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Alex's Column 02/02/2023

Rather than bang on this week about the need for more rain right across the Top End, it’s good to see the Mary River catchment copped a couple of hundred mils last week.

Hopefully, that will lead to some good flows down to Sampan Creek and Tommycut Creek, the two tributaries of the Mary River delta, and also to the coastal creeks.

The tides this weekend are perfect for fishing Sampan and Tommycut as they’ll still be just coming off the neaps so water clarity should be good.

Those two big tributaries of the Mary River require neap tides as the bigger tides lead to water discolouration.

The best times to fish these locations are during breaks in the wet season and during the Runoff, so this weekend might just be it.

The respective mouths of these big systems invariably get the most fishing attention, and it's nothing for more than 60 boats to be trolling in and out of the mouth of Sampan Creek.

The best time to do this is during the making tide; barra often hitch a ride into the creek with the tide, and the action can be red hot, at least for an hour or two.

If you want to fish Tommycut, you need to exit the Sampan Creek mouth and head west for about 7km.

If the tide is low, you’ll need to travel a couple of kilometres offshore to avoid the mud banks.

By the middle of next week, the tides will be big enough to fish those little coastal creeks that so often produce monster barra.

There are mudflats to be crossed, and a fast-rising tide provides the opportunity to get into a coastal creek mouth and prop there or move further up the creek, tying off to the mangroves.

There are four significant coastal creeks along Chambers Bay either side of the Mary: Marsh Creek to the west, then Thring, Carmor and Love Creek to the east.

It's the nature of barra fishing that the best spots attract the most boats, so it's possible to travel a long way and find yourself unable to get close enough to the action.

If you can get a prime position, the goal is to fish through the high tide and get out before the tide drops too low and you are stranded.

Understand too that it's very tight fishing at these coastal creeks, and often you'll be fishing around individual mangrove stands.

You need robust tackle: a quality reel with an ultra-smooth braking system because you'll have it cranked up, a fast-action, heavy-weight barra rod, upgraded trebles, at least 15kg braid lines and minimum 33kg leaders.

An outfit like this is also ideal for chucking around those mandatory big Bomber and Reidy's hard-body lures.

In recent years, anglers have been travelling even further afield to the Wildman River which borders Kakadu for the first few kilometres then snakes it way right into the national park. You get there either by launching at Shady Camp or, road conditions and tide permitting, launching at Stuart Tree Fishing Camp.

Like the Mary mouth, the Wildman fishes best on neap tides.


George Moussa with his 86cm barra fishing the Daly last week with top guide Stuey Brisbane of Daly River Barra Resort.


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