazing job stocking the lake, they’ve been hard at it for nearly 23 years. An incredible achievement, considering it’s free to fish.

Hire boats are available at Awoonga, click here.

Justin Nye the local barra charter guide, click here.

Lake Awoonga Caravan Park, click here.

Online Sonar Training Course, click here.

Barra Training Seminar, click here.


Johnny Mitchell

Wild Adventures

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