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Alex's Column 15 March 2024

To say that we’ve had a good wet season is to state the obvious.

Although a late starter, it’s been an amazing wet season and it’s still going.

Widespread river flooding has been the result – there’s so much water out on the big river floodplains that it’s hard to fathom (forgive the pun).

Like many frustrated anglers wanting to get into it, I’ve gone barra fishing five times over the last six weeks.

Mainly it’s been to Shady Camp which continues to receive the most angling effort in terms of numbers of people fishing.

The first trip to Shady, just after the Mary started flooding in earnest, was quite a success: we caught some terrific barra up to 113cm.

The second trip – also back to Shady – was tough going, with only a couple of small barra in our catch.

I love fishing the South Alligator River so, although I knew it was heavily flooded, friends and I decided to check it out.

We fished upriver and at the top we encountered an inland sea.

There was no bait in the river and the barra were obviously up on the floodplains.

Trip number four was aborted before we reached the turn-off to Shady Camp… the Wet was back in earnest.

Last Saturday, I was back at Shady with old mate Alastair Lau, fishing from his 6m boat.

Together with others, we sat at the boat ramp in the dark waiting for the rain to stop.

Come early sunrise, it was still raining so we launched anyway, getting drilled by the rain as we sped down the river.

I remember thinking to myself that I’m too old for this; it’s a young man’s game.

The plan was to exit Sampan Creek mouth on the Mary and shoot across to Tommycut Creek, the other tributary of the Mary.

However, black storms were threatening out from Sampan and along the coast, and there was even thunder and lightning.

It was an easy decision to stay in Sampan.

Al is pretty good at using his Lowrance Active Target setup, and I’m getting better, so we managed to catch some fish.

Ironically, our best barra came on the troll whilst looking for barra to cast to with Active Target.

Heading home it was no surprise to see water across the flooded Mary River Bridge Lagoon car-park.

It’ll be cascading over the main Shady Camp barrage this weekend, and there’ll be plenty of anglers heading down with the flow.

That’s because there are two fishing competitions on down the Mary from Shady Camp this weekend: round 2 of the Top End Barra Series which was moved from the dangerously flooded Daly River, and a monthly Palmerston Game Fishing Club competition.

Closer to Darwin, there was a whole lot of angler attention given to Darwin Harbour last weekend.

With 60 SportsBet-tagged barra now worth $1 million each, it’s not surprising.

The Million Dollar Fish competition wraps up at the end of the month, but the organisers have been adamant that someone will win the million bucks.

It’ll be interesting to see how that takes place.

Hopefully, some lucky angler will win by making the catch.


Alastair Lau with a typical Shady Camp barra caught on the troll.



A hefty barra puts on a great display during one of AJ’s Shady Camp forays.



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