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Alex's Column 27 October 2023

We’ve got big making spring tides and a full moon this weekend, so that opens

a Pandora’s Box of fishing options.

Saltwater barra fishing is definitely a good one, particularly in Darwin Harbour

or Bynoe Harbour where you can bet there’ll be some Sportsbet-red-tagged

barra swimming about.

In both these large harbour estuaries, there are many small to large creeks,

sprawling mudflats, myriad gutters and snake drains, dangerous rock-bars and

semi-submerged snags.

All of these places are likely barra haunts, but tide and timing are everything,

and the tides this weekend couldn’t be better.

On these making springs, tidal movement is increasing on successive days; ie

the low tide is lower and the high tide is higher on Sunday than on Saturday.

The barra fishing should improve too because currents and water flow are

increasing and the natural food chain is gaining momentum.

Water clarity too is usually better than when the tidal movement is moving

from more to less.

Timing is the key to success.

Generally, I like to kick off a day in Darwin or Bynoe Harbours fishing mudflats.

Look for enticing snake drains winding back from the edges of your chosen

mudflat, and also bait breaking surface in the shallows.

Commence your fishing along the mudflat about four hours before low tide as

it will have plenty of water over it at that point in the tide, and you can work

along the mangroves using your electric outboard and casting preferably

weedless soft plastics into and around the structure.

Zerek Live Cherabin are good, as are Squidgy Fish Dura Stretch rigged


You need weedless lures because there’ll be sections with lots of mangrove

suckers; if you bury a hook in one of these, often it’ll be too shallow to get your

boat all the way in to retrieve your lure.

Fishing mudflats this way can be fun because you might also sight barra to cast


Mind you, don’t stay too long because the tide will be falling quickly and you

don’t want to get stranded high and dry for the next few hours.

The next strategy is to move off the flat to deeper water and cast to the edges

as everything – bait and predators – will also be coming off the mudflats as the

mangroves drain.

If you’re lucky enough to have agitated bait and snake drains combining, you

could well be on the money, especially if the odd barra is “boofing”.

Fishing mudflat edges from deeper water allows you to vary your lure selection

to include hard-body swimming minnows; eg small and medium Bombers,

Classic Just Unders and Reidy’s Little Lucifer shallow runners.

Once the window of water coming off the mudflats is over, start seeking larger

creeks and work gutters, particularly those with a colour change.

Also, don’t ignore any snags or rock-bars with at least a metre of water around


Any larger creeks that you can get up inside, cast to draining water or troll soft-

plastics ever so slowly under electric outboard power.

This is a situation where you might encounter a quality barra or two.

Dead low tide is usually quiet, and not a bad time to have some lunch.

However, once the incoming tide starts to gain momentum, it can be on again.

Basically, the approach is to reverse to tactics employed on the run-out tide:

fish the gutters as they fill, work the mudflat edges and get up on the flats next

to the mangroves as soon as there is enough water.

Once the tide has flowed in to the point that barra and bait can get well inside

the mangroves, it’s all over and time to head home for barra on the barbie and

a frosty cold tinny.

Bill Classon from the national television program The Fishing Show was in the

Top End filming recently, and catching his share of barra.


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