Living in the big city with limited time and income, fishing at barramundi ponds is what many Bangkok lure fishermen would resort to on the weekends. To be totally honest, why not? Barramundi offer amazing fights with aerial acrobatics, the ponds are generally quite affordable and the fish are very delicious.
One common problem with many lure fishermen and stocked barramundi ponds is that they seem to think that any lure would work simply because the pond is stocked and the fish is easy. While this is exceptionally true in farm ponds with minimal fishing pressure like Boonma (aka Boon Mar or however the internet wants to spell it), it is definitely not true for other ponds that have seen daily pressure like Bor Num or Pilot 111.
I am in no way a master at barramundi fishing but I can definitely offer you, my dearest readers, some advice that can greatly improve your fishing experience here in Thailand. In this article I will cover the simplest four-step way to catch a pond stocked barramundi: via rubber shad.
1. Picking your lure
A rubber shad is a fishing lure that resembles a small bait fish that has the ability to wiggle its tail horizontally when retrieved. They come in various colours and sizes and are always armed with one hook with its sharp end protruding out its back, pointing upwards to prevent snagging the bottom. Some varieties of rubber shads come with an additional treble hook below to increase hook rates but this variety is definitely more susceptible to snags.
The best type of rubber shad for catching stocked barramundi are the three and a half inch sizes or below or smaller. Since most ponds are quite murky, bright chartreuse colours will often present the best results as they are the most visible. More natural colours are better for clearer waters but those are generally very rare in stocked ponds.
2. The retrieve
Finesse is the key to success here. Stocked ponds in Thailand have flat bottoms and are usually no deeper than three meters. Throwing huge lures here will generally be a waste of time as the fishing pressures in these ponds are extremely high (plus there just aren’t that many big baitfish swimming in there to start with). This this the reason why small, bottom hugging lures like the rubber shad are easily the most effective when it comes to barramundi ponds.
Keep the retrieve extremely slow to imitate the small bait fish that usually linger around the pond. What the Thais use is a knocking technique where with the slightest swing of the rod tip, the rubber shad is retrieved just a few centimeters at a time at most. Another way is just a steady retrieve, keeping the lure at the bottom while traveling no faster than a centimeter a second.
3. The hookset
Most of the time the barramundi will hit that lure hard and set the hook on its own but sometimes they may have small little pecks before taking a solid bite. These pecks will feel like little bumps, the trick is to ignore it and keep retrieving steadily and slowly until the bite happens. When it does, simple just raise up the rod quickly to set that hook.
4. The fight
There are two reasons why barramundis are such spectacular fighting fish. One, they give very strong fights and two, they love performing aerial acrobatics during the process. Many barramundi fishermen will try to keep the fight below the surface by keeping the rod tip low during the fight and retrieving the line from the side as opposed to the top.
A braver fisherman would try to keep the fight as close to the water’s surface as possible. In a wild situation this is to prevent snagging the fish underwater but in the case of a stocked pond devoid from any form of obstruction the only purpose for doing this is to enjoy the visual spectacle of seeing a fish fly into the air. However, there is a great danger to doing this as the fish can easily throw the hook while ferociously swinging its head midair. When it does this the fisherman must bow his rod to create slack allowing to tension on the line to loosen in order for the lure to not be shaken out. To do this, simply lower the rod once you see the fish break the water’s surface.
Follow these steps, keep the fight up, tire out that fish and you’ll have a barramundi in no time. In the meantime, you can watch this video below of the retrieve and fight to get a rough idea of what to do.