Q&A with Barra or Blue Fishing Charters

Lincoln Kirby set up Barra or Blue Fishing Charters three years ago, drawing on his extensive knowledge as a fishing guide to share his passion with anyone ready to throw a line. We chatted to Lincoln to find out more.

Why should people visit the NT during the Wet Season/Tropical Summer to catch barra?

Barra are more active at this time. During the dry season they are a bit docile, but once the water temperature warms up they fire up a lot more, and you have a better chance of reeling in a fish.

Is this your favourite fishing season?

The run off between March and April is my favourite time. The weather’s good and the fish are biting, with lots of action around the mouths of creeks inside the rivers.

What’s your top fishing spot in the NT?

It would have to be Dundee Beach, about 59km southwest of Darwin. There’s so much variety. You can be out on a boat in the morning chasing barra and in the afternoon go for sail fish and red emperor. You can pretty much catch everything there.

Why do you think so many people come to the Territory to chase barra?

They’re such an iconic fish. They fight hard, and are not easy to catch. Barra are a challenge and people like a challenge. Down south, catching a whiting or flathead is the staple fish, whereas up here we have barra. Barra would be the Number 1 sporting fish in the Northern Territory and Australia-wide.

What’s your go-to fishing hack?

Have a good time. As long as you’re enjoying yourself, you’ll catch something. Having the right attitude attracts the fish. Works every time.

What’s a top tip for someone fishing for barra in the NT for the first time?

Go with a guide. Instead of spending days and weeks on the water trying to find where all the barra are, go with someone who knows about all the good spots. That way you can relax and use your time to do what you’ve come to the Northern Territory for – catching a prized barra, especially a million dollar one.

Any tips for lures?

We have a term called matching the hatch. Basically, it means you need to match your style of lure to the size, colour, and shape of a barra’s current natural prey, to mimic what they are feeding on that day. If the barra are eating small bait fish we run smaller plastics. If they’re eating bigger mullet we run big, hard-body lures. If you match the hatch, your chances of bagging a barra increase greatly.

What’s your most memorable catch?

A 110cm caught on a lure at Shady Camp as the sun was going down on a 60-fish day. It was an epic day finished off with an epic fish. Outside of the Territory, it was an 80kg striped marlin caught in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. As the second fastest fish in the world, it was one of the most exciting and toughest challenges of my fishing life.

What’s your bucket-list fish?

It’d have to be the Papuan Black Bass. I nearly made it to Papua New Guinea this year on a trip, but couldn’t go due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Q&A with AFL legend Steven May

Raised in Darwin, Melbourne Football Club key defender Steven May has an affinity with the Territory and spent much of his childhood wetting a line across the Top End. We sat down with the AFL legend recently to chat about his go-to spots to wet a line and his fool-proof fishing hack.

When did you first start fishing?

I was about 10 years old I think. We lived in Palmerston growing up so I used to go out fishing at the Elizabeth River Bridge just about every weekend.

Where’s your go-to spot to fish in the Territory?

My favourite locations would have to be Shady Camp and Dundee. I’ve also got some good little secret spots around Channel Island.

What’s the biggest barra you’ve ever caught?

The biggest one I’ve snagged was 98cm but I tell everyone it was a metery!

Where is your favourite fishing destination in the world?

I just love barra fishing at the turn of the tides, and then heading out to chase jewies. As I grew up in Darwin, the Territory would have to be my favourite fishing destination!

What’s your best fishing hack?

My top tip is to play Kings of Leon over the speakers when you haven’t had a bite in a while – jewies, goldies and sharks seem to like their song ‘Closer’!

Q&A with Mousie’s Barra and Bluewater Fishing Charters

Shannon Latham (aka Mousie) has been a mad keen fisherman his whole life. Originally from NSW, he turned his obsession for fish and the Territory into a business when he set up Mousie’s Barra & Bluewater Fishing Charters with his partner Mie in 2009. We chatted to Mousie to find out more.

Which fishing season is your favourite?
The Run Off. No surprises there. It’s the time after the Wet Season where all the water flows off the floodplains back into the river system, and the barra are waiting to ambush the baitfish that come down, too.

Where’s your favourite fishing spot in the Territory?
My top spot is the Daly River. I was a guide there for many years and have had great success fishing with clients and on social trips. This is where my partner, Mie, and I started the business. It was her idea, and I’m so glad I listened. Best thing I’ve ever done. The scenery around the Daly River is also unique and beautiful with exceptional wildlife. I have great memories of fishing the Daly. We’re mainly based in the Daly for the Build Up and Run Off and later in the year we fish off Dundee and other spots in Darwin.

What’s been your most memorable fishing trip with customers?
It’s impossible to reel off just one. We have such a diversity of people on board. Everyone wants to catch a fish and each person’s reaction to landing one is different. But seeing how blown away people are when they catch their first barra, especially their first metery, now that really is something.

Why do you think so many people come to the Territory to chase barra?
I’d say the size and number of barra we have here, and for the river systems and coastal areas open to fishing. You can easily combine barra fishing with other experiences as well, such as visiting our national parks and getting to know the history of the Territory. There is a lot of history out here, especially in the Daly, which is one of those quirky outback places.

What’s your go-to fishing hack?
Finding fish on the sounder. That way I can tell my clients where to cast, which improves their chances of catching a barra, and hopefully the one that’s worth a million bucks.

What’s your most memorable catch?
A 133cm barra caught on the Daly. It was back in 2014 and I was on a boat fishing with a mate visiting from Sydney. The barra jumped out of the water six times. It was pretty impressive to see a fish that size leaping out of the water. It was the first barra my mate has ever netted, and he was really excited. It was also good to see her swim away after taking some great photos.

What’s your bucket-list fish?
I’d love to catch a Papuan black bass, just because of the sheer size of them. These fish have a reputation for big, bone-jarring hits and powerful fighting tactics once you have them hooked. Pound for pound, these fish are often revered as the toughest freshwater fish on the planet.

What Million Dollar Fish product are you offering for Season 6?
A tour called ‘One in a Million Barramundi Charter’. If a client catches a Million Dollar Fish tagged barra, the angler will get another free charter for him or herself, plus a mate.

Why should people visit the NT during the build-up and Wet Season to catch barra?
The Build Up is a good time to go fishing as the water warms up with the weather. The fish get more active with the warmer weather, which increases your chances of catching a barra. It’s also a great time to see the storms and light shows.

What’s the best way to catch barra?
Casting lures into creek mouths or Run Off using a good-quality rod and reel is my go-to. This usually happens on my boat, but there are places you can go and do land-based fishing.

Is there any time of day that’s best to lure in a barra?
My preference is to chase the change of tide, as it makes the baitfish come out of their hiding spots, straight into the path of waiting barra.

Q&A with NT celebrity chef Jimmy Shu

We sat down with NT celebrity chef Jimmy Shu recently to talk all things fishing in the Top End.

When did you start fishing?

When I was 15. I’m now 71.

Where’s your go-to Territory fishing spot?

The Peron Islands off Dundee Beach.

What’s the biggest fish you’ve ever caught?

An 18kg groper.

Where is your favourite fishing destination in the world?

The English Channel Islands off Gove.

What’s your best fishing hack?

Pick a great skipper / No bananas.

Favourite fish recipe?

Meen Moolie, which is Hanuman’s most popular fish curry. Wild-caught barramundi poached in coconut cream infused with Humpty Doo lemongrass and curry leaves. Check out the recipe below!



Servings: 6 | Prep Time: 25 mins | Skill Level: 1 (Easy)

600g reef fish fillets, skin removed, cut into chunky cubes
2 tbsp vegetable oil
180g sliced red onion
2 sticks lemongrass, bruised
3 red bird’s eye chillies, bruised
2 sprigs curry leaves
15g sliced ginger
200g fresh tomato wedges
600ml coconut cream
1 tsp turmeric
Approx 100 ml water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Fresh curry leaves, to garnish

1. Season the fish with a touch of salt.
2. Heat oil and stir fry the onion, lemongrass, chillies, curry leaves and ginger over a medium flame, until the onions are soft. Add the tomato and cook for approximately 5 minutes.
3. Next, add the coconut cream and turmeric, bring to the boil and lower the flame. Add up to ½ cup water if too thick. Add salt and sugar, and check the seasoning.
4. Gently add the fish pieces and poach in the coconut broth for 6 minutes. Garnish with fresh curry leaves and serve immediately.


Tips for land-based success

Don’t have a boat but busting to get out and catch a red-tagged barra?

We had a chat with local fishing legend Hiro Nakamura who shared his land-based secrets for catching a barra around Darwin.

Where is your go-spot for land-based barra fishing?

The best place for land-based barramundi fishing near Darwin City is in saltwater. The rocky areas scattered along the shoreline are recommended. A crowd of oysters is a must on those rocks.

What are the best tides for catching a barra?

The best tide shifts with the best fishing point every hour. If the tide is running, there is a chance of catching a barramundi. However, the barramundi are less active at midday.

What equipment do you need when land-based fishing?

Spiked boots or felt soled shoes are preferable when walking on rocky ground to prevent slipping and falling and injuries, and gloves are also necessary to prevent serious injury to your hands from oysters if you fall.

Where is the best spot to target barra during the Wet Season?

After heavy rains, fishing for barramundi in the creeks is recommended.

Any other tips?

There are no absolutes in fishing, so if you don’t catch one today, you may catch one tomorrow.

Q&A with Blane Simmons from Frontier Fishing

Blane Simmons is the owner and skipper of the ‘Swordfish’ a 65’ Royal Navy motor yacht. He has fished the world over and with more than 20 years’ experience fishing and running boats in the Territory has the knowledge to turn fishing trips into a lasting memory. We chatted to Blane to find out more.

Which fishing season is your favourite?

For me, it would be towards the end of the wet season, during the runoff. Having said that, anytime I can go fishing is a good time.

Where’s your favourite fishing spot in the Territory?

I don’t really have one. I enjoy my fishing and base my choices on where the fish are. This can vary from year to year, month to month, day to day. What was a great spot yesterday might be completely different today. I like variety in my fishing and so, yes, wherever the fish are that’s my spot.

Why do you think so many people come up to the Territory to chase barra?

The iconic barra is on every fisho’s bucket-list. They are probably eight to 10 species of fish that anglers across Australia and around the world want to reel in and barra are right there at the top. They’re a challenge and put up a good fight – a great fish to catch on your own merit with your own ability.

What’s your go-to fishing hack?

The more time you spend on the water, whether you’re land based or on a boat, the better chance you have of catching a fish. Don’t give up, either. That’s my advice.

What’s your most memorable catch?

I enjoy all the fish I catch. I don’t think in terms of my best catch or best day as it sets up too many expectations. The trick to having a memorable day fishing is heading out with an open mind.

What’s your bucket list fish?

That’s a hard one. I’ve been fishing and running boats in the Northern Territory for the past 20 years. I have also fished extensively in Africa, South America, Fiji, and remote areas in Papua New Guinea. If I had to choose, I’d say a Nile perch. It’s similar to a barra, but these beasts can grow up to 2m and weigh up to 200kg. The biggest a barra will grow to is 1.5m. Mind you if you hooked a barra that size you’d know about it.

What Million Dollar Fish product are you offering for Season 6?

With our tours clients can chase barra alongside light game, reef and pelagic species on a live-aboard fishing charter in remote Territory waters. These untouched areas are the stuff dreams are made of. Catch a Season 6 million-dollar tagged barra while you’re on one of our tours and you’re in with a chance to win a seven-day charter worth $5,950.

Why should people visit the NT during the Wet Season/Tropical Summer to catch barra? 

With the water temperatures rising over the summer months the barra love to bite. Another time to consider is after the monsoon rains in March– known locally as the runoff as the flooded rivers run off enormous wetlands into coastal creeks. It’s a sensational time for barra with lots of action but it can be hard to access some of these areas because of flooding and muddy roads.

What is the best time of day to catch barra? 

Some say early in the morning and late in the evening is best. But I wouldn’t stress over the time of day too much. Barra can be caught all day and all night, any time really.

Check out Frontier Fishing’s Million Dollar Fish tour here on our Fishing Experiences page.

Q&A with HeliFish Pub Crawl

Darwin-based HeliFish has been operating in the Territory since 2008. HeliFish has a whopper of a deal where if you travel with them during Season 6 and catch a $10K Barra they’ll double your money with a bonus $10K! We chatted to HeliFish Pilot/Fishing Guide Shaun Wild to find out more.

Which fishing season is your favourite?

The run-off, probably no surprises there, but the activity stirred up by the sheer volume of water on the flood plains and in the estuaries turns fishing into catching most days. As a fishing guide having guests with tight lines all day makes this job very hard to beat.

Where’s your favourite fishing spot in the Territory?

My #1 pick would have to be Anson Bay. The remoteness of the area means we rarely see anyone else and the fish stocks are consistently high with great variety. More of our customers have reeled in their bucket-list “metery” in this area than anywhere else we visit. Fishing aside, the scenic flight out to Anson is often a real life Attenborough-style documentary unfolding before your eyes. There are days it must be one of the most spectacular landscape and wildlife displays in Australia. I’ve watched dingos chasing pigs, large herds of water buffalo, enormous crocodiles and sharks, all from the air, as well as brolgas and jabiru stalking prey in the wetlands and kites soaring on the thermals. Definitely do not forget your camera (and a spare memory card or two).

Why do you think so many people come up to the Territory to chase barra?

Territorians are renowned for their welcoming, laid-back nature. No-one is in a hurry. There’s always time for a chat plus the barra fishing just happens to be the best in Australia! The fishing options are endless and there is no shortage of quality operators keen to share their secret spots with you.

What’s your go-to fishing hack?

Don’t skimp on quality lure. My go to right now are Flat Shads and Live Mullet Lures from Zerek … woompa, you’re on!

What’s your most memorable catch?

Without a doubt the excitement of helping a customer land a tagged Million Dollar Fish barra. Spending the remainder of the day not knowing the value of the tag until we got back to civilisation was something none of us will forget in a hurry. Unfortunately, it was the one that got away! A $10K fish and 4 weeks past Season 5’s end date, but what an experience just the same and it certainly has the lads itching for Season 6 to arrive again.

What’s your bucket list fish?

The one with the million dollar tag in it, of course.

What Million Dollar Fish product are you offering for Season 6?

Travel with HeliFish during Season 6, catch a $10K Barra and we’ll double your money with a bonus $10K! Clients can either take a half-day or full-day HeliFish tour or a HeliFish-Pub Crawl Combo.

Why should people visit the NT during the Wet Season/Tropical Summer to catch barra? 

In the Wet Season, everything is so green and alive and the barra are out in numbers, you rarely miss out. Sure it’s hot, it’s sticky but there is literally an electricity in the air. It’s the greatest show on earth, watching and listening to a tropical storm roll by and enjoying a cold beer after a great day’s fishing.

Check out HeliFish’s Million Dollar Fish tour here on our Fishing Experiences page.

Q&A with Supercars driver David Reynolds

We caught up with Aussie racing driver David Reynolds to chat all things fishing.

When did you first start fishing?

I’m not normally known as a fisherman, but I caught my first fish in the Sydney Harbour about 27 years ago and it was a Stone fish. A rare fish to catch and quite deadly.

Where’s your go-to spot to fish in the Territory?

Tiwi Island is the best fishing spot I’ve ever been to.

What’s the biggest barra you’ve ever caught?

69cm – I caught it while I was helping tag a fish for this season. Check him out below!

Where is your favourite fishing destination?

Anywhere in the Northern Territory is some of the greatest fishing in the country.

What’s your best fishing hack?

Taking Matt Wright! He solves all your problems.

David Reynolds with Matt Wright