FISHING With Alex Julius
With more heavy rain forecast across the Top End, the odds of the Arnhem Highway reopening by the weekend is problematic to say the least.
According to the Bureau of Metreology, the monsoonal trough is pushing back north and
storms may bring heavy rainfall to some locations.
If the Arnhem Highway at Scotts Creek is one of those locations, you can forget about towing your boat east to potentially fertile barra grounds.
But miracles can happen and, if there is no significant rain on the edges of the Adelaide River, plus given the slow-moving neap tides this weekend, it’s a fair bet an armada of boats will be towed – with caution – across a still-very-wet highway.
The significance of the neap tides is that they will facilitate floodplain runoff; as distinct from the massive spring tides last week which backed up the flood water.
Plenty of barra anglers had a calendar pin on the Sunday before last, chomping at the bit to hit the Mary River mouth via the fabulous new Shady Camp boat ramp.
I know… I was one.
However, a widespread deluge that created a record for the number of records it created put paid to that.
Three years ago in January, less than a dozen boats went down to the mouth of Sampan Creek, which is the Mary’s main tributary, and the anglers aboard were greeted with hordes of ravenous metre barra.
There were multiple-boat hook-ups on thrashing big silver fish on a day that has since been etched into Top End barra history as Sampan Sunday.
Stupendous fishing of that calibre has not been repeated since at the iconic location, and it hasn’t been from want of trying: for weeks afterwards, and even on weekdays, up to 150 4WDs and trailers adorned the Shady Camp car-parks and several 100 metres of the road in.
That was in 2015, and it’s a phenomenon that has been repeated for the last two years – not the Sampan Sunday thing; just the congested car parking.
So wouldn’t you know it: this weekend coincides with the sweetest neap tides, and irresistibly beckons half of Darwin’s angling fraternity to head for Shady Camp.
As an aside, even if the long odds are defied, and the Arnhem Highway becomes passable – with caution of course – you won’t be launching at the fab new Shady Camp boat ramp; you’ll be launching off the road well before it and boating down to the ramp.
Also on the hit list this weekend if accessible is the South Alligator River.
That’s always a fun river to fish in big wet season floods, especially up the top where the views over sunken floodplains can be truly spectacular.
And you can always jag a hot barra session along the edges at tea-stained outflows.
One place with runoff potential you will be able to access is the lower Adelaide River via the Gunn Point Road and Saltwater Arm boat ramp.
Head right up the Wiltshire Creeks in the Adelaide and you just might find tumbling, floodplain, receding flood.
Little waterfalls, churning gutters and swirling sudsy back eddies will all be worth prospecting with hard-bodies, softies and vibes.
Finally, if all else goes to “shite”, do what Dallas Smith did last Sunday evening and stroll down the front nine of Palmerston Golf Club, peppering the little lakes that were stocked with barra in March 2016.
Dallas told me he and his family have been having a ball on little barra.
“Some barra are 40-50cm from the fingerlings stocked in 2016, and some are really small around 30cm from last year’s stocking,” he said.
“I got lucky on Sunday and caught an 80cm barra on a soft plastic.
“People have been chucking live barra into the lakes for years and this fish must have been one of them,” the top angler advised.
The rules in place for fishing these stocked Palmerston lakes are strictly catch-and-release fishing with barbless hooks.
Expressions of Interest forms went out this week for the NT’s premier all-ladies fishing tournament: the 2018 Secret Women's Business Barra Challenge (SWB).
The SWB is riding high following its win at the NT Recreational Fishing Awards in the Fishing Competition category.
Organisers Chrissie Hurren and Kris Noble said they couldn’t be more thrilled with the award, attributing it not only to their own hard work, but also that of their marshals, volunteers and the wonderful competitors who make SWB so amazing.
“This year's tournament is being held on 14 to 15 September,” Chrissie said.
“It is about like-minded women from novices to experienced anglers getting together, learning from each other and having a great time.
“Held on the spectacular Corroboree Billabong, the fishing can often be tough, but this doesn't seem to matter as the women fish their hearts out vying for the title of Champion Team.
“After the incredible recent floods, we are hoping for some great fishing this year.
“SWB continues to proudly hold a 5 star NEATFish accreditation,” Chrissie explained.
“All barramundi caught during the tournament are tagged before being released to assist NT Fisheries with its research.
“The fun is not just restricted to the water though: back at Corroboree Park Tavern there is entertainment and activities each night.
“If you want to be part of Australia’s award-winning, premier, all-women tournament, please contact ,” Chrissie said.
Expressions of Interest close on Monday 9 April.
1. Top angler Dallas Smith couldn’t help himself and yelled “FOUR” when he hooked this 80cm barra between the 5th and 6th fairways at Palmerston Golf Club.
2. All fish must be released on the course, and Dallas revives his great catch in a green-side bunker.
3. A-grade golfer and A-grade fisho, Peter Hoy, managed some nice Shoal Bay barra during last week’s wet season storms, including this ripper 88cm fish.
4. Land-based barra fisho, Clint Jebbink, reckons he “matched the hatch” when he bagged this quality 84cm Darwin Harbour barra on a Zerek Prawn.