Alex Julius Column 9/12/22

The tides are slowing down at a mighty pace as we approach the weekend.

I hit a harbour arm last weekend with friends and at one stage we were staring at mangrove roots way above our heads… that’s how low the 0.17m spring tide was.

The fishing was pretty ordinary too – not much bait about and only suspected evidence of barramundi presence.

All we caught were a flathead, a couple of small GTs and a pikey bream.

Plus it was a nail-biting run home across the harbour with lightning flashing on three sides!

That was a first for me – at least on the water – but what can you do except just keep going?

There was only one electrical storm in the distance when we made the decision to run, but then suddenly we were surrounded.

Apparently, the chances of an open trailer boat in the tropics being hit by lightning is 0.1 in 1000, but the odds were sure higher last Sunday afternoon, especially as we were the only boat for at least 5km.

It was fairly choppy, but I belted along figuring the lightning would be hard pressed to hit a fast-moving target.

Graphite rods had been stowed, and obviously we made it safely.

If you want to determine how far away an electrical storm is, count the seconds between a lightning bolt and the thunder that follows, divide it by three and that’s how many kilometres away the electricity is.

The overwhelming advice if you’re stuck in an electrical storm is to get near structure that is higher than your boat; eg snuggled up against mangroves.

You should also lie down as near to the centre of the boat as possible.

That was last weekend; this weekend we’re bang on neap tides, with Sunday actually being a three-tide day with less than 2m movement both on the incoming and the outgoing.

Expect light winds on both days, strengthening in the afternoon.

This means an offshore excursion is on the cards but, again, watch out for storms.

If you’re after a salt water barra, river mouths are the go.

The mouth of the Adelaide River could produce up inside the Wiltshire creeks, especially on Sunday morning when there is enough time to get there and start fishing in daylight before low tide.

Launching would be from Saltwater Arm.

Leaders Creek is another worthy option for an early start.

On tides like these during the build-up, some cagey anglers have been launching at Shady Camp, heading down and out the mouth of Sampan Creek and sneaking over to Wildman River to chase big barra.

But that introduces weather issues and trolling clear water at the mouth of Sampan Creek or nearby Tommycutt Creek could produce the goods in any event.

The Finniss River is another option on the neaps and, no matter what you’ve heard, you can still fish up to 5km from the mouth.

Bynoe Harbour is another option, especially if you aspire to some sight fishing for barra.

Water clarity will be good on the morning incoming tides, and snags and mangroves along the flats usually hold fish that can be seen.

Yet another option is to head way up the Howard River, Little Howard or Tree Point Inlet in Shoal Bay to meet the top of the tide early-to-mid afternoon.

Just cast around the mangroves and any colour changes that you might find.


Darwin Harbour pikey bream are not normally as brightly silver as this terrific specimen caught by Matty Allen.