Posts Tagged ‘Boats for Casting’

Barramundi Fishing Boats

You can catch a barramundi out of any boat. The barramundi do not know the difference.

It is more enjoyable however to fish from a boat that is designed for the purpose.

You will be casting, trolling or bait fishing.

When casting for barramundi, crews of two or three fishermen cast lures to anywhere that barramundi are likely to lurk.

A barramundi fishing boat (bottom) converted from an old runabout (above), the raised casting platform allows easy lure fishing

A barramundi fishing boat (bottom) converted from an old runabout (above), the raised casting platform allows easy lure fishing

This requires a stable boat with casting decks. The raised decks make fishing more enjoyable by increasing the field of view. They also help spread fishermen across the length of the boat, minimising the chances of them hooking their mates. Casting decks also provide below-deck storage space.

Casting decks can be built around centre, side and rear console designs, or with in boats with tiller steering.

Trolling is less demanding on boat design, as you are just pulling lures behind the boat.

The same could be said of bait fishing, where baits are dropped over the side. Ideally a bait fishing boat has no cabin, so baits can easily be worked over a 360 degree area. Many bait fishermen also cast lures while waiting for a bite.

What all barra boats need are reasonably shallow draught, long range, speed, storage and sun protection. A reliable engine and tough hull material that withstands knocks also helps greatly, with alloy the most popular hull material.

The two pictures show a project boat under construction. I converted my father’s old front-steering runabout into a barra boat with a raised casting deck. The pictures explain themselves. It is an unusual design that makes good use of space – the casting platform provides lots of storage space underneath, with enough floor space to sleep two people comfortably.

Putting a casting platform into an old hull is easy enough, using either timber or alloy. Customising a boat can be a lot of fun.

Barramundi fishing vehicles

A four-wheel-drive vehicle is a distinct advantage in northern Australia, but by no means essential to go barramundi fishing.

While many of the best fishing spots have sealed road access and concrete ramps, some do not. Four-wheel-drive gives you piece of mind, especially when launching from the banks of rivers and billabongs.

The wet season sometimes creates boggy conditions for those driving on unsealed roads. And who wants to be restricted to sealed roads?

Billabong and river banks in remote are much easier to launch from with a 4WD vehicle, although most areas now have boat ramps.

Travel preparations

Whatever vehicle you will use for barramundi fishing, ensure the cooling system is in first-class working order because travelling a hot Territory road with a trailer in tow will quickly test a poor cooling system.

If driving up from south, always carry extra cooling water. Carry spare fan belts, preferably two spare tyres, or puncture repair products. If you are going bush in a 4WD vehicle you should carry recovery gear. A snatch strap, kangaroo jack and spade are a minimum requirement. A winch is handy, but the best safety policy when going to truly remote areas is to travel with another vehicle. Nowadays, most places are well visited, so help is usually at hand.

Barramundi fishing requires trevalling long distances to reach some of the hotspots.

For this reason, a long-range fuel tank or a couple of jerry cans can be invaluable, and you should also carry a back-up supply of drinking water. Large, good quality cool boxes or portable fridges are essential for keeping perishables fresh. If you are planning a trip to a remote area, get a detailed map.

The ideal barramundi fishing boat

The beauty of the Top End is that you only need a small boat to enjoy many of the waterways, and that is why the Territory is the home of the aluminium dinghy.

Sure, there are remote islands and shoals accessible only to those who own a larger boat.

But you can always visit these places on a charter boat. I have listed here the perfect fleet for fishing the Top End. Few people could afford such a fleet, so I have also described an ideal all-round boat.

A specialist barramundi fishing boat is usually from 4.5m to 6m in length with a suitable engine for high-speed travel. It has front and rear casting decks. It has long-range fuel and an electric motor for quiet trolling. A good sounder/GPS unit is useful, if not essential. The boat will also have ample water storage and eskie space, plus a radio or satellite phone. It will have space to stow camping gear, and a canopy that can be easily stowed so as to not get in the way when the fish are biting.

Hulls can be any hard-wearing material, usually alloy or polly (plastic), as collisions with rocks and tree stumps are common.

A barramundi jumps

Barramundi fishing car-toppers

A 3.5m lightweight cartopper punt or V-bottom with 3hp outboard is handy for places where there is no boat ramp. This lightweight rig is for those hard-to-get-at inland billabongs and upstream reaches where you must launch from the bank and manhandle the boat over rocks and other obstacles.

The boat is too small for the big rivers and harbour arms and offers little crocodile or poor-weather safety. It fishes two people comfortably.

Barramundi fishing dinghies

A 3.8m to 4.8m dinghy or punt with 30hp to 50hp outboard is ideal for tackling the Top End’s tidal rivers, harbour arms and creeks. Whether you choose a runabout (steering at front), centre console (steering in middle) or tiller mount (steering at rear) is up to you. Runabouts tend to be least popular.

Family fishermen might prefer a runabout, but a centre console or tiller mount is best for fishing because it gives the most room. This boat fishes three or four people comfortably, but only two will fish happily in the smaller sizes, as there is a lot of lure casting in barramundi fishing, and having treble hooks whizzing around in a small boat is not safe.

Offshore rigs

There is a huge range of trailerable 5m to 6.5m half-cabins, cuddy cabins and runabouts used down south. The bigger the boat, the more range, load-carrying capacity, safety … and price. These boats aren’t ideal for barramundi fishing, but they will get you into remote areas. A larger boat in centre console layout will fish well for barramundi, as there is no cabin taking up space.

There is plenty of reef fishing to enjoy far off Darwin, and cabin craft aren’t a bad way to get there. But avoid small half-cabins if you are serious about your fishing. The cabin is often ultimately considered just hot and a waste of space in the tropics.

The all-rounder

We will take a punt (excuse the pun) at choosing the perfect all-round boat for the Top End. It’s a 5m aluminium centre console hull with a 60hp to 115hp outboard motor. The hull is big enough to fish coastal reefs, yet small enough to take fishing in the rivers and billabongs. It is light to tow and draws little water. A centre console provides the most space, fishing four people.

Useful extras for barramundi fishing

Aside from fishing tackle and serviceable safety gear, every fishing boat should carry:
1. Global Positioning Unit (GPS);
2. Quality echo sounder;
3. Shade canopy;
4. Rodholders;
5. Soft seats (or pieces of foam rubber);
6. Livebait tank or net;
7. Gaff and landing net;
8. Quality ice-box;
9. First-aid kit;
10. Camera;
11. Fuel and outboard oil reserve (perhaps 20L of petrol and 500ml of oil).

Trailers for the north

Do not buy the cheapest trailer you can find. The mudguards will probably fall off as you drive down the first corrugated road. Heat and humidity means you should get a solid galvanised trailer.

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