Alex's Fishing Column 19 March 2020
I’ve done some heli-fishing trips in my time, but the latest one last weekend would rate as one of the best.
It was with the company of the same name, Helifish, and our pilot Bazza was a winner right from the pre-flight briefing.
There were five of us on the big Helifish Long Ranger chopper, but there was more than enough room, including for one-piece barra rods up the middle.
It was interesting hearing from Bazza that last year, even though there was no real wet season and subsequent Runoff, the fishing had been consistently good.
I’ve been in the business long enough to know that this is very much testament to the experience, knowledge and skill levels of the fishing guide looking after you; and in this case he is also the pilot.
Naturally, we also discussed the late wet season this year and the hope that the subsequent Runoff gets the barra biting the way they should.
I had two of my work colleagues with me: Roger Sinclair (aka The Silver Fox) and Becky Robinson.
We were accompanying two winners of a joint Helifish/NAFA magazine competition: Paul Skinner and his mate Muzza, both from Forster NSW.
Choppers are always exhilarating and we travelled a fair way, including over the murky Daly River mouth, before Bazza put us down in a tiny clearing near the mouth a of a small creek.
It was high tide so getting the 100m to the mouth was difficult because beach access was cut off by water.
Pushing through the mangroves wasn’t too hard, but when we got to the creek we were a good 50m up from the mouth and there was just one small gap to cast from into the creek.
The Silver Fox is an old hand at getting in the first cast: while the rest of us got sorted, he flicked a lure out underhand and promptly hooked an 80cm-plus barra.
Sadly, it threw the lure but the writing was on the wall that a good session was in the making.
Our winners lined up next, taking turns and ripping into some nice threadfin salmon.
In fact, the creek was boiling with salmon.
I was focused on taking photos, and not fishing, and went back through the mangroves to a sandy spot where we’d left most of our gear – tackle bags, camera case, drinks and the like – as I wanted to change lenses.
I’d just made the switch when I heard a lot of commotion and some serious “whooping”.
“You’d better get here with your camera,” Roger called out.
That I did, and came back to a very elated group, especially Paul who was standing next to a ripper of a barra on the sand.
Muzza pulled out his tape measure and it came up a metre neat – 100cm – amazing really given it was the first barra Paul had ever caught.
Once the tide started to fall away, we were able to access the creek mouth proper where everyone was able to fish; except me… I just squelched around in the mud snapping away.
Fish after fish was slid up through the shallows and onto the mud, with threadies outnumbering barra about three to one.
The fishing slowed down as the current sped up with the falling tide, so we jumped back in the chopper to hit three more spots.
None was as good as the first creek, but all produced fish, and we’d had a truly memorable session.
Note too that our guide made sure none of us stood too close to the edge when we were fishing – being Crocwise was important.
Make sure you add a Helifish trip to your bucket list… you definitely won’t regret it.
I’m sure most of the Darwin angling community would have heard that both the Barra Nationals and the Kakadu Klash have been cancelled this year.
It’s unfortunate but so understandable, and both announcements came before the new ban on groups of 100 or more assembling indoors.
The Nationals was shaping up to be a good one following all the decent rain, and the Klash was well in hand to be a great event under the umbrella of Parks Australia.
Hopefully, both will be back stronger than ever next year.
Paul Skinner’s first-ever barra was 100cm, and took a Bomber lure on a fabulous Helifish trip.
Becky Robinson’s PB 89cm barra fell to a chartreuse Bomber on the Helifish trip.