Alex's Column 14/1/21

Following an early monsoonal burst across the Top End, the first runoff window of opportunity occurred over the last couple of weeks.

I’ve already reported on the action upstream on a very-shallow South Alligator River, but can add that quite a few boats scored barra by drifting and flicking to the tannin-coloured water.

Perhaps the best news is that Shady Camp fired up during the recent set of neap tides.

According to Fishing and Outdoor World’s George Voukolos, there were some terrific barra caught down at the mouth of Sampan Creek for several days during the early incoming tide.

“Big green Bombers did the most damage,” George said.

“Reel Screaming Barra Charters has been killing it, and there have been lots of barra in the 90s caught.”

I’m not surprised – the water level at the Mary River Bridge Lagoon was way up the boat ramp 10 days ago, and it was all heading one way: down to the Mary River mouth.

The Finniss River may also fire up soon – there’s a huge amount of water pouring out of its mouth.

Meanwhile, down at the Daly River, dropping water levels have prompted a bit of a bite.

Old mate Stuey Brisbane of Daly River Barra Resort charters has been putting clients onto barra up to the low 70s.

Stuey’s success has been at feeder creek mouths flicking soft plastics.

“Last Sunday we caught seven barra in the morning using Reidy’s Gold Shad-coloured softies.

“Live bait didn’t work as it only produced sharks and catfish,” Stuey told me from his bed as the poor bugger is convalescing after a hernia operation this week.

You won’t see him on the river for a while.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the Top End, some serious big barra action has been taking place.

Pat Laverty and his family were fishing the Cato River in Eastern Arnhem Land and were enjoying a good session on the barra when Pat hooked a great fish.

After battling it, the job of netting the beauty fell to Pat's 16-year-old son, Jim Laverty, who's had plenty of practice netting big fish.

With the big girl safely on board, she measured 121cm before she was released and swam away.

It was Pat's first metery after 45 years living and fishing in the Top End, and what a beauty it was.

It’s great that some early runoff action has taken place, and there’ll be more this weekend for sure.

However, according to the Bureau of Metreology, any rainfall will be from humidity-related storms and not monsoonal.

Hopefully, the wet season will get going again soon.

Typically, after the first monsoonal burst, the floodplains have soaked in the water, perhaps flooding to a minimal extent, and the second serious bout of rainfall will cause the serious flooding we need for a great Runoff to follow.

In the absence of a monsoon this weekend, you might want to consider a Darwin Harbour or Bynoe Harbour trip as the tides are nicely in their spring tide phase.

Alternatively, there’s merit in heading offshore and chasing golden snapper.

They’ve been on the bite big time, including in close around Charles Point.

The dampener has been the unprecedented congregation of sharks in the area.

I heard one report that the grey coats are even hanging under boats ready to snaffle incoming prized reef fish.

The prevalence of sharks on our offshore reefs has been increasing in leaps and bounds in recent years.

I understand there hasn’t been any dedicated commercial shark fishing in Top End waters for a long time now.

Maybe that’s something NT Fisheries can look at developing.

When there are that many out there, surely there’s a market somewhere worth targeting.

Failing that, in the interests of helping the recreational fishery, both offshore and in the tidal rivers, maybe a contract can be awarded to get a team culling sharks.


Pat Laverty with his 121cm barra-of-a-lifetime from the Cato River.

Pat’s son, Jim Laverty, makes no mistake with the net.