Lures & Actions
Lake Kununurra can be fished like most freshwater impoundments and waterways with hard body lures, soft plastics, vibes and topwater lures such as poppers and fizzers.
Are hard body lures effective?
Bibbed hard body lures are very effective when casting or trolling near deep timber, around rock bars and other fish-holding structure in Lake Kununurra. Using the right depth lure will increase your chances of landing a trophy fish. In your tackle box you’d need to cover depths form 1m down to 6m-8m. Hard bodies that are 150mm to 180mm are the go-to, with Halco RMG Scorpions, Barra Classics and Jackal Squirrels all successful in tempting big barra.
Trolling hard body lures is quite productive in the right location. Lake Kununurra is unique as it has a constant water flow. However, given this constant flow of water coming down the river, the ribbon weed that follows can make trolling challenging at times. Finding pockets, backwater or current without weed it’s definitely worth a shot and allows you to cover more water and locate the areas which are holding fish.
How about soft plastics?
Large soft plastics have become a primary choice among savvy anglers chasing big barra in the lake. Soft plastics are quite adaptable to various locations throughout the lake, given there are multiple ways they can be rigged and subsequently fished. By having a range of jig heads and hidden weight hook systems all water levels can be fished. Rigging a plastic traditionally on a jig head will cover most areas. Also, potentially add a stinger (treble hook) to the front tow point of the jig head to increase the hook-up ratio. Just make sure that you are using a hook that leaves a large gap from the body of the soft plastic.
Soft plastic hooks with a hidden weight system are fantastic in reducing the chance of snagging the structure or the suspended weed in the system. These can be modified with reflective blades, stinger hooks and extra weight all increasing the chance of hooking one of the lakes residents.
Suggested plastics include big paddle-tails including Z-Man DieZel MinnowZ or Berkley Powerbait Hollowbellys in the 150mm to 200mm range. Molix Shads are a hybrid pre-rigged lure that have been very successful in Lake Kununurra. They come in 140mm and 185mm sizes.
Soft plastics are best fished with a very slow retrieve allowing the lure to slowly body roll back to the angler. It’s vitally important to allow the correctly rigged plastic to sink to the correct depth before retrieving and allowing long pauses for the lure to get back down to the desired depth.
Do Lake Kununurra barra take soft vibes?
For many fishers, including a couple of in-the-know locals, soft vibes are a great way to fish Lake Kununurra. Soft vibes are terrific for casting upstream, letting the lure sink to the riverbed then slowly lifting or twitching the vibe up off the bottom, retrieving the slack before allowing it to sink back to the bottom. However, if you’re fishing an area with plenty of structure, be careful of snags – it might become an expensive fishing method if you ultimately lose a few vibes! In addition to the barra, the catfish found throughout Lake Kununurra also find vibes hard to resist, so be prepared for big battles with these grunting monsters.
Surely surface lures aren’t effective in the lake?
Under the cloak of darkness, as an option, fishers often delve into their tackle box and choose surface lures when chasing barra at night. Surface lures, namely fizzers, are best fished at night or in the low light of the early morning or afternoon. A slow subtle retrieve is best up against the fallen timber and around the rock bars. The general rule of thumb is to opt for a fizzer style surface lure when fishing near timber and a popper when casting around rocks. The noise and splutter of surface lures tends to attract big catfish. When they strike they move some serious water and make a lot of noise. It certainly gets the heart racing!
How ‘bout flies?
Big flies boasting plenty of volume – including Fatboys, Gamechangers, Hollow Fleye’s and Clousers – are well-suited to Lake Kununurra.
OK, I have my lures sorted, but what rods and reels should I bring?
Rods that can be cast for long sessions without tiring. Taking that into account, a lightweight spin or baitcast combo, or one of both, is recommended.
As far as spin outfits go, a 7ft rod, rated to 8kg-15kg, mated with a 4000 or 5000 size reel is suitable. The rod needs to be capable of casting a range of lure weights from bibbed hardbody lures to large soft plastics.
A traditional baitcast combo is a key piece of kit for trolling, casting or jigging soft vibes. Paired with a 200 to 300 size baitcast reel, with 30lb to 50lb braid, an outfit like this can cover most water and fishing types found in the lake.
With swimbait lures emerging so has a range of longer than usual baitcast rods. These rods are perfect for long range casting of heavy soft plastics and ideal for covering the water of Lake Kununurra. Coming in lengths of more than 7ft and line rated from 10kg-15kg or 15-24kg, a swimbait rod and a 300 size baitcast reel is an ideal outfit.
For fly fishers, a sturdy 10 weight with a fast-sinking line is suitable. The constant water flow presents the challenge of getting big flies down to the fish. A small ball sinker tied into the loop knot of the fly increases the sink rate, too.
What to catch
Barramundi are an iconic sportfish in Australia’s north – and, for good reason! With the Lake Kununurra barramundi stocking program seeing more than one million barra stocked into the 55km waterbody since 2013, fishers have the chance to catch a 1m-plus trophy barra from the safe and accessible East Kimberley fishing gem. The Lake’s barramundi can grow beyond 1.2m and weigh more than 20kg. They’re distinguishable by their pointed head, concave forehead, large jaw extending behind the eye, elongated body and rounded caudal (tail) fin. For more information, including fishing rules, download the Recfishwest fishing rules app.
Although they don’t grow as big as the revered barra, the sooty grunter found in Lake Kununurra are a fantastic fishing option. Darkish to a greeny-brown with a bronze tinge, sooty grunter are a formidable tight tackle opponent. Sooties – which will characteristically grunt when taken out of the water – can often be found near over-hanging structure, such as fallen trees, throughout Lake Kununurra. Watch this video to see how to catch them!
Silver in colour, with thin short barbels (whiskers), the catfish in Lake Kununurra can grow to an impressive 1.4m. While they’re not a sought-after catch or the reason anglers typically fish Lake Kununurra, catfish can be a welcome bycatch here given they grow big and fight hard. If the barra aren’t biting, Lake Kununurra’s catfish can make for sensational fishing sessions.
Similar to their oceanic cousins, freshwater longtom are an aggressive topwater predator. They can be found cruising on the surface in Lake Kununurra, however, when they’re in hunting mode, they are very quick. These longtom, as the name suggests, are long and skinny fish, with a bill-like mouth which has many needle line teeth.
Whitish to dusky grey in colour, archerfish can be found in Lake Kununurra. They can sometimes be observed under snags or near structure throughout the Lake. Check out this ‘Fishes of Lake Kununurra’ infographic produced by Murdoch University to see other fish species found in Lake Kununurra.