Fishing for barra in Darwin

Fishing for barra in Darwin

I have been asked many times in recent years if fishing for Barra in Darwin is the same as on the east coast.

In my experience, I have found them to have pretty much exactly the same habits everywhere.

The only difference is you get a smaller window to have a crack at them aggregating than say in Townsville. Mostly due to the larger tidal differences. This is similar to central Queensland where tides are also large.

And just like the east coast, during winter they tend to get lockjaw. As they also do in heavily pressured areas.

But when it comes to a barra’s general habits, fishing for barra in Darwin is no different to fishing for them on the east coast of Qld.

So during our recent trip to Darwin catching up with friends and Barra Basics students, we heard about a school of fish that were sulking down deep and just wouldn’t take a lure or bait.

Fishing for barra in winter can be difficult so we took this as a challenge.

They were also in Shoal Bay, a location we have wanted to fish for some time.

Plus we really wanted to see if our techniques for getting pressured fish to bite during the dry season would see the same results as the east coast.

After meeting Glenn and Nathan at the ramp and a quick 20 minute run in the boat, we were on top of a big school of barra with a few black jew mixed in. A full video of the day is at the bottom of this blog.


Shoal Rock is where we went fishing for barra in Darwin on a glorious winter's day.

Shoal Rock is where we went fishing for barra in Darwin on a glorious winter’s day.

The day before we had a gusty westerly change come through which also dropped the water by 3 degrees overnight. As such, I expected we were going to have very finicky fish to deal with.

So we all rigged up with a variety of our favourite barra lures and we started our relentless campaign.

Fishing Shoal Rock using the low and slow technique.

Shoal Bay is close to town and a perfect location to go fishing for barra in Darwin.

After 15 minutes I had my first “nip” using a slow and low technique we use when fish are hugging the bottom.

Just when you think you are retrieving your lure too slow – slow it down some more!

And that’s why it always pays to watch their movements on the sounder.

Because there’s no point using a low and slow technique for fish that are higher in the water and more aggressive. Luckily (or some could say unluckily) they were all sulking which was the point of our exercise in the first place.

Not long after Glenn had a nip as well.

When they do this it’s often more of an aggression bite so they don’t inhale it. Hook up’s from these kinds of bites generally get them in a bad spot outside the cheek often resulting in pulled hooks.

Always check when you retrieve your lure as it will have the telltale cheek scale on it.

Nek Minit Nathan hooked up on what we thought was a big Jew.

That’s one of the benefits of fishing for barra in Darwin!

They often hang out with big black Jew – a premium sport and food fish in its own right.

Sadly it soon became apparent after a disappointing 20 minutes that it wasn’t a Jew at all. An eagle ray had swum through the line and was just pinned on its wing.

So back to the drawing board and our school of fish.

Moments later Glenn hooked up (finally) on a big barra but lost it after a mere 15-second fight.

Close inspection revealed he had been fishing with his drag way too tight. Lesson learned.

Sadly our day fishing for barra in Darwin had to be cut short. Shoal Bay is notoriously shallow so we headed back to avoid getting stuck in the creek.

We had at least interacted with a few big barra and confirmed they did all the same things they do on the east coast.

All in all it was a great day.

That last cast…

On the way into the ramp I noticed a couple of situations where moving fish would go to deliberately to feed.

Fishing aggregations can be very productive at times but not so much when they’re sulking.

The best option is to target fish that are actively hunting… and that’s what we found on the way back to the ramp.

The best option for winter fishing for barra in Darwin (or anywhere for that matter)


Likely looking spot to catch winter barra. Roaming fish on the side imager and plenty of bait gave it away!

After confirming there was roaming fish in this spot with the side imager it was time to give it a quick 10 minutes.

The area also had bait in it too – another important ingredient.

Within minutes Glenn came tight to a good fish that inhaled his lure big time… none of this nipping and carrying on!

It was a beautiful fish at 94 cm and gave Glen plenty of curry making several big runs that we could clearly see in the shallows.

Fishing and catching big barra in Darwin

An incredibly active fish, the big barra made several runs and jumps before succumbing to the net.

Glenn and his Darwin winter barra. A fish of a thousand casts as we worked hard in the morning on a sulking aggregation for nil result.

Fishing for barra in Darwin with a soft plastic and stinger rig.

And the stinger rig does the damage! Taking no chances that she will get away.

Watch the video of our day fishing for barra in Darwin and Shoal Bay.


In hindsight, I would have come back much earlier to fish that region. I think we would have done rather well considering the number of shallow-water fish in the area.

But the point of the day was to check out hard fished Barra aggregations and we certainly learnt from it.

Sometimes it's not about catching the most fish, it's about identifying patterns and behaviours.

It's this kind of experimenting over thirty years on the water that has resulted in over 2000 stunning metre plus barra for charter clients. Plus many successful students catching metre plus barra after doing my Fish Smarter online fishing courses.

Because the more knowledge you can arm yourself with, the more consistent you will be!

It always amazes me how anglers will spend so much money on new lures, gear and electronics etc. Without taking the time to gain the knowledge to catch more fish.

Next time I'm up fishing for barra in Darwin however we will concentrate more on deliberate feeding locations. I must say, despite the pressure, fishing close to Darwin is still very good. Especially if you are a bit switched on with them.

Ryan Moody Fishing Blog

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About The Author

Ryan Moody

Ryan Moody started his fishing career on the reef boats before catching bucket list marlin for the likes of champion heavy tackle angler Johnno Johnson, INXS and the King of Sweden. Branching out in the late 80's to guided barramundi fishing, Ryan has made a name for himself as a Big Barramundi specialist and to date has put clients onto over 2000 metre plus barra. That is over 2 kilometres of metre plus barra! With attitudes changing from 'keep all you can' towards catch and release, Ryan has decided to share his extensive knowledge and hopefully inspire people of all ages to get out from behind the computer screen/TV and into the fishing outdoors lifestyle he has spent his life perfecting.

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1 Comment

  • Mike Jones

    Reply Reply September 27, 2019

    Excellent article Ryan. Amazing how many people think that catching Barra during the dry season is just not an option.

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