Truly an angler’s dream catch, the barramundi, also known as “large-scale silver fish”, serves as a great target most especially for those in Northern Australia. Leaping with might during the fight, it likewise proves to be worthy of the fisher’s strategies and skills when caught. But what sets this species apart from the others? What makes it so special? Read on.

Fast Facts about the Barramundi

Scientific name: Lates calcarifer

Also known as: Giant Perch, Barra, Silver Barramundi, Palmer Perch (incorrectly termed as Nile Perch)

Size: until 1.8 m, 60 kg; usually 1.2 m


Barras usually live in creeks, rivers, as well as in mangrove estuaries with turbid to clear waters. They also inhabit creeks and rivers with slow continuous flowing water flow, with temperatures more than 20°C. They also love hiding under rock ledges, logs, and other underwater structures.

Barramundis are also catadromous; meaning, they live mostly in fresh water but later move on to marine water when breeding.


Barras are known to be protoandrous hermaphrodytes. Thus, they’re born males and mature (at around 3 or 4 years old) as females. With this, we can easily tell from their size which is male or female.

barramundi fish

Females are able to produce several small, non-adhesive pelagic eggs with a size of 0.6 to 0.9 mm. In 15 to 20 hours, these eggs hatch – producing larvae reaching a length of 1.5 mm. Their eyes and mouth become developed already, even if the yolk sac is quite big. Once it reaches 2.5 mm, the mouth becomes large and opens, with the yolk sac shrinking and the pectoral fins growing. Afterwards, upon growing, they soon possess the usual characteristics inherent to young barras: with brown mottled markings, vertical white stripes throughout the head. Then, at 3.5 mm, the yolk sac disappears, fin rays appear and teeth develop well. After five days, the yolk sac totally disappears or gets absorbed. When they reach 8.5 mm, their fins develop fully.

Barras’ growth rate often varies but is quite faster compared with other species. At the end of every year, they reach the following lengths:

Year Length range (mm)
1 310 – 330
2 430 – 500
3 529 – 610
4 610 – 690
5 730 – 770
6 810+



Barras are often found in sub-tropical and tropical areas in the Indo-Pacific. They likewise inhabit areas of Southern China, the Persian Gulf, aside from known areas in Northern Australia and other parts of Southeast Asia. In Australia, you can locate them along the Maroochy and Mary river systems (along southeast Queensland then going north) as well as the whole of the northern coast up to Western Australia (specifically the Shark Bay).


Barramundis are carnivores. They eat crustaceans and smaller fish. Meanwhile, younger barras prefer smaller crustaceans and other small fish.


how to catch a barra

Interested to know more about how you can catch a barra? You’d better take note of these hints when preparing for your lures. As you see, they are receptive to either lures trolled or cast. Lures with a big minnow pattern work well too, most especially when they are under timber, within snags, roots of mangrove, and other heavy forms of cover. You can also use bronze or heavy metallic gold coloured lures.

Moreover, barras are well known when it comes to fly gear with heavier weight. They will likewise take on live bait such as macrobrachium (a large freshwater shrimp), prawns, and mullet. Although some would prefer dead baits, they are not highly recommended.

Barramundis as the Fish of Forbidden Love

Aside from the excitement brought by catching barras, I’ve come to learn the legend of these thrilling fellas. Very inspiring!

According to an Aboriginal folk tale, a long, long time ago (when there were still no fish) when there were only man, berries, animals, and roots, there lived two young lovers named Yalima and Boodi.

During those days, the tribes believed that women must marry elder men so that these women can take care of them. However, since Boodi and Yalima are both young, they needed to escape the wrath of the tribal leaders.

They ran far and wide until they reached the shore. They gathered wood for spears but since the tribesmen are many, they decided to jump right off the cliff and lived underwater. To avoid getting caught, they got used to hiding under mangroves. From then on, barramundis came into existence, according to this legend.

Those who know this legend also believe that barras are aphrodisiacs too. Hence, they call them ‘Passion Fish’.


What about you? Do barras have a special place in your heart? Did you have exciting times catching barramundis? Do you believe in the legend of the barramundi? Share your stories with us!