Alex's Column 20/01/2022

Palmerston Game Fishing Club’s monthly competition this week at the South Alligator River brings back memories for the late 1980s through the early 1990s.

Back then, an annual fixture on the Darwin Game Fishing Club’s competition calendar was the weekend event at the South Alligator in either January or February.

As you can imagine, fishing competitions held at that time of year can be wiped out by wet season monsoonal rain.

However, when there was a break in the wet season, the fishing was often very good.

It was a whole different ball game back then because braid line had not yet arrived on the scene.

We all used monofilament line which was several times thicker than braid of equivalent breaking strain.

The heaviest line you could use and still cast well was 6kg, and game fishing rules back then revolved around line classes.

For barra fishing, line classes used were 1kg, 2kg, 4kg and 6kg.

Most anglers fished 2kg and 4kg, and boy didn’t we have some epic battles back in those days fighting bigger fish in currents and hardly being able to put pressure on them.

Monofilament was not only so much thicker than braid but it also stretched to the buggery when strained.

That’s why fishing styles like jig trolling didn’t work with monofilament: you’d jerk the rod and the lure would hardly react as the line just stretched.

That era was also the very start of the soft plastic fishing phenomenon.

Vibrotails and Mr Twisters had entered the scene, and they were ideal for the light line classes.

The most popular fishing style in those competitions was trolling the rock bars upriver, often against strong currents.

Nilsmaster Spearheads were popular on 2kg and 4kg line, and you’d let out more than 50m and troll upriver against the current, hardly making progress.

Casting lures at creek mouths and eddies was also popular, just like today.

However, the lure of choice was the Rattling Spot which accounted for some big barra.

Competitors in this weekend’s Palmerston Game competition will need to exercise caution at the boat ramp.

Last week I reported about the long mud bar that was back again this year, and making boat launching difficult.

Basically, if it hasn’t moved downstream, you’ll need plenty of water to launch and retrieve, and not get stuck.

Elsewhere, Shady Camp produced the goods for Jason Rogers and crew last Saturday.

“Melita and I went with the brother and sister in laws,” Jason told me.

“We boated about 40 odd fish up to 65cm, and they were nice silver fish.

“Trolling wasn't as good with most we spoke to only managing a few fish,” Jason reported.

Old mate Wayne Baldwin had his first day out chasing barra for 2022, planning to fish Middle Arm flats in Darwin Harbour.

“We were met with a 20 knot westerly blowing straight up the harbour in the morning, so we went into a little creek out of the wind.

“It was not really my favourite tide for harbour creek fishing, but we pinned seven barra on the runout, and didn’t fish the incoming tide,” Wayne told me.

Another old mate, Stuey Brisbane of Daly River Barra Resort, told me about some huge barra caught at the mouth of Bamboo Creek coming off the neap tides a couple of weeks ago.

“A couple of blokes were staying with us and fishing off the bank at Bamboo all night and sleeping through the day,” Stuey said.

“They caught barra up to 128cm, and there were several metreys.”

Now that’s good fishing!


Eileen McKinnon with one of 40 barra caught at Shady Camp last weekend


Patrick Wright with a silver barra from the Shady Camp session


Gavin Wright with his little Shady barra