Billabong Barramundi
Billabong Barramundi

Barramundi Billabong Fishing Guide

Trolling for Barramundi at Corroboree Billabong

Tips for trolling for Barramundi at Corroboree Billabong near Darwin by Jarrod Day including rods, lures and landing barra successfully.

Gear Choice

Fishing the billabong usually warrants some type of baitcasting outfit – to what level is entirely up to you. Baitcasting rods are usually only 1.5-1.7m, making them the ideal for transporting from your home state, considering most airlines have length limits.

Barra in the billabongs surely do pull and hit hard, but nothing a 6-8kg rod can’t handle. Bait cast rods come in two styles: long or short pistol grip handle.

If you’re trolling the banks, the longer handle is ideal, although many Top-Enders prefer a longer handle for casting too, mainly for double-handed casting.

There are hundreds of rods on the market and many have advantages over others.

Now days practically everyone uses graphite rods for Barra fishing; they are far more responsive, lighter and easier to fish than a fibre-glass rod. But on the other side of the coin, you can’t go banging them around or you’ll find you have a two piece rod rather than the one you took up there.

Baitcasting reels can also differ dramatically from one to another, but it does all come down to price. It is imperative to look at the quality of the reel you intend to purchase. Barra hit hard and often run to the nearest snag. You don’t need the most elite of reels but you do need one that supports some good, smooth drag pressure.

Most of the time you’ll be fishing with 30lb braid, of which most Barra baitcasting reels nowadays will hold 80-120m.

The other major consideration is the cast-ability of the reel you use. It’s a simple fact that some reels are easier to cast with than others. Price isn’t always the delineating factor in the ability of a reel to cast smoothly, with less chance of an over-run, but mostly it is. Heading all the way from Toorak to the Top End, and then having issues with your baitcasting reel, isn’t the way you want a holiday to go. If you’re taking your own gear, make sure it’s up to the challenge.

Lure Selection

Green is the author’s choice.

Matching the hatch should always be part of your philosophy when reaching for a lure. When cruising the banks, using a good set of polarised sunglasses can allow you to see what bait the Barra and Saratoga might be feeding on. Small minnows and river garfish are always on the menu and when you take a closer look at their colours, you’ll be able to reach for something similar.

I have always had very good success using green or yellow/green lures on the billabongs. Most baitfish tend to have a hint of green on their skin; even baby Barra or baby Toga which also might become a meal from time to time. In my opinion, more natural-looking colours offer better results.

Diving depth and size of the lure are also important. The Barra of Corroboree Billabong, for example, are often smaller models than those found during the run-off but do provide some great entertainment. Larger fish up to a metre are available, but consider them a bonus. Most years the average-sized fish ranges from 50cm to 60cm, so lure size can be kept on the smaller size. Generally, 60mm length lures work very well and, as a rule, don’t exceed 100mm in length.

The next most important attribute to a lure is its diving depth. As previously mentioned, trolling two different-depth lures allows you to effectively work the bank and the edge of the drop-off where fish could be holding. Fish could be held at different depths because the water temperature is warmer, thus the deeper-running lures will work better if the fish are holding deeper.

Trolling along the edge of the lilies, shallow running lures diving no more than a metre are recommended. Although you’ll still encounter the odd snag, this depth lure will be ideal for most of the shallow trolling. If you do become caught up in weed, or notice the rod tip not quivering due to a weed build-up, you can whip the rod tip vigorously back and forth to remove any weed.

As for the other side, trolling the deeper section of the bank lures running to 3m are ideal.

Work the rod while trolling

Rewards of good trolling.

Trolling, in general, is a pretty standard Barra-fishing technique, whether it is in saltwater or freshwater. The factors that impact on how you troll include boat speed, lure size, lure colour, swimming depth and distance behind the boat.

Corroboree Billabong is quite shallow where trolling lures successfully actually has an art to it. Whilst trolling slowly you should work your rod back and forth, thus enabling the ball bearings to give off the most amount of vibrations. Depending on your lure choice, the lure will rise, sink, or suspend as the line goes slack after each whack of the rod tip. It is during this hang time, when the lure is stationary, that it is most likely to be eaten.

Fighting Your Fish

The easiest way to keep the fish under control during a leaping display is to hold the rod tip close to the water. Keeping the tip towards the water with a tight line can keep the fish from launching, and expanding its mouth to throw the lure. This will not work all the time, but it is a good preventative measure.

After the first leap, Barra often head for cover, so be ready to put on the brakes and thumb the spool if necessary. During this time, most boat operators should be driving the boat from the edge of the bank into open water, where the angler can battle away from the structure.

Keeping the line tight, good pressure and the rod tip down (but bent) is usually the technique required to win the battle.

Corroboree Billabong really appeals to thousands of anglers who want Barra fishing at its finest but without all the heat thrown in.

From June to September, Darwin’s dry season whether weather is perfect for all outdoor activities. The temperature ranges from 14C to 32C with limited cloud activity and bright blue skies.

At this time, controlled bushfires often burn profusely in the outback and a hint of smoke fills the air. That in itself enhances the Top End’s spectacular sunsets, so all up you can see why so many anglers make the trek to beautiful Corroboree Billabong and its healthy Barra.