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Fishing for Barracouta (Thyrsites atun)

Barracouta are an excellent sporting fish which will have a go at anything that sparkles and will jump clear of the water chasing lures which are trolled behind boats.

Angling & Fishing for Barracouta :

BarracoutaBarracouta are specifically fished for in southern states, but are generally regarded as a pest in New South Wales. They respond to a range of techniques, but are best caught by casting or trolling with lures such as a flashy, chromed spoons and silver or white jigs. The addition of a diving paravane to the rig ahead of the lure can often improve trolling results. Strips of fish flesh or whole pilchards and garfish on ganged hook rigs make excellent baits. Live baits attract plenty of interest, but many strikes are missed. A wire trace or ganged hooks are practically essential when fishing for barracouta.

Angler with good size barracouta, fishing for barracouta

Anglers in Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia have the right attitude to these fish. NSW anglers are just a little spoilt and get upset when barracouta grab baits meant for snapper, or lures meant for tailor or salmon. The fish is quite acceptable table fare, not brilliant but not too bad either. It fights reasonably well, at least as hard as a comparable tailor.

Barracouta take lures avidly even spectacularly at times when the 'couta are feeding at the surface. They even provide strikes on poppers if you like to get your jollies with visible takes. On top of the lure action the fish will take just about any bait and feeds anywhere from the surface to the bottom.

Barracouta often form very large schools and appear to 'invade' an area making it impossible to catch anything else. When this situation occurs, anglers often get frustrated and hurl abuse at the 'couta. The best thing to do in this situation is maximise the opportunities available and enjoy the fishing. The school behaviour of these fish can be quite irrational as they chase anything that moves. The fish will even leap at a lure suspended above the water.

Professional anglers often troll huge numbers of these fish by using a jig on a short length of line attached to a long pole. The barracouta concentrate in areas that hold plenty of bait fish particularly around shallow reefs, offshore islands, around headlands and in many of the deep bays along the southern coastline. While the fish do appear in huge numbers, more standard captures feature anything from five to twenty fish. The size of the fish varies from one to four kilograms with most schools containing fish of roughly the same size. The schools are most easily located by trolling the area first with either squid type lures or medium sized minnows. Once the fish are located, the trolling can continue if the fish are thick or the school can be worked with spinning lures, or bait.

Lure Choice:
Metal lures in the 30 to 60 gram range are ideal. The best style of lures are those with a strong action at medium speed. Big Wonder Wobblers, Toby or Croc spoons are ideal. Bait anglers do well with cut strip baits or whole small fish.

Whole pilchards fished on gangs are deadly on these fish. When fishing with bait and lures it is important to use a small amount of light wire trace to avoid bite offs from either the hooked fish, or its ravenous mates. Often anglers simply float a pilchard or cast a lure while fishing for other species to add a few 'couta to the bag. The best tackle for catching barracouta is a double handed spinning rod about 2.2 metres long and a medium sized thread line fitted with 6 kg line. However, virtually any sort of tackle will do the job. The spinning rod allows the angler to holding box.

Be careful even handling dead fish, the teeth, gills and spines on the back can all do damage. Unfortunately the barracouta regularly take a fancy to bottom baits fished on heavy leads for snapper, morwong and other deepwater fish. Not only do they attack the bait, but at times they attack the sinker. With their savage dental equipment plus their school behaviour many bottom rigs can be lost in a fishing session. This does not endear them to some anglers. Despite all the negatives there would be a lot of empty fishboxes if not for the barracouta. There are many days in any anglers life when a few good 'couta would be better than a creel that is empty.

Saltwater Fish - What bait to use for fishing - a list of saltwater baits with the main "diners" who will be tempted.

See Also: 
Information on Barracouta & Snook

Angling & Fishing for Barracouta & Snook

Commercial Fishing for Barracouta & Snook

Cooking Barracouta & Snook Recipes


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