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Alex's Column 29/12/2022

It’s no surprise that I am writing about the weather at this time of year; it’s an annual event really because the quality of the forthcoming Runoff fishing is dependent on the preceding Build-up and wet season.

Some years, I am writing about how great it is that we have had an early burst of heavy rain during the Build-up and all the big river catchments are flooding nicely.

Other years, I am writing about how much we need the wet season to get going and hopefully it won’t be too far away.

This year it’s been an each-way bet.

While November was the seventh wettest on record for Darwin, December was hot and dry for days on end.

Of course, Cyclone Ellie changed things dramatically when it came pelting down the Joseph Boneparte Gulf, making landfall in dramatic style, and delivering a deluge to the Victoria River district in particular.

While Darwin and outlying areas received plenty of rain last week, Victoria River and the tiny township of Timber Creek went into a 1-in-50 year flood.

Timber Creek was evacuated as a consequence which was sad for those residents.

On a positive note, when the floods begin to dissipate and the river starts falling, there’ll be some excellent runoff barra fishing in the tidal sections.

There might also be some good fishing not too far ahead down the Daly River where the crossing is running 5-6m and falling.

Meanwhile the low pressure system that was Cyclone Ellie is forecast to move back to the north-west, so more rain for the Top End is well on the cards.

According to the Bureau of Metreology: “Multi-week forecasts indicate atmospheric conditions will likely become significantly more favourable for rainfall across northern Australia in the coming fortnight. There are indications that monsoonal conditions, widespread rainfall and cooler weather may develop near northern Australia.”

Notwithstanding, the bottom line is that, just after New Year, there should be plenty of opportunities to go fishing.

I won’t go into the blue water options because the chances are there will be strong northerlies offshore, and still plenty of storm activity; you’ll need to suck and see before you head out on the blue.

However, there could be some great barra fishing available in places where enough rain fell to give a window of runoff opportunity – the first for the season.

I’ve written about this before; ie the sudden but brief opportunity created when a tidal river floods after heavy rain, then the rain stops and the floodwaters recede.

As predicted above, the Daly River is sure to have some feeder creeks flowing in the early New Year.

The only thing is that they may be flowing dirty water out of the creeks, not the clearer, dark-stained water that can lead to great barra-fishing sessions.

If there is one feeder creek I’d be checking out down the Daly, it’s Bamboo Creek.

Bamboo is often the first to produce in a scenario like we’ve just had, and often with big barra, but make sure you hit it on the bigger tides.

However, it won’t hurt to wander down the Daly looking for colour changes, especially those with bait working.

But remember that the lower tidal section below Moon Billabong outlet is closed to fishing from 1 October to end February.

As far as accommodation goes, most van parks along the Daly are usually closed during the wet season, but you might like to try Daly River Barra Resort.

One place that is bound to get hammered in the holiday break is the tidal Mary River.

I guarantee there will be dozens and dozens of anglers rubbing their hands together in anticipation of a shot at some big barra action down the mouth of the Mary where Sampan Creek pours into Chambers Bay.

For anglers looking for an easy day trip option, Adelaide River is always worth exploring after the first serious rains, both down around the mouth and way upstream.

Now, if all else fails, and the sun rises and cooks later next week, there are great tides to fish Darwin Harbour.

That really could be worth doing early January after a monsoonal burst.

Make sure you have a safe and happy New Year, catch a few fish if you get the chance, and check for red tags on your barras.

If there’s a break in the weather, Spanish mackerel like this beauty caught by Chris Kolar are definitely on the cards offshore from Darwin.


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