Sunday, February 7, 2010

Finetune your barramundi fishing

If you want to catch more fish, one way to do this is to finetune your fishing. The definition of finetuning is ‘to make small adjustments to something in order to achieve the best possible performance or appearance’.

Finetuning your fishing can result in consistently catching fish. The detail is usually the difference between a highly successful angler and one with average results.

Johnny Mitchell, owner of Lake Awoonga guided barra fishing charters has been fishing and working with the ocean and nature for a large part of his life. He has developed a highly detailed knowledge on everything to do with fishing and is very experienced with impoundment barramundi, which he spends many days of the week guiding clients onto.

His guided fishing charters on Lake Awoonga have become known as a very consistent and quality fishing business, where Johnny guides anglers to catch barramundi on lures in the daylight, time after time, in all conditions - an extremely challenging feat.

His advice and ideas on fishing has assisted us to reach high levels of success in both ABT BARRA tournaments and the Australian Fishing Championships. For the past 4 years we have known him, we have fished with him on many occasions at Lake Awoonga, Peter Faust Dam, Monduran Dam and the saltwater around Gladstone, so we have a good idea on the reasons he catches so many fish.

So here’s some ways you can learn from Johnny about finetuning for success when targeting the barramundi of Queensland’s impoundments.


When choosing a lure to put on the end of his clients lines, Johnny makes sure he has a lure with the best possible chance at tempting a fish to strike. With this, he generally modifies the lure to improve its swimming action, sink or float rate and lure strength.

Johnny once said to us ‘what lure doesn’t need to be changed or altered in some way to catch more fish?’ We agreed as we also make changes to almost every lure to get more bites and land more fish.

It can be a good idea to adjust the weight of the soft plastic you’re using to the area you’re fishing. If you’re fishing very shallow water with weed growth, trimming some weight out of the lead will make the plastic sink slower and not into the thick weeds.

Johnny also adds lead weight to his floating hardbody lures by using ‘sticky-weight’ or super gluing a small amount of lead to the lure. This makes the lures rise very slowly or suspend in the barramundi’s face.

Another thing Johnny does to his soft plastics is to check to make sure the plastic swims straight and not to one side. After that he often trims some of the plastic from the tail of the lure. This frees up the tail and gives it a bit more beat and vibration in the water for fish to detect.


Johnny’s skills in lure retrieving are first class and he seems to know what fish want. When he fishes with us, he always winds nice and slow and keeps the lure in the strike zone.

He also puts in different movements of the lure to trigger fish into biting. By adding a combination of small pauses and tiny rod pulses, he makes the lure look and sound very realistic swimming through the water.

We were once fishing at the back of his boat at anchor and casting our lures with a fairly straight retrieve through the strike zone. Johnny then put on a hardbody lure with a slow, fine-tuned retrieve and caught a fish almost straight away. This shows how productive a well-tuned lure and retrieve can be at triggering fish to bite.


Another part of fishing that you can finetune to get better results is in your casting. Johnny is a master at casting long and accurately, placing the lure well into the strike zone.

When fishing in the saltwater for barramundi, we were amazed at how Johnny could cast his lures deep in past the strike zone with great accuracy. The result was he caught more fish than us as he could place the lure deep into the back of the area and retrieve through where the fish where – right in close to cover.

Doing this from a distance is even trickier, especially when there is some wind to blow your lure and line around. Casting accuracy isn’t something that can be finetuned overnight, but with experience and practice, you can get much better fishing results by being able to get your lure right where you want it.
Boat position

When going for a fish in one of the barramundi impoundments, it can be easy to focus on main things such as what lure you’re going to tie on but other aspects like boat positioning and stealth can be equally important.

When driving into a fishing spot with charter clients, boat positioning and stealth are two things Johnny puts a lot of attention towards. Johnny will usually turn the outboard motor off well out from the targeted fishing area. By drifting in with the wind or slowly moving in with the electric motor, most barramundi in the location are not aware of his presence and will focus on feeding opportunities rather than safety.

Putting the boat in the right spot is an art and Johnny is a master at it. When fishing with him, he positions the boat so you can just reach the target area on a long cast. Positioning your boat too close to the area can spook some fish and too far out can make it hard to reach the strike zone with your casts. There is a ‘sweet spot’ in the middle where a long cast just reaches the back of the strike zone and this is where you want your boat to be for maximum chance at catching barramundi.

Try it out

These are some parts of fishing that Johnny has finetuned over the years to be consistently successful when lure fishing.
Finetuning these aspects of your fishing and putting them into use on the barramundi impoundments will put more fish in your boat.