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FISHING With Alex Julius

I’m guilty as charged if sneaking three more trips to the South Alligator River before the end of the Runoff is a crime.
The first trip was on a waning spring tide a fortnight ago with a couple of mates: Phil Hall and Tim Pel.
It was too far to go downstream to the mouth looking for clear water on a day trip, and it’s just too easy to buzz around upriver from the boat ramp.
Water clarity was average, but we found small barra on some rock lumps in the main river that had been exposed after the big wet season flow.
It wasn’t until the tide began to turn on the run-in that the big Lowrance HDS16 Carbon showed bigger barra rising to midwater.
I was surprised that they weren’t on the rock-bar itself but a tad upriver on a mud slope.
Best of all, we nailed one on the troll – a 97cm ripper that took Tim’s Classic Ghost lure in green.
The window was a short one and the fish had moved on when we began trolling again.
I was keen to revisit the South on dead neap tides three days later, hoping for improved water clarity.
Tim was with me again, as well as top young female angler, Crystal Neal.
The water upriver was definitely more clear than the previous trip, but it could have been better.
We banged several barra on the aforementioned rock lumps, then did a troll up Nourlangie Creek on the falling tide.
It’s not much of a secret that there’s a great rock-bar about 700m up inside from the mouth of Nourlangie.
I knew that it had been fishing well, mainly by anchoring on it and casting both soft plastic and shallow-running hard bodies.
There were two anglers in a mid-sized boat doing just that.
We lowered the Minn Kota and sat on spot lock for 10 minutes, casting across the bar.
We were obviously in the wrong spot because old mates pulled in half a dozen small barra and we didn’t even get a hit.
That was no fun so we went off hunting big fish again.
The afternoon wore on and it wasn’t until the tide turned and built up momentum that our luck changed.
It was getting close to home time but, since we were in the area, I decided to have a last crack at the Nourlangie rock-bar on a rising tide.
The other boat was gone and we trolled easily over the bar with the higher water.
We had three lures out the back, pushing into the current over the bar about the middle of the creek.
Suddenly, there they were: about half a dozen good fish showed up on side-scan about 10 metres to the right of my boat.
I moved straight over, trying to place the lures in a position that would take them over the markings.
There’s something immensely satisfying about seeing fish on your fish finder’s side-scan and nailing one.
The hit was jarring and about a metre of barra came hurtling out of the current.
I had near-lock drag, and gave it no quarter; it was a good fight but a short one.
Quick photos, a 98cm measurement, a reviving swim and a pleasing release were soon followed by another beauty on the end of the line.
It was Crystal’s turn and she made short work of a terrific 93cm barra.
It was home after that, but only last Saturday I had another shot at the South Alligator.
It was a good trip with old mate Dick Eussen.
We found small barra at the very top of Nourlangie, and lost a good one, but it was clear that the big river had done its dash for this year’s runoff.
Maybe time now to revisit the Daly.

It was great to hear the announcement by Minister for Primary Industry and Resources, Ken Vowles, that applications are open for the new $1 million Recreational Fishing Grants Scheme.
“The Government is investing $50 million in recreational fishing to create jobs and improve recreational fishing opportunities,” Mr Vowles said.
“As part of that investment, we have established the new Recreational Fishing Grants Scheme.
“The Scheme is open to Territory-based, not-for-profit organisations.
“Funding can be used for a range of projects, including educational programs, improving fishing access, installing fishing shelters and fish-cleaning tables, habitat restoration and junior fishing clinics.
“This is a two-tier scheme with eligible organisations able to apply for funding up to $15,000 for smaller projects, or up to $100,000 for major initiatives.”
“Applications are welcome from fishing clubs, councils, traditional owners, incorporated bodies and businesses,” Mr Vowles said.
AFANT Executive Officer David Ciaravolo said the Recreational Fishing Grants Scheme is an opportunity for stakeholders to turn their ideas into reality.
“Your club might know the perfect spot for a wash-down facility, or want to run a children’s fishing clinic,” he said.
“Maybe your organisation is interested in fish habitat restoration, or fish tagging and research. There is plenty of scope with these grants.”
Mr Vowles said the funding will increase community participation in recreational fishing.
“We want as many Territorians as possible to get out there and enjoy the incredible fishing opportunities the Territory has to offer,” he said.
Applications close on 29 July 2018. Visit dpir.nt.gov.au.
crystal neal barra
1.    Crystal Neal’s 93cm South Alligator River barra came from the famous Nourlangie Creek rock-bar.

AJ barra
2.    Alex’s 98cm barra was caught on a Bobby Dazzler Classic 120 lure trolled over the Nourlangie rock-bar.

tim pell barra
3.    Tim Pel’s 97cm barra took a Classic Ghost lure.