Lates calcarifer

Northern WA, Southern QLD, Northern QLD, NT
Bay, Ocean, River, Onshore, Reef, Estuary, Creek, Beach, Structure

Barramundi are probably the most well-known fish in Australia. Barramundi are certainly the most popular fish to find on any fine dining restaurant menu. Barramundi are also known as Barra, Silver Barramundi, Giant Perch and Palmer Perch, and also Passion Fish.

Barramundi have a very extensive range in tropical and semitropical areas of the Indo-Pacific. The distribution of Barramundi extends from the Persian Gulf to southern China and southwards to the northern Australia. Originally, Barramundi were known as Saratoga and Gulf Saratoga.

The only fish that has a full chrome-like body, if the one in the image above could flicker, is the native Australian Barramundi, and is only found in the wild. All Barramundi are born male. Larger fish are probably female.


Lates calcarifer is broadly referred to as Asian Seabass by the international community but is also called the Australian Seabass. A study of the fish found from Burma to Australia also suggests that these fish are two separate species. Many Lates calcarifer are also called "Barramundi" today as the result of a successful marketing campaign in the late 19th century.

Fish widely called Barramundi by the international community have the roughly the physical profile but vary widely in size and colorings. Farmed fish, the great majority on the dining table even in Australia, are brown and dull.

Australian native fish stocked in popular recreational fishing impoundments dotted across Queensland's tropical north are known as "Impoundment Barramundi", are very similar in physical appearance to the icon except for colour.

There's only one Barramundi that looks like the icon that's widely associated with, and used to market fish name appropriated Barramundi, and that's the fish that's found in the Australian wild, most commonly in the coastal waters of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. That's the fish that is seen in the image above.

Barramundi have large scales, an up-pointed mouth, a very distinct profile and eyes that glow brilliantly even under sunlight.

The lateral line is a highly developed sensory organ. Barramundi have the ability to detect the vibrations in the water, which also results in, what appears to humans as, wildly erratic behaviour. Some anglers even say that's Barramundi using its own movement to ping out vibrations similar to sonar, to "look" around. While Barramundi found in Australia are known for a great fight and lighting up when hooked, a fish that's glitters full silver under the sun also appear to have comparably impressive senses and behave substantially more erratic, thus the name, Passion Fish.


Barramundi can be found in a wide variety of habitats in rivers creeks and mangrove estuaries. Barramundi prefer clear to murky water. You will find Barramundi are the most common in rivers and creeks with large catchments. Barramundi prefer a moving water with temperatures above 20°C. Barramundi are a lazy fish and lie in wait to ambush as predators. Barramundi can be found from the Mary River in Queensland around the top end of Australia all the way to Shark Bay in Western Australia. Impoundment Barramundi can be caught in impoundments all up the northern coast.


Because Barramundi likes to lay in wait, it is important to look for deep holes or locations where water intersects. Barramundi are typical ambush feeders. In tidal reaches, look for places where food will gather, particularly on as the tide is heading out and water draining brings along prey fish.

If you don’t have a boat or a kayak, you will need to find a spot along the water’s edge where you can cast. Patience is the key with Barramundi. As already mentioned, Barramundi are a lazy fish, so this means successful fishos are those who are prepared to keep fishing and keep trying in the same spot. Obviously, boat or kayak fishing is preferred to get into the best location.

Accuracy is extremely important when fishing for Barramundi. We recommend shorter fishing rods for their casting accuracy when fishing in and around structure. Because you will be fishing in structure, a good, strong abrasion resistant leader line is highly recommended.

Baitcast or trolled diving lures are popular with those chasing Barramundi but a selection of vibrating spot lures, soft plastic jigs and spinnerbaits can be very effective. Retrieve slowly as Barramundi are ambush predators. Look for lures that deliver the most amount of action while moving slowly. If you are using lures made in the USA, it’s best to change the hooks because it’s easy to lose Barramundi on the straightened lighter gauge hooks common to USA-made lures.

While lures are popular, live bait is always an option when chasing Barramundi. A giant live prawn (Cherabin) under a float is a popular choice. A common rig is to fish a live fish in a centralised deeper area where they like to weight in ambush.