The best regions in Australia to target barramundi are the Northern Territory, the west side of Cape York Peninsula down to the lower Gulf of Carpentaria coast, and the WA Kimberley.
Of these regions, the Northern Territory offers the best combination of pristine habitat and accessibility.
The best barramundi rivers have unaltered floodplains that hold an “inland sea” of water during the wet season, letting the water slowly drain away after the wet season, leaving a series of permanent waterholes.
On the East Coast such rivers did exist, but were long ago transformed by dams and weirs, and their floodplains drained, severely affecting the barramundi populations, as barramundi require free passage from freshwater to salt each year.
Barramundi can be caught in tidal rivers, freshwater lagoons, and along coastal foreshores. They are a hardy and adaptable fish that can be found almost anywhere along the coast, although their preference is for turbid water and muddy creeks and rivers, rather than clear sandy waterways.
Barramundi tend to congregate in certain areas with the changing seasons, but can be found in any of their usual habitat at any time.
Fishermen who target big barramundi tend to fish the lower sections of big NT tidal rivers such as the Daly, Mary, Adelaide, and East and South Alligator Rivers, and some coastal creeks. Most big fish are caught just after the wet season.
The Northern Territory has excellent roads to boat ramps on most of its wild rivers, but finding barramundi hotspots on these vast waterways can be daunting.
That’s why many people hire professional barramundi guides.
Close to Darwin, the harbour is an excellent spot for smaller barramundi, as is nearby Shoal Bay and Bynoe Harbour. Anywhere with mangroves and tidal creeks, barramundi won’t be far away. A bonus in the NT is that gill nets have been banned from many areas.
The Northern Territory has a stocked dam which provides good fishing at times. Manton Dam is about an hour’s drive south of Darwin, and is a picturesque and safe place to take a family barramundi fishing.
Billabongs are popular venues for mostly smaller barramundi, which are caught in a setting among lillies and loads of wildlife. Billabongs also hold freshwater sportfish such as saratoga and tarpon. Never be tempted to have a swim though as big crocodiles are abundant in the NT.