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Alex's Column 18/3/21


There's good news re access to the Arnhem Land side of the East Alligator River.

The Northern Land Council has advised that, following consultations last week with traditional owners from East Alligator River, permission has been granted for recreational fishermen to access the upstream eastern bank (Arnhem Land side) of the inter-tidal zone.

In reality, this means fishing areas and conditions on East Alligator remain unchanged from previous years, at least until December 2022.

The NLC is holding ongoing consultations and meetings with owners of sea country along the Top End coast.

As usual at this time of year, there are mixed reports, and often as not it’s the Johnny on the spot who makes the big catches.

One problem with so much runoff happening at the moment is choosing your destination.

Some places only just qualify for day-trip visitation, but that usually means a super-early start and driving for a couple of hours in the dark.

One group did an overnighter to the East Alligator: they launched at the South Alligator, motored all the way down and out the mouth, and then ran the coast before heading up the East.

I’m talking some seriously-talented fishermen here – one was a top barra guide for many years.

Apparently they fished all the way up to Magela Creek and up on the floodplains, and they couldn’t believe how great the water was.

There were fantastic colour changes everywhere and they thought they were going to smash it.

The trouble was that no one told the barra; over two full days they caught just a handful of little ones.

Does this mean it’s too early for the East Alligator?

Well, unless you take the long, gruelling sea route, you won’t find out this weekend because the Magela Crossing on the Oenpelli Road has come up again.

According to old mate Andy Ralph, the Magela was down to 1m and then 70mm fell on Tuesday night and it rose to 1.3m and is still rising.

“There were a couple of 4WDs towing boats at Magela, but no one was driving through,” Andy said.

“The road is officially closed which means no compressive insurance if you get washed off... which happened this time last year when a Hilux complete with boat and trailer tried to cross at 1.2m and got washed off and ended up completely submerged 50m downstream!

“It’s better news at the South Alligator,” Andy reported.

“The big mudbar has moved down past the boat ramp, and it’s all-tide access now.

“Of course, the mudbar just above the bridge on the left going up needs to be watched, but it’s not a problem really and you can travel safely right up the river.

“There were about 30 boats at the South on Saturday, and everyone caught fish: mainly rats but there were a couple of big ones in Nourlangie,” Andy told me.

Fishing and Outdoor World’s George Voukolos said: “There’ve been some good catches on the Daly.

“One boat caught 30-odd at Charlies; there were lots of rainbow fish coming out of the creek and the river looked alive.

“The best fishing around the Daly is in the creeks to the west of the mouth; little lures are doing the job.

“There are still fish in the Finniss River; I’ve had some good reports of fish being caught trolling green Classic 10+ lures,” George said.

There’s also been some good barra fishing in the Adelaide River – both upstream and downstream.

Closer to Darwin, the harbour has been fishing well.

Jo Jamieson and her husband Murray Darker worked up their favourite spot in Darwin Harbour and Jo trolled up an 85cm beauty.

The silver fish jumped several times and thrashed hard trying to shake off the lure.

This pair of avid harbour anglers have had an impressive year so far.

Jo Jamieson’s ripper 85cm Darwin Habour barra shows you do not need to travel far from the boat ramp to catch quality fish.


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