FISHING With Alex Julius
For Darwin anglers, fishing went on hold last weekend.
Cyclone Marcus roared through, intent on blowing over every African Mahogany and undernourished native tree from the CBD to the northern suburbs to the outer rural area.
As if not having power for several days for some households hasn’t been bad enough, bloody Marcus delivered just a piddling amount of rain to our big-river floodplains.
We all thought that a second wet season cometh, but it shot through like a Daly River bore on an 8 metre tide.
Notwithstanding, it seems more rain may still come our way, thanks to a developing blow off the Top End coast.
In my opinion, we don’t need any more rain.
The Aurora Kakadu Klash kicks off today, and the river is still over the banks in some places upstream.
Late last week, the Daly River was still running over 3 metres above the crossing.
I know that for a fact because I put my boat over it and took a sonar reading.
There were about 30 boats down the river and it seemed most were doing it tough.
The creeks were flowing strongly but there wasn’t that distinct colour change with clear dark water flowing down from the floodplains.
Probably the tides weren’t ideal as later in the afternoon would see the biggish incoming tide which would slow the flow at creek mouths and improve water clarity.
In my boat were Stuey Brisbane of Daly River Barra Resort van park and fishing charters, and Christine Mansfield.
One group staying at the park had found barra to 93cm and we decided to check them out… as you do.
They were working a couple of small creeks not far apart, but there was no room for our boat.
With only a few hours left on the first day, and not a barra scale to show for our efforts so far, we headed off to check a tiny creek that fished brilliantly for me last year in the Runoff.
No two years are ever the same and the creek was hardly flowing.
Surprisingly, we still caught a few barra downstream from it where we’d heard a couple of barra boofs.
At least we didn’t head back to the Barra Resort empty handed.
The river had dropped noticeably when we hit the water on our second and last day.
It was at least 600mm lower and we decided to again run to my special little creek.
As I pulled up, we agreed it definitely looked better: there was nice colour, and the flow from the mouth was more compact with the lower water.
We got into them right away in what turned out to be one of those vintage little barra sessions when the fish jumped on lures with gusto, and fought like crazy.
The surprising thing was that there was absolutely no evidence of bait and the barra weren’t making any noise on the surface.
But they were stacked all right, and it was fairly evident that they were anticipating a food stream to come out of the creek as the water level dropped further and drained the source… probably a small swamp up on the floodplain.
I’d seen this phenomenon many times in guiding stints at the Arnhem Land Barra Lodge.
Barra aren’t stupid – they know where to be and when.
My good mate Jason Wilhelm, who has won every major barra tournament on the east coast and contributes a great column to NAFA, summed it up in a comment to my brief Facebook post: “Yep, they know all right, when to be ready and where.
“So much wonder in the subsurface world; keeps you thinking that’s for certain!
“There is very little coincidence in nature; everything happens for a reason and it’s always going to be something we will never fully understand.
“How they know, how they communicate and how they never get it wrong when it comes to maximising feeding frenzies… Special fish.”
We finished the session with a neat 25 barra tally and were back at the ramp by midday, happy to get it right on the fabulous Daly.
Over to the South Alligator River now, and who can predict what will happen at the Aurora Kakadu Klash which kicks off today?
It copped a lot of weather over the weekend, and may well cop some more if this blow comes south-west.
There are 42 teams this year and this one is always a fabulous three-day event.
1. AJ with a chrome-plated silver barra that hammered a chartreuse Bomber at a special Daly River creek where the barra were stacked in anticipation.
2. Christine Mansfield’s silver barra also munched on the time-tested chartreuse Bomber.
3. Top Daly River guide, Stuey Brisbane from Daly River Barra Resort, rarely misses out on his home turf. The lure is a big Classic in gold bleeding mullet.
4. A beautiful Daly River barra gets up and boogies in a hot session.