Alex's Column 30/12/21

We had our fingers crossed and old Huey delivered over Christmas with the arrival of a widespread monsoonal flow across much of the Top End.

Really, you couldn’t have planned a better rainfall scenario.

What was shaping up to be a cyclone that was going to pass pretty close to Darwin never eventuated; it stayed as a low pressure system and pelted down over the Top End as it crossed to the east.

The rainfall figures for the week up to Tuesday morning are staggering, and not only because there are so many places that registered well over 200mm, but also because of how widespread was the rainfall.

The Daly River and its huge catchment upstream copped a fair pizzling and the river reached 8m over the old crossing in next to no time.

Following last year’s excellent wet season, this is a terrific start before New Year.

Hopefully, more monsoonal flow will eventuate early in the New Year and then we can be assured of a good Runoff.

The bigger the Wet, the more flooding there is and the more runoff that takes place.

The Adelaide River too has had a pelting, so that ancient waterway is also looking good for barra fishing next year.

The Mary River received plenty of monsoonal torrent, with Point Stuart getting 310mm.

It was pretty damn wet out Kakadu way too, with Jabiru Airport getting 204mm.

What we don’t want now are significant gaps between heavy widespread rain. Long gaps in the rain lead to lethal spikes in the fishery.

The worst Wets are those that arrive much later than normal, which was largely the case for the three years preceding last wet season.

The worst on record was the 1991-92 wet season which in Darwin recorded just over a metre from October to April inclusive, hardly more than half the average.

I remember that it hardly rained for the whole of December, January and February.

Massive fish kills were taking place right across the Top End.

At Corroboree Billabong, for example, there was a fish kill of barra in one stretch of the Rockhole that numbered thousands.

A decent monsoon finally arrived that year, but it was in March and the runoff fishing to follow was abysmal.

Many fish had died, barra tucker (including little baby barras which bigger barras love to eat) was in short supply, and the conditions you look for during runoff fishing were not there, or at best didn’t last long.

So what is a good wet season? As I wrote above, long gaps between rain are the enemy of the Runoff fishing-wise.

So a good Wet is one that exceeds the average and there are no long gaps.

It’s noteworthy that last year’s good wet season got going by mid-December.

There were steady storms right through the build-up and then the first monsoon trough rolled in and the Top End was pretty well in good flood by Christmas.

The scenario this year is not far off that… it just needs to continue.

Hopefully millions of barra fingerlings were spawned and recruited prior to the major flooding, and will now be able to move up the rivers if that is their choice.

You know what a big number of little barra means, don’t you?

It means lots of great big barra coming up the river to eat them… cannibals that they are.

Please have a wonderful and safe New Year.


Brett Scmidt bagged this 101cm barra before the rains came pelting in.