Barramundi (Lates calcarifer)
- Size 2 to 7kg (5 to 15lbs)
- Food Value Excellent
- Game Qualities Good
- Habitats River, Lake, Inshore, Backcountry
Also known as the Asian Seabass, the Barramundi is a highly sought after light tackle game fish and a prime food item, especially in the fish menus of Australia. Other than this, the fish is also cultivated in aquaculture in places far from its origin, such as the US, the UK and Saudi Arabia.
Barramundi possibly have the most scientific descriptors out of any fish (are you ready?). They are:
- stenothermic - highly sensitive to temperature and can only be found in waters above 20ºC (70ºF), preferring the narrow range between 26 and 30ºC (79 and 86ºF);
- euryhaline - tolerant of a wide range of water salinity;
- catadromous - inhabit upstream rivers, billabongs and lagoons and move to estuaries and coastal waters to spawn;
- demersal - live in the section of the water column just above the seafloor;
- cannibalistic - aggressive and sudden feeders, often eating smaller Barras;
- protandrous - almost all fish are born as males;
- hermaphroditic - who then transform to females after the first spawning season;
This species can grow up to 180cm (6ft) and 60kg (130lbs), though behemoths like these are extremely scarce. The average catch, depending on the area fished, might be between 2 and 7kg (5 and 15lbs) and 60 and 120cm (2 and 4ft) long.
When & Where
Barras are common in fresh and brackish waters of the Indo-West Pacific, from the Persian Gulf through India, Southeast Asia, south China and the Philippines, down to Papua New Guinea and north Australia (north of Exmouth Gulf on the western side and Maroochy River on the eastern side). Well-known Barra spots in Australia include Darwin in Northern Territory and Cairns in Queensland.
During the monsoon season (between October and April), Barras travel downstream for spawning purposes.
You can notice a resemblance to their close relative, the Snook. Caught with Viv's Barra in Darwin, NT
How to catch
Barramundi are grateful fish to target, as they will take a wide variety of bait. If using naturals, live mullet, minnows, barra frogs, prawn and freshwater shrimp will be good (dead bait is less effective). Artificials can be minnow pattern lures or flies.
They are usually caught either by trolling or casting, but the latter is more effective due to being able to reach the snags and brush that the former is restricted from.
These powerful fish have razor sharp gill flaps and caution is advised when handling them (also, many lines and nets are cut by these gills before boating the fish).
Good to eat?
Regarded as gourmet meat in Australia - mild, white, flaky, oily, versatile and rich in nutrients.
- Western Australia: 2 fish between 55 and 80cm (21.65 and 31.5'') per angler are allowed daily;
- Northern Territory: 5 fish minimum 55cm (21.65'') per angler are allowed daily, except in Mary and Daly River fish management zones, where it's 3 fish between 55 and 90cm (21.65 and 35.43''), with one fish above the size limit allowed per vessel;
- Queensland: closed season is from November 1 to February 1, except for the Gulf of Carpentaria and adjoining waterways, where it's October 7 to February 1; during open season, 5 fish between 58 and 120cm (22.83 and 47.24'') per angler are allowed daily;
Top Barramundi Fishing Charters
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