Barra Fishing Tips: 3 key elements you MUST get right to catch barramundi

There are three key elements you must get right to catch more barramundi. Working it out however is not that easy!

Let me explain.

In my first year of uni I struck up friendship with my university lecturer Dr. Catherine Pickering. A botanist.

I started working for her as a research assistant on alpine plants, despite my degree in Marine Biology.

One day she asked me why I studied fish?

I told her I just love fishing and want to research fish stocks to ensure they are there for generations to come. I joked that people want dolphin free tuna but who is looking out for the tuna??

Anyway… her reply totally shocked me as she is a brilliant scientist. What she said was this…

“But fish move!”

Ah… yeah CP they sure do haha.

What she meant was they are sooooo hard to study.

Unlike plants where you can count the petals and go back the next day and see if there are any more petals, fish move.

Hence all the amazing paradigms that govern our thinking about the ways of the world are lagging for marine studies.

Unless you are the man from Atlantis, fish are virtually impossible to watch, expensive to tag and difficult to track; thus it is very difficult to get a good handle on their behaviours.

Even studying marine plants is far more time consuming and expensive than studying their mainland counterparts.

So where does that leave you… the fisher?

Well it leaves you and me and 80% of our fishing contemporaries in the fishing fail department.

Because lets recap on what it takes to be a consistently successful fisher… A Fish Whisperer.

You need to learn about fish behaviour, movements and lifecycle.

Barra fishing tip #1: To catch barramundi you need to be in the right Territory with the right Techniques at the right Time.

Let’s say you are in the right Territory, which for barra might be a snag in a creek bend. At varying stages of the seasons and tidal movements, fish move to and from the area.

Barra fishing tips: Being in the right place at the right time.


Any time you fish that snag you have a CHANCE of catching a fish.

On certain occasions though, when the Time is right, fish will aggregate or funnel into that area.

If your fishing period coincides with the aggregating period, you will have MORE CHANCES to catch barra!

And get this!

Fish Whisperers understand how fish move so well, they can actually predict their movements.

Of course no matter how many fish are aggregating, you won’t get any to the boat using a piece of string and a bit of dog kibble. You need to have the right Tools and strategies to entice them to bite.

As shown in the graph below, if you miss one of these three ingredients, Territory, Techniques, Time you miss a huge opportunity.

To catch barramundi consistently you need to accurately predict their behaviour


This explains why you can have success one day and not the next.

It also explains why it is so confusing and frustrating!

But hey, top class fishers wouldn’t be the envy of their peers and the hero of their kids if everyone could do it!

But the good news is we know it is possible to work out fish habits as people have already done it!

So to re-iterate…

It’s not about a secret spot or a special lure. Catching barra consistently is about Fishing with Strategy.

For example, Ryan Moody has caught nearly 2000 barra over a metre for clients.

Many people know this and follow Ryan and try to fish near him. They look in his boat to see what lure he is using, or they go back to the spot they saw him on another day.

Generally it is not a recipe for long term success.

Because Ryan has a fishing strategy. He has worked out where the fish aggregate and funnel under certain conditions and the techniques to use under those conditions to entice fish to bite.

He knows that his success is not linked to a particular fishing spot. Nor is it linked to a particular lure, type of bait or retrieval technique. It is not even linked to a particular type of barra habitat.

Yes without those additional factors he is not likely to catch as many fish. However the key is working out where to go when in a systematic manner based on trial and error over time.

The key on how to catch a barra is for all three components to come together as one: Territory, Technique, Timing.

This is why Ryan rarely reads or watches traditional fishing media nor reads fishing magazines. He is not fanatical about the latest equipment, nor does he get involved in the hype of fishing competitions or frequent fishing forums.

Yes these mediums can be helpful in certain instances. Yes you can pick up useful bits of information. However in some cases they are written by people who had success in one location at one particular time and claim to have cracked the barra code.

The cure for all your barra fishing challenges.

It is rarely the case. More often than not, consuming the mountains of published content about barra fishing will lead to confusion, frustration and a whole lot of time and money wasted.

Plus, some of the old techniques are not working as well as they used to.

Nowadays, fishing success is about being an ALL-ROUNDER.

It’s about being able to understand fish movements in a variety of habitats, using a number of techniques at different times.

It’s about recognising that you cannot fish one location in the same way you successfully fished another.

It’s about recognising that you cannot fish the same place under different conditions.

Simply put…

Barra Fishing Tip most people don't follow.

Fishing success for barramundi is about maximising your fishing time in fish holding and funnelling areas and these vary over time because fish move!


One of our students sent us this private message yesterday which pretty much sums it up…

“Well your Barra Basics framework worked pretty well for us yesterday - in the first 5 minutes of our trip I got a nice 72cm barra in about 2ft of water… next to a mangrove forest.  Ironically the same one you mentioned in your video - we have fished the mangroves there for about 5 years but I'd never had luck… - just goes to show "right place, wrong time" makes a big difference!”

Think of it as a quest.

To be successful at anything requires commitment, determination and a whole bag of perseverance.

In order to come up with your own fishing strategy or “framework”, you will need to take certain steps and approach it in a systematic way.

Your best friend is observation and it pays to keep a diary.

Where most people go wrong is they have some success in a certain area and believe it is the spot which brought them success.

In fact it is more likely that the Three T’s would have come together at that moment to create that success.

For barra, the three T’s look something like the diagram below.

The key to catching barramundi is to be in the right place at the right time


In order to determine the patterns, you need to consider the tidal run/timing, the territory AND the technique used.

Now I know this all seems like common sense. And you might even be thinking, "well Der".

The reality is very few people do this!

Which is why very few people catch fish consistently.

Every day when I am out in the boat with Ryan we pass people fishing the holes when they should be in the shallows, fishing the mangroves when they should be in the snags, casting lures when they should be trolling, live baiting with mullet when they should be using prawns.

The results are a mixed bag of inconsistent catches and one confused angler.

Or perhaps they think "that's just fishing" and blunder along assuming they are on the right track.

And that's big mistake.

Because the first step to correcting a problem is recognizing you have one!

And you need to do the same thing.

Start making notes of your successes (and failures) so you can honestly review your results.

The human mind has a tendency to believe what it wants to believe by telling stories over again and a sort of “chinese whisper” phenomenon occurs over time.

Writing your observations down eliminates the patterns from being muddied over time by pre-conceived ideas you may sub-consciously want to believe.

Remember, due to the number of variables involved, this will be a time consuming exercise, however if you start with one location and carefully and meticulously record your results for each repetitive trip to that area, you will eventually recognise the patterns.

Don’t worry if it is not perfect. Treat the process as a scientist would, with trial and error.

And if you are wondering… hell that seems like a lot of time and work. Between work and family I don't have that much spare time. Is there an easier way?

Well yes there is…

If you're pressed for time, I’ll explain it briefly in the following post: Barra Fishing Tips: how top fishers make their own luck.


Or if you have more time and you want to get the info from Ryan, I'd also suggest you sign up to our barra strategies workshop.


For the complete run down on how to catch more Barra in less time (by fishing with strategy), check out our

[FREE] Barra Strategies Workshop!

This three video series is delivered over three days (to give you time to digest the info). It will open your eyes to how many locations Ryan catches barra and how you can catch more barra in less time by fishing with strategy.

What are you waiting for? It’s free. Click the Next Step button below and learn to stop wasting time and start fishing with strategy!

next step


But if you want to know more - check out our next post on the topic here. 

Cheers Karen

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About The Author

Karen Rudkin

Karen Rudkin-Moody became hooked on fishing after being introduced to the sport in 1989. Karen is a marine biologist specializing in estuarine marine protected areas, finishing her successful career in Queensland Marine Parks as Ranger In Charge of the Wet Tropics region within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Karen now works with her husband, accomplished fishing guide Ryan Moody, encouraging people to get away from their computers and into the great outdoors.

Facebook comments


  • sam

    Reply Reply October 17, 2017

    that is a sexy fish

  • mark

    Reply Reply November 1, 2014

    Basically, I am the same as Mark

  • Nathan

    Reply Reply November 1, 2014

    My biggest challenge seems to be predicting where the fish will be. I know here in townsville I can only fish the flats at high tide, and creek snags can only be fished effectively if the tides aren’t too big, but there must be more to it than that.
    Also, if a catch a legal size barra at one spot I seem to get “hooked” on that spot for a while, believing that if it happened once it could happen again, when the truth is it was probably just a fluke.

    I have tried casting hard bodies and SP’s with some success, but ZERO consistency. A good session here and there followed by months of nothing in between.

    I haven’t really tried trolling yet because I don’t really understand when or where I should be doing it but would love to learn more about it.

  • Adam

    Reply Reply November 1, 2014

    My biggest problem is also location and timing, not having a thorough knowledge about tides and holding spots. I have been lucky enough to catch a few barra, biggest one at 121 though the more I read through your blogs I’ve come to realise it has been purely luck, I go out with the same gear, bait and generally the same spots in which rarely produce though it has previously so there must be fish there (I thought) knowing what exactly to document will be interesting. Look forward to hearing more from you. Thanks for the help so far!

  • michael

    Reply Reply October 31, 2014

    my biggest challenge is choosing which spot too fish.I live in Brisbane, but also fish on the Gold Coast as well. Both cities have many fishing spots. I am a land based angler which limits where I fish [not complaining] I target Mangrove jacks which are not an easy fish too catch.I fish with frozen bait, live bait, soft plastics and hard body lures.

  • Mark

    Reply Reply October 31, 2014

    My biggest challenge is knowing where to be at the right time. I have the techniques, the gear, the idea, just cant put them all together. I find that I am either to early or too late for the fish. I can put the elements together, find the bait/food source schooled up, find an ambushing area, just no fish behind the idea. For certain species I have it sorted, but for barra, it seems like there is mystery behind it. Tried it all, SP’s, hard bodies, live baits, dead baits, and everything else in between, BUT…I haven’t really tried using surface lures or lures during the night….why? Because i seem to believe the fish are holding deeper, and well I have had more success on live bait during the night, simply because the bait can be in the water more than the lure in the tree!

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