A mere 45km from the Northern Territory border, remote WA town Kununurra provides a terrific base to explore parts of the vast Kimberley – WA’s northernmost region. Western Angler editor Scott Coghlan’s latest edition of Scott’s Spots pinpoints the go-to locations near Kununurra to catch big barramundi!
If you can’t handle the heat get out of the kitchen, but if you can, then fishing Kununurra might be right up your alley!
The Kimberley town can be brutally hot at times, especially during the build-up to, and during, wet season when the average temperature hovers at close to 40C and there is high humidity.
For southern visitors, the dry season months from May to August offer a less punishing prospect, with temperatures hovering around the low to mid-30C.
Although the heat might be off-putting for some fishers, the conditions are exactly what the barramundi love – and that’s why Kununurra is the ideal Kimberley base to go hunting big barra.
Indeed, there is a strong push on to make Kununurra the sort of high quality impoundment fishery that the east coast boasts.
The impoundment barra fisheries in the Eastern States are huge drivers of local tourism and the restocking of Lake Kununurra with barra, supported by Recfishwest, in recent years has the potential to do the same.
Plenty of barra measuring more than 1m are already swimming around Lake Kununurra after thousands of juvenile fish were stocked, with fast growth rates due to the abundance of food in the lake.
So far it has been mainly locals who have unlocked the secrets of the lake barra, but as its popularity grows we can expect to see some impressive fish caught.
The ability to access the fishery from the heart of town at the boat ramp, and the lack of saltwater crocodiles, should make it a popular location with visiting anglers looking to catch the elusive ‘metrey’ in coming years without having to venture right into the Kimberley wilds.
The lake is not only home to barra though, with it also offering some fun light-tackle opportunities for other freshwater species.
Solid sooty grunter can be found around weed banks and along the shore structure offered by the fringing bush, offering a similar experience to casting lures around snags for black bream in the State’s south.
There are also archerfish and freshwater longtom to be caught, while the lake is also home to some big catfish that will prove a challenge to stop in many locations.
Spillway Creek, on the way to Lake Argyle, has been to known to produce some exciting barramundi fishing at times.
The lake was originally part of the Ord River and the lower Ord is still one of the iconic barramundi fisheries of the Kimberley.
The last couple of years have seen average fishing by the mighty Ord’s standards, due to average wet seasons that have meant fish numbers are down.
However, there are still some popular spots where some good fish can be caught by shore and boat anglers using both baits and lures.
Shore anglers should be very wary of crocs, and a boat will improve access to more locations.
One option for anyone keen to catch a big barra is to book a trip with the legendary Hairy Dog Harman, of Ultimate Adventures.
No one knows these waters like Hairy and he has put many clients on their dream fish.
Ivanhoe Crossing is a popular spot with visitors and locals, and despite the fishing pressure, continues to produce good numbers of fish in a range of sizes.
Wading on the Ord is not everyone’s cup of tea due to the crocs, but people cast from the crossing and every now and then a big fish is landed along with many smaller ones, while many a lure is lost to the underwater structure.
Kununurra is a good base to explore some other great Kimberley fishing locations. Near the Northern Territory border, the Keep River is a popular location and can offer some excellent fishing for barramundi, in both its salt and freshwater sections.
There are some very big crocs here, so again use caution around the water’s edge. A small boat again offers more access both upstream and downstream from the crossing.
The Pentecost River crosses the Gibb River Road and is an excellent barra fishery.
For those looking for a really challenging fishing experience, remote Cape Domett offers that in spades.
Access into Domett is almost impossible during the wet season, but the adventurous can tow a small boat around 180km in and launch it down a steep bank, opening up access to a maze of creeks and eventually the open ocean.
The creeks are home to numerous big barra, fingermark, mangrove jack and northern mulloway. Blue and threadfin salmon can be caught in the open water, along with trevally and mackerel.
There are also freshwater billabongs around Kununurra that locals fish which will produce barra, sooty grunter and even tarpon.
Another option for visiting anglers is to try their hand at helifishing.
These amazing tours can be booked in town and offer access to remote spots which rarely see an angler, with a helicopter flight over the Kimberley a memorable experience.
There is no shortage of accommodation options in Kununurra, including several caravan parks right on the edge of the lake and the town features all the essential facilities visitors are likely to require.
You can also hire a houseboat and spend your stay floating around on the lake, wetting a line as you go.
Although the heat will deter some, when the weather is at its warmest the barra will be most active, so the rewards are certainly there for those prepared to deal with a bit of discomfort and the rugged scenery of the Kimberley is not bad compensation if the fish aren’t biting!