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Alex's Column 05/01/2023

Darwin anglers received a great Christmas present with the arrival of widespread monsoonal flow across much of the Top End.

The plight of residents at Timber Creek on the Victoria River is sad of course, particularly with the evacuations.

However, the rain parts of the Top End received over the last week or more is a fabulous start to the wet season.

The western Top End, including Darwin, received an absolute deluge.

The Daly River is already running above 10m at the crossing, and the rivers to the east of Darwin are flowing with floodwater.

Hopefully, this monsoon will lead to a good wet season which will almost invariably be followed by a good Runoff season – the bigger the Wet, the more flooding there is and the more runoff that takes place.

It’s now inevitable that the Daly River will go off during the Runoff and early-to-mid dry season.

The Adelaide River too has had a pelting.

I went for a drive out along the Arnhem Highway on New Year’s Day, and the Adelaide’s floodplains were seriously sodden, and Scotts Creek was flooding on the highway.

The Adelaide is therefore also looking good for Runoff barra fishing in due course.

Mind you, there were a dozen or more boat trailers in the boat ramp carpark, so there were plenty of anglers trying their luck already, and no doubt getting a wet backside for their trouble.

The Mary River and its catchment didn’t receive as much rain as the rivers either side, but the river was flowing at the bridge.

Out Kakadu way, Cahill’s Crossing on the East Alligator is flowing at more than 2m, and Magela Crossing is about a metre high and closed.

What we don’t want now are significant gaps between heavy widespread rain. Long gaps in the rain lead to lethal spikes in the barra fishery.

The worst Wets are those that arrive much later than normal, which has largely been the case in recent years.

So, following substantial Build-up rains, this significant early start to the wet season is just what the doctor ordered.

There is also a possibility that ex-Cyclone Ellie will double back from WA and dump heaps more rain across the Top End.

Basically, what we want is for the Top End’s big-river floodplains to remain under water right through January and into February.

This would provide the window of opportunity for landlocked barra to escape…to be liberated into the big tidal rivers.

Hopefully also, there’ll be a big recruitment of juvenile barra thanks to high survival rates of fingerlings that were spawned and recruited prior to the major flooding.

The consistent Build-up rains in October/November would have kept coastal ponds from drying out, and therefore increased the survival chances of this season’s barra fingerlings.

You know what a big number of little barra means, don’t you? It means lots of great big barra coming up the rivers to eat them… cannibals that they are.

Leila Bartolo reckons she caught her first metery at 103cm down the Daly River thanks to her lucky Staunch Crab shirt and Raptor Kamikaze lure.


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