If you hook a barramundi at Lake Belmore in the Gulf Savannah, the chances are that it started life in Karumba at the Barramundi Discovery Centre.
The Carpentaria Shire Council hatchery supplies barramundi fingerlings for a number of Gulf waterways, including the Albert River in Burketown and the Norman River in Karumba, which are popular with anglers wanting to hook the feisty fish.
Centre coordinator Chris McDonald said the addition of the young barramundi into the river systems helped boost stock, especially in poor seasons, and was essential for freshwater water bodies like Lake Belmore near Croydon, which would be devoid of barramundi otherwise.
“We had a record spawn last year of 125,000 fingerlings and 70,000 of those went into the Norman River alone so in about three years’ time when they are legal size people will be reeling them in,” he said.
During the Gulf Savannah’s peak season between April and early October, the hatchery opens its doors to visitors wanting to learn more about the Gulf’s most famous fish and hand feed some of the larger ones.
“Visitors get a kick out of watching our breeding stock snap at the squid and pilchards thrown to them, especially when they see the larger barra, which are well over one metre in length,” Chris said.
“We promote sustainability to the people who come to the hatchery by talking to them about catch and release practices and good handling methods.”
Of course the most important question Chris always get is where is the best spot to catch a barramundi during the open season from February to the start of October in the Gulf.
“I recommend straight off the beach in front of the rotunda at Karumba Point, either early morning or late afternoon with a live mullet or slow rolling a soft plastic lure,” Chris added.
“At Lake Belmore you will most likely catch one of the barramundi that were bred at the hatchery with a surface lure at night in the shallows.”
The Barramundi Discovery Centre is open from April to early October. Ph: 07 4745 9359, 148 Yappar Street, Karumba.