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Backyard Barra

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Few would argue that Australian Barramundi are one of the best sporting fish on the planet. For carnivorous types like us, they are one of the best eating too. Not everyone is so lucky to have them swimming around in their neighbourhood. In Mount Isa, we're lucky about a lot of things and this is one of them, we have Barra in our backyard.  Barra in Mount Isa might sound a bit fishy (pardon the pun) considering we're remote and arid, however visit our beautiful lakes glistening in the desert heat or drop into one of our pubs and you'll hear the stories and perhaps see the evidence.  Mount Isa has another equally unusual and unexpected (Ichthyologic - related) snippet, and that is, she holds the richest Fishing Classic in Australia at Lake Moondarra. 

All this has been made possible by an incredibly hard working team known as the Mount Isa Fish Stocking Group (MIFSG) and a very enabling Glencore Community Program North Queensland funding grant.  Together this pool of awesomeness burst its banks and flooded the spillway to create a fish-stocking program for the manmade Lakes of Moondarra and Julius both located in close proximity to Mount Isa.  By close I don't mean by Outback Australian standards either, I actually mean close as in 'city slicker' close.  

The mad keen fisho's who live and breathe the Mount Isa Fish Stocking Group and the annual Lake Moondarra Fishing Classic, collect the little baby Barra's from Karumba and it was my pleasure to check them out and pick up a little insider knowledge.  

Like a proud father showing off his new babies,  Mount Isa City Councillor, George Fortune (member of MIFSG), told me a good year in a Barramundi life is when it rains a lot and floods.  Somehow the adult fish know it's going to be a good year and spawn a lot. The unusual truth is that the baby Barra's know to swim into the current that takes them to water holes and other fresh water reaches. Here they are safer and can grow to become monster-sized Barramundi.  Mount Isa Mines began stocking the Lakes with Barramundi in the 1950's and 60's.  The MIFSG took a more formal approach to restocking during the 1980's forming most of the current guidelines during that time.  

There are 15 different genetic strains of Barra from Bundaberg to Broome but we only populate our lakes with fingerlings from the Leichhardt, Flinders, Nicolson, Albert and Norman Rivers. The reason we don't introduce any other species of Barra to our lakes and is mainly due to water temperature.  Water temp can build to 35 degrees out here and our fish need to be naturally fit to survive.  An extra 8K of these two month old little fellers now call Mount Isa home, 6K were released in the lake and 2K kept in the hatchery.  Our fish nursery, at Outback at Isa, will nurture the Barra bubbas until they're about 6 months old and they'll then join their fishy cousins.  Survival rate in the wild for Barramundi fingerlings in our northern rivers is only 1-2%. In our lakes this increases dramatically to 10% allowing us the pleasure of their company and as they get bigger the challenge of catching them at the great 'Lake Moondarra Fishing Classic'.  

This year I think I just may have a go with my rod and a prayer.

"Dear Lord
Grant me the serenity to accept the size of the fish I catch, the courage not to lie about it, and the wisdom to know that none of my fishing mates would believe me anyway".


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