Alex's Column 17/02/2022

It looks like we’re getting a window in the wet season, which means potential runoff fishing at several locations.

However, one area that can fish extremely well during a break in the Wet is right on Darwin’s doorstep: Shoal Bay

Because it is so shallow and not navigable on anything less than half tide, there is nothing quite like the Shoal Bay system.

It’s a vast estuary with several creeks and one small river: the Howard.

You get to Shoal Bay via the concrete boat ramp at Buffalo Creek which is not only a popular family fun spot but also a metro creek that has produced some truly big barra.

After you launch, head north to the creek mouth and exit into Shoal Bay.

This is best done around high tide when there is sufficient water to get out and get to where you’re going.

The big tides this weekend are perfect for a not-too-early launch.

The next creek heading into Shoal Bay along its southern coastline is Micket Creek.

For as long as I can remember, Micket has been largely ignored by the Darwin angling fraternity.

Like all the creeks in Shoal Bay, on most low tides it dries up into a series of holes and very shallow channels that you can’t motor a boat along.

However, if you find a nice hole that is at least 2m deep at low tide, and lock yourself in it intentionally, you might just be surprised by the quality of barramundi you encounter.

King Creek is the next one along heading deeper into Shoal Bay.

Unlike Micket, it is a popular location that fishes well at its two mouths, and also up inside in the deeper holes at low tide.

It’s not far from King Creek to the Howard River and adjoining Little Howard River.

The Howard is virtually at the apex of Shoal Bay, and there are some terrific holes up inside it to fish on the bottom half of the tide.

There is one hole that is long enough to troll, and that can work big time at this spot.

The Little Howard is similar to the aforementioned creeks, and from there you boat along the bottom of Shoal Bay to Tree Point Inlet which is not much smaller than the main Howard River itself.

It too has its share of holes at low tide, a couple long enough to troll.

Good tides to fish the creeks and little rivers of Shoal Bay are from about 6m-plus down to about 1-1.5m; once again, ideal for this weekend.

You need to pick the precise spot you intend to go to and get out of Buffalo Creek no more than an hour after high tide.

Once the tide drops below halfway, moving around is not an option, expect maybe if you have a small tinny that you can push through the shallows.

The best holes are those where you can beach your boat and stand on the mud casting to a deep section along the opposite bank.

If there are a few snags along the deeper section, all the better.

All shallow-to-medium-diving lures can work but, if it’s too snaggy, weedless soft plastics are the go.

If you can throw a cast net, take it with you and catch some mullet for live bait which is deadly in the holes up inside Shoal Bay.

One last spot to think about is the famous Shoal Bay Rock which is not far outside the entrance to Tree Point Inlet.

Over the decades, The Rock has yielded many hundreds of metre-plus barra.

In the early days, most fishing was from The Rock itself but that changed as boats got bigger and more comfortable, and everyone began fishing afloat.

Big barra visit there at this time of year.


Big barra, like this ripper silver fish that attacked AJ’s Classic 120 in Ghost Green colour, are worth targeting at Shoal Bay during windows in the Wet.