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Alex's Column 22/12/2022

I’m sure many of you reading this will be taking time off between Christmas and New Year.

This festive period coincides with a beautiful set of spring tides: from Christmas Eve to the middle of next week, there are 5m to more than 6m movement between high and low tide.

The bottom of the tide each day gets down as low as 0.4m, and that’s just perfect for the three western arms of Darwin Harbour.

Plus they fall enticingly from early to mid-afternoon, which makes for a very casual day’s barra fishing.

The closest of these three arms to a metropolitan boat ramp is Little West Arm.

Tucked away between Middle Arm and West Arm, this quite small waterway can certainly hold its own in terms of barra numbers.

Most anglers travel there after launching at Dinah Beach ramp or East Arm ramp.

My preference are tides between 0.5m and 1.2m – basically what we have next week – as these suck the bait and barra out of the creeks into the main channels.

Fish the flats on the falling tide hard up against the mangroves while there is still enough water.

On the incoming, fish the edges of the flats as the bait and barra move up through the snake drains.

Little West Arm can also fish well electric outboard trolling ultra-slow with prawn imitation soft plastics – work the deeper water just down from receding flats.

After Little West Arm, heading out of the harbour you come to the much bigger West Arm itself.

This is the favourite harbour arm of several gun harbour barra anglers, and for good reason as it can produce double-figure catches during the Build-up.

Low lows are normally the go in West Arm; ie under 1.0m.

However, in recent years, I’ve heard of good catches even on neap tides, and sometimes sight casting in the clearer water.

On the spring low tides, getting into the bigger creeks and fishing mangrove drains as the water is exiting can produce short but terrific bite windows, but you can easily get stuck inside if you’re careless.

There are plenty of sandbars and rock-bars in both the two waterways that form West Arm, so travel with caution.

Once again, there is no direct access into the system and most West Arm aficionados launch at Dinah Beach ramp or East Arm ramp.

Perhaps more so than with other harbour arms, fishing during incoming bite windows can also be frantic, especially along the flats.

The last arm heading west is Woods Inlet which is more like a creek given how narrow it is compared to the other harbour arms.

It’s very straight too, which may account for why it has so many wonderful drains to fish along its length.

Given its proximity to Mandorah, it’s a favourite with residents in that part of the world, and Darwin-based anglers generally access it from Doyles ramp next to the Ski Club.

As it is close to the harbour entrance, it’s never a surprise to hook onto a sizable GT or queenfish when chucking lures for barra.

However, there are often plenty of willing barra in Woods Inlet and, although spring low tides are the pick, they can also bite well on slow-moving neap tides.

Have a great Christmas and fish safely wherever you try during the break.


Gavin Bedford caught barra in Darwin Harbour fishing with Roger Sinclair on the recent spring tides.


There were a few threadfin salmon about too, mainly around the size of this one caught by Roger Sinclair.


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