There’s no doubt that this dry season is shaping up to be a mainly windy one.
For most of last weekend, offshore you would have been struggling not to be blown out of your boat.
This weekend is forecast to be the same with 40kph-plus winds predicted for much of the coast north and south of Darwin.
Add to that the big tidal movements this weekend and the resultant strong currents, and it could be a maelstrom out there.
However, one thing we are so blessed with in the Top End is that, when the winds are howling, when the tides are huge, when heading out on the wide blue yonder to chase reef fish and pelagics is just not on, you can always go barra fishing.
At this time of year, the barra fishing options are endless.
Inland, the world is your oyster with great nearby waterways like Corroboree Billabong and Hardies Lagoon making for an easy day trip.
Further afield, there can be good barra fishing in magical Kakadu waterways like Alligator Billabong, Red Lily Lagoon, Yellow Water Billabong, Home Billabong and Mardukal Lagoon.
I’d like to add Four Mile Hole to that list but it’s still closed due to sodden floodplains.
Of the big rivers, the pick is upstream on the East Alligator as it’s the only tidal river section that will have good water clarity and a good chance of mixing it with a barra or two.
Let’s also not forget the excellent barra fishing conditions in Darwin Harbour on the big tides this weekend.
If you’re in a small boat crossing the harbour mid-morning on Saturday or Sunday, you’ll probably cop heaps of spray.
However, you can launch in totally-sheltered waters like Elizabeth River at the dual-lane boat ramp.
June is not the best month for harbour barra fishing, but I’ve heard quite a few reports of fish on the chew.
Ideally, to fish for harbour barra, you should try to be up inside one of the arms by 10am on both Saturday or Sunday.
Start by working the flats on any lee shore, either casting small-to-medium hard-body lures like the Classic Just Under, Gold Bomber or Reidy’s B52, or working soft plastics like the Zerek Cherabin, Squidgy varieties or Z-Man MinnowZ.
You can also troll any of the above staying just out from the flats in water deeper than a metre.
The trick is to go slowly, even on electric outboard power.
As low tide approaches, and the flats become exposed, you’ll need to look for gutters and drains with a bit of colour change.
If you can see agitated bait around these spots, it’s a sure bet there are predators in the mix too: probably barra but possibly threadfin or blue salmon too.
Generally, right on low tide is quiet time in the harbour arms but, with more than 4m of incoming tide scheduled, there’s every chance of a good barra bite an hour or two after the turn.
Once again, look for bait moving into the filling gutters and inside snake drains on the flats.
All the lures mentioned earlier will do the job and, by mid-to-late afternoon, hopefully you’ll have a feed of barra and you can hit the frog and toe.
Russell Manning escaped the wind and caught some nice barra at Yellow Water Lagoon, including this standout 75cm fish.