I wish I got a dollar every time someone asks, What is the best time of year for barramundi fishing?”
Mostly from people who want to book a charter and come at the best time.
Or also from anglers towing their boat long distances for a fishing holiday and want to maximise their chance of catching a big barra.
These trips can be expensive exercises either way and of course people want to come at the best time.
As most people know, summer time is when the fish are on the chew but it’s also the time of the barra fishing closure in Qld.
Which leaves Qld anglers only two options over the Christmas period.
Head to the Northern Territory or hit the freshwater impoundments.
Both options are valid although if you’d like to land a saltwater fish, heading to the NT is the ONLY option from 1 Nov to 1 Feb.
Best time of year for barramundi fishing
Without doubt the best time of year for barra is when the water heats up.
While I have caught my share of winter barra, as a charter operator I had to learn how to catch them in any conditions.
Or you’d simply go broke!
But for most people, their quest to catch barra is going to be more effective if undertaken when the water temperature is around 26-30 degrees.
Sure you can catch them outside that window, but we are talking here about the low hanging fruit.
If your only option is winter, be sure and use live prawns as bait and pin them on through the tail not the back.
April to May was also a favourite of mine for charters as the monsoon is usually over (no cyclones and no trip cancellations).
During this period we target metre plus fish casting shallow divers.
I guess it depends on your technique of choice and capacity to deal with cyclones and the like.
I always preferred to book interstate and international charters during September October and April May when the fishing and weather was typically good.
If you’re dead keen and more interested in fish than weather, then October to Feb would be the go (note above comments re barra closure in Qld).
Best barra fishing months for the Northern Territory
The best time of year for fishing across the top end is probably subject to some debate.
Northern Australia has three distinct seasons and fish can be targeted throughout the year, although you may need to adjust your techniques at certain times.
May to August is typically referred to as the dry. During this period casting shallow divers and jigging deep plastics are the go. Trolling and live baiting can also be effective although fish will be finicky and hard to get to bite at times. My pick of lures and gear for fishing northern Australia can be downloaded as a cheat sheet.
September to January is classed as the build up and a great time to be chasing metre plus fish as they are moving to aggregating/spawning mode.
February to May is the run off and when the monsoon floods the swamps and billabongs and multitudes of school size fish can be caught easily with lures around drains as the water runs off. Of course there is always the possibility there will be a big fish amongst them.
If you’re thinking of heading to the Northern Territory, be sure and register for the million dollar fish competition.
It is a fantastic initiative by the NT Government and has too many prizes to mention. The creme de la creme are the FIVE tagged million dollar fish. If you catch one… you’ll never have to work again!
But you must register before you fish.
Register for the million dollar fish here.
Freshwater impoundment fish in Qld are not subject to the barra closure.
Many freshwater impoundments are in close proximity to major cities or within a few hours drive.
Many are stocked with barra and the fish cannot escape hence they get HUGE. They also seem to have a higher growth rate due to the abundance of easy prey in the dam.
The best time of year for barramundi fishing in dams is the warmer months. Conveniently this coincides with the barra closure so it’s a perfect time to hit the dams.
Don’t forget you’ll need a SIPS permit. Get one >> here <<
Check out our blog video on the best time of year for barra fishing below.
I have also included some of my favourite lures for each application as sometimes the fish go deep and sometimes they go shallow.
More barra related resources
Million Dollar Fish competition, great prizes and info on fishing the Northern Territory
How to pin live prawns for winter barra so they flick and are more attractive
Best lures and gear for barra including a cheat sheet to take to your tackle shop
Barra Basics online fishing course
Big barra fishing videos