Trolling successfully requires some real skill. It is true in the tropics that 90% of anglers account for 10% of the fish caught. It’s that 10% of anglers that get the real results. We’ll see poor souls that have been fishing for five days and caught nothing at all, while those same days, the guides and gun recreationals have cleaned up.
Get your lure to the fish because Barramundi are lazy and do not like going out of their way for a feed. You need to get your lure into the strike zone- that means reading the water and using the depth of the lure to your advantage and sweeping it right past the Barramundi’s nose. We see so many anglers trolling the middle of the billabongs in open water. We rarely see them hook up.
Work your lures. Sitting the rod in a holder is a sure-fire way to get weed on the hooks, and do not entice too many fish to strike. Don’t be lazy, hold the rod and work that lure erratically. You’ll get far more fish.
I often have four clients trolling at the same time. Managing those lines is fairly easy. The two anglers at the back of the boat, on the skipper’s signal, put their lures in the water and free-spool the reels (no thumbing the reels or casting). When a couple of metres have been let out, the two at the front then do the same. Around 30-50m is let out, and on the skipper’s signal, all reels are put into gear at the same time and fishing begins. The two at the back keep their rods vertical, while the two at the front hold them out to the sides. If done correctly, it’s easy to manage four lines.
Final stages of landing a Barra Keeping the rod low at this stage is the best way to control the fish.
Watch the rod tip, or feel through the rod. You’ll be fishing by feel most of the time, this is where good quality graphite and braid makes so much sense. A vibrating rod means all is well with the lure. A dull action or no action means weed, mud or a tangle. Whipping the rod hard will get rid of weed and mud 90% of the time, and it will alert other anglers in the case of a tangle.
Trolling speed should be slow- around 3kph is a good start. In some cases, I’ll go as slow as 2kph, especially when fishing trolled plastics so they just tick over the bottom. If you have a big engine that won’t idle any lower than 5kph, you’ll need to install some sort of drogue or electric motor- or do what we do and take the boat in and out of gear.
Once mastered, billabong trolling is a fantastic way to rack up a good score of Barramundi, especially if casting space on board is limited or you have an inexperienced crew.
It’s a great way to get kids into fishing, too. Best of luck and I’ll see you on the water.