Home » Giant fish regularly landed near the CBD in Australia’s ‘barra capital’

Giant fish regularly landed near the CBD in Australia’s ‘barra capital’

Beneath the water in the heart of the CBD in this Queensland city lurk urban saltwater giants.

And we’re not talking about the massive crocs.

Welcome to the country’s new “Barramundi capital” where some of the world’s best anglers are hitting the water to target a trophy-sized catch.

Fishing in the Fitzroy River is a popular pastime for families who visit to the area.(Supplied: Fishing the Fitzroy)

The not-so-secret fishing spot in the Fitzroy River (Tunuba), in central Queensland, is seeing monster barramundi measuring more than 130cm caught — just a stone’s throw from the city’s iconic pub, the Rockhampton Criterion Hotel.

Michael Powell has been tagging and releasing fish up-and-down the east coast of Australia for 25 years.

The long-time Queensland recreational fisherman said it had been a record start to the barra season.

“If you want the numbers, you go north to the Cape [York] or up into the [Northern] Territory,” he said.

“We get numbers of fish here but the size of the fish here are a lot bigger and a lot more plentiful than you’d expect around anywhere else in Australia.”

Find your catch in the middle of town

The Fitzroy River is the largest river catchment flowing to the eastern coast of Australia.

Mr Powell said fishers were catching significantly bigger barramundi in parts of the state where commercial net fishing was banned in 2015.

A fisherman standing on a boat holding a large fish.

Rockhampton’s Michael Powell has caught and tagged thousands of fish around the state for more than 25 years.(Supplied: Suntag Queensland)

“In the last 12 months, the fellas in the [Fitzroy] river have been catching the one-point-two, one-point-threes, and these are all fish that are caught up in the town reaches,” he said.

Mr Powell, who is president of the longest-running tagging club in Queensland, said the pursuit of landing a trophy fish and “a once-in-a-lifetime catch” had risen in popularity.

A fish with its mouth open being placed back into the water by a fisherman.

The trophy-sized barra is tagged and released back into the water to fight another day.(Supplied: Fishing the Fitzroy)

“To hook one to start with is amazing and the initial hit is massive and the biggest thing during the whole fight is that you want to land the fish and the power of the fish always dictates that,” he said.

“The number of these sorts of fish being caught and the size of the fish hasn’t been repeated regularly anywhere else.”

Mr Powell has tagged more than 11,000 fish in the past 25 years and said about 20,000 fish were tagged across Queensland each year.

A fisherman sitting on the edge of a boat holding a huge barramundi fish with a boat in the background.

Coby Pascoe kicked off the new barramundi season with this 130cm monster recently.(Supplied: Suntag Queensland)

A barramundi he caught 14 years ago measuring 55cm was recently re-captured in the Fitzroy River at 132cm.

“The data we’ve got from our tagging program [Suntag] shows that we’ve got people right throughout Australia that have come to Rockhampton and caught tagged fish in the Fitzroy in the last number of years,” he said.

“The data that we’re getting now is just magic and the boys that are catching these big fish, they are reporting them, which is great too.”

A man holding a large barramundi fish in a river.

Central Queensland angler Coby Pascoe holding a trophy-sized barra he landed in the Fitzroy River.(Supplied: Suntag Queensland)

Australia’s new ‘barra capital’

Rockhampton Regional Council Mayor Tony Williams is an avid fisherman and has fished the Fitzroy River his entire life.

He said the latest prized barramundi to catch the attention of anglers “from far and wide” were the biggest he had seen yet.

Two fishermen holding up a fish and standing on a boat in a river.

Tony Williams (left) is all smiles during a fishing trip along the Fitzroy River.(Supplied: Tony Williams)

“They’re definitely some of the largest and that’s just an indicator of how passionate people are about catching and landing trophy fish,” he said.

“And they come from far and wide to take advantage of that.”

It may be called Australia’s Beef Capital, but since commercial netting was removed from the Fitzroy River in 2015, Mr Williams said it had become a mecca for recreational barramundi fishing.

A man in a blue fishing shirt on a boat holding a huge barramundi fish.

Mathew Scholz was excited by this catch near the Rockhampton CBD.(Supplied: Pelagic Pursuit Fishing)

“To see a horse of a barra that was caught in the town reaches is great not only for the fishermen catching the fish, but for the rest of the community to see what actually can be landed in the CBD,” he said.

“That’s something that not every city can boast about, so we’re not only the beef capital, but the barra capital as well.”