Lake fishing is great because you can be a professional or a beginner and you will keep yourself occupied with the large range and types of fishing that can be preformed in a lake environment. Lake Fishing is always a good option for any angler up in North Queensland because most of the world record Barramundi have been caught in our local freshwater lakes. Tinaroo, an hour and a half West of Cairns, is one of the most popular lakes in north Queensland.
Barramundi is one the most sort after fish in fresh and salt waters around the Cairns area and can grow up to 62kg as the current world records stands. Our freshwater lakes have been stocked with Barramundi, Sooty Grunter, Mangrove Jack and Saratoga to ensure that there will be plenty of good-size and numbers of fish for the next generation of anglers.he most common way of catching a Barramundi is with live bait or trolling a large lure behind a boat.
Mouth almighty is the best live bait for the Barramundi in Lake Tinaroo, they can be caught in shallow water near the weed bed and among the tree’s and snags. If you are having a hard time catching the Mouth Almighty you can drop in some opera house traps, they are designed to catch yabbies but you will find that most of the time you will have some small baitfish in the trap such as the mouth almighty. If all else fails you should get some yabbies in the traps and you can use them for live bait. Not as popular but definitely better then any dead bait. There are some occasions where dead bait has worked better but that is very rare.
Once you have your live bait it is vital that you keep it alive, so having a live bait bucket that you can let float beside the boat in the lake with fresh, clean water filtering past constantly which is referred to as raw water bait bucket is a much better option than have a bucket of water with an aerator because the water gets contaminated after a while due to fish faeces and the oil off your hand from when you go to grab your live bait to place on your hook.
The less trauma you cause the fish and the better the conditions in which you place them, the longer they will live, however they can also be removed from the water and fitted with a aerator for traveling purposes. An aerator is ideal, the buckets that are strictly aerators are good for traveling but you need to have the water changed a lot due to contamination from both the fish and you getting the live bait out.
The live bait buckets that are strictly float beside the boat (raw water bait buckets) are no good for when traveling. The bait must be hooked through the back, to do the least amount of damage to the bait and to make it the swim as realistic as possible. Where to place your live bait is a hard question to answer because there are so many factors involved such as rainfall, time of year, moon faze, time of day or night and what bait you are using.
For starters, around summer (October-March) are the best months for catching Barramundi. In the hotter months the Barramundi are a lot more active compared to winter when you practically have to place the bait into the Barramundi’s mouth for them to strike!
Early morning, just on day break before the sun comes up and while the lake is very quiet is a good time to fish for the Barramundi. Late afternoon as the sun is going down the Barramundi start to become active and are roaming the banks looking for bait.
A prime time to be hunting on the lake is during the summer. The Barramundi head up into the shallows on the full moon seeking out bait fish. You will know if the Barramundi are on the bite or you are in an active spot by the large thumping noises that you hear. This is the Barramundi sucking up the small surface fish in the shallows, the noise consists of a vacuum and a thump at the same time, and when you hear this noise you will know exactly what I mean.
Once you have a hook-up if you are in shallow water the large fish may become airborne and a lot of hook-ups are lost at this point due to the violent shaking of the head which can throw your hook or lure and from a tail slap which can cut the line.
When you have hooked a large Barramundi in deep water the chances are that the fish will stay down deep until you have it beside the boat. When you do have the fish beside the boat this is where most care must be taken, especially if you are going to release the fish.
A large Barramundi can’t support its weight vertically if you are going to weigh it with a normal set of scales by holding it or hooking it through the mouth the backbone will fracture or brake. You will need to make a saddle of some sort that supports the body of the fish. When the saddle is hooked up to the scales the whole body of the fish must be supported.
When releasing the barramundi you may need to swim him back and forth until the fish kicks hard out of your hands.
There is much debate about if the large Barramundi should be released or killed. The arguments are that you should release the barramundi because at that size they are no good to eat so they should live to fight another day for other anglers and also so that the area doesn’t become barren.
The other side to the argument is that the Barramundi need to migrate down to the saltwater before turning female to reproduce, so if the larger Barramundi in the lake are still male and eat the smaller Barramundi they don’t get a chance to become large enough to be line fished. They are both good arguments so I will leave it up to you to make your own decision.
Yabbies are a lot of fun to catch and are great eating too. Yabbies are also used as live bait to catch large freshwater fish like Barramundi. There are two main types of Yabbies in North Queensland, the Redclaw and the Cherabin. Redclaw are found in large numbers in Tinaroo Dam and can also be found in a lot of our freshwater creeks and rivers. Cherabins are found more so in the rivers and creeks then in Dams. They have been caught at a length of 25cm, non-inclusive of the nippers. The Cherabins have extremely dense meat so one Yabbie at that size is a meal in its self. Yabbies can be caught by pots, spear or by hand. The taste can vary depending on the size and location of the yabbie. Yabbies can be cooked a number of different ways, but the most common is boiling and frying them.