Over my years on the water catching barra with my fishing charters, I have noticed a distinct pattern with re-captured fish.
In the earlier days when I didn’t have grey hair, we caught many smaller barra as part of tagging programs.
With these smaller barra, I noticed that many of them were tagged between 100 and 200 kilometres away from where I caught them. Thus meaning that small fish do travel along the coastline from system to system. It seems obvious that small barra are transient. The same cannot be said of the larger fish.
It is my belief that when the tidal run is large, the big girls will move around on the flats, but always seem to return to their favourite haunt when the tidal movement eases. On six occasions now I have been lucky enough to re-capture big girls, noticeable by distinct markings or scars. For example the fish in these photos has a definite growth or tumor on the lower lip.
Interestingly, this particular fish was re-captured in EXACTLY the same spot it was previously caught. Note the tumor on the lip in both this and the top photo.
The same can be said for the other five occasions – four in the Bohle River and one in the Haughton River.
Now when I say the same spot I don’t mean the same river, I mean the exact same spot, the same rock bar etc. The barra pictured above was originally caught on the 8th of October 2013 and was recaptured just recently. Now, I am wondering how many other big barra have I caught over and over again that I have not recognised through distinct markings.
This could be why aggregations of big barra at certain hot spots are getting thinner and thinner.
Perhaps because they are resident fish and those taken out of the fishery are not being replaced! So please, just in case my theory has merit, let the big girls go!
They are not crash hot to eat, they are vitally important brood stock and better still, I am proof that you can catch them again. I can also assure you they fight just as hard the second time around! I am hoping that the Queensland Fisheries will reduce the maximum size limit to one metre in the upcoming fisheries overhaul.
As always, love to hear your views in the comments below and any experiences you may have had recapturing the same fish.
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