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FISHING With Alex Julius

It looks like we’re in for a dry Christmas and New Year, so this week I thought we’d just look at some fishing options.
On top of the dry conditions is the forecast for light winds over the festive break, so you can pretty well plan trips that will likely happen.
As it turns out, Christmas Day is the peak spring tide of the set, so all days from now on leading up to that are what we call “making springs”; ie the high tides are getting higher and the low tides are getting lower.
As I’ve explained before, making springs are usually good fishing tides because fishing is generally on the improve as currents increase and the food chain gets more active.
The downside is water clarity decreases with faster-flowing water.
Notwithstanding, on the barra front, the tides prior to Christmas Day are great for both Darwin Harbour and Bynoe Harbour.
It’ll be the usual style of fishing: working flats around half-tide out as water flows out of the mangroves, switching to drains as the tide gets lower and turns to run in, and then hitting the flats again as the tide rises to the mangrove edges and floods.
It’s not rocket science once you get used to it; but it pays to have a bit of local knowledge up your sleeve.
That’s why I’ve advocated before that, if catching barra in Darwin Harbour is your objective, then concentrate on learning one particular area.
Our harbour is a huge waterway, and it has several significant arms that each have dozens, even hundreds of potential barra spots.
On that basis, you might concentrate on learning as much as you can about East Arm, fishing it on different tides and noting times and places that produced for you.
It’s a bit like going to the same supermarket all the time: you know where to grab what you want and make it happen quickly.
After Christmas Day next Tuesday, the tides slowly start to get smaller until they reach the dead neap tide the following Sunday which is actually a three-tide day.
Other barra locations kick in on the making neaps.
Big river mouths have been on the radar of late – lots of images of silver slabs of barra keep popping up on social media.
No one is telling where the fish are coming from, but it’s a fair bet that the mouth of the South Alligator, Wildman River mouth, Mary mouth and the Finniss are all candidates.
The making neaps are also good for offshore fishing, both trolling and bottom bouncing.
I hark back to the fabulous trip I had on recent making neaps; we caught everything imaginable on an offshore Arafura Bluewater Charters trip.
Given the forecast for fair weather, a foray offshore at the end of the year could be a whole lot of fun.
There’ll almost surely be some billfish kicking around down Dundee way, and calm seas late in December generally fish well for Spanish mackerel at regular haunts offshore from Darwin.
If you’re looking for a feed of tasty reef fish, then dropping some weighted soft plastics on one of the Fenton Patches artificial reefs – especially on the change of tide – should do the trick.
Yep, much as we probably would all like a very wet Christmas and New Year, that’s not at all likely to happen.
Best bet then is to go fishing, and please do it safely.
Merry Christmas to you all.

Ajs red emperor
1.    Alex reckoned this ripper red emperor caught on a Gillies Glow Shrimp was a great Christmas present… thanks to Arafura Bluewater Charters.

dave jemmit barra
2.    Dave Jemmett’s South Alligator River mouth barra measured 104cm.

peter mummery
3.    Peter Mummery wielded the fly rod to catch this silver queenfish.