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Alex's Column 5 January 2024

Don’t you just hate it when the wet season proper still hasn’t turned up by January.

By “wet season proper”, I mean the arrival of a monsoon across the Top End, and particularly over the big river floodplains from Arnhem Land down to Victoria River.

When Cyclone Jasper descended upon North Queensland, we all thought it would cross Cape York as a low depression system, reform into a cyclone and move across the Top End delivering monumental rainfall.

That’s what we hoped anyway.

Instead, it was a fizzer as a cyclone but still hovered over far North Queensland with rainfall bucketing down from Cooktown south to Townsville.

Notwithstanding the sad tragic circumstances associated with resulting floodwaters, it was a significant rain event that was welcomed by anglers.

So, what’s the prognosis for the Top End?According to the Bureau of Metreology website, 50-100mm rainfall is the best we can expect over the next week or two.

In the meantime, neap tides this coming weekend offer great barra fishing options on the lower Adelaide River.

A notable feature of the lower Adelaide River is a trifecta of big creeks along the eastern shore: Wiltshire One Creek, Wiltshire Two Creek and Wiltshire Three Creek.

These creeks are only a couple of kilometres apart sequentially and, collectively, they are known as “The Wiltshires”.

They are each several kilometres long with Wiltshire Two being navigable for at least 20km.

An interesting observation is that Wiltshire Two stops just short of breaking through into Chambers Bay and Van Diemen Gulf.

You can access The Wiltshires from two directions.

The quickest is by launching at Saltwater Arm boat ramp off Gunn Point Road, motoring down and out of the arm and heading a kilometre across open water before entering the Adelaide River mouth and traveling another 5km to Wiltshire One.

A submerged big rock-bar extends right across Saltwater Arm just down from the boat ramp, and you’ll need at least 2.5m of water to go over it sticking to the right-hand side.

It can be a bumpy ride to the Adelaide River mouth for a typical trailer boat, and a bit spooky in the wet season when there are storms about.

A few anglers prefer to launch at the Adelaide River Bridge ramp on the Arnhem Highway and belt down 80km to The Wiltshires.

The best fishing is usually during the last half of the outgoing tide.

Right now, with the predicted good water clarity, casting to snags and tidal creek mouths should yield some action.

Trolling too is a good way to fish The Wiltshires.

Not surprisingly, there are good troll runs just inside the mouth of each creek.

One of my favourites is the right bank heading up Wiltshire One.

Basically, the troll starts just before you lose sight of the mouth as you round a bend and goes for about 300m.

My best success trolling The Wiltshires has been with Classic 120s 10+.

Casting to snags is the usual weedless soft plastic option, but well-placed suspending lures like the Killalure Flatz Rat and Jackall Squirrel will catch barra in the timber if you fish them carefully.

An interesting phenomenon in respect of The Wiltshires is that they seem to take turns to fish the best.

One year, Wiltshire One might be the go-to creek and the next year it might be Wiltshire Two, and so on.

One of the beaut attributes of The Wiltshires is that you can boat a long way up each of them unimpeded.

Katherine Christophers’ beaut Spanish mackerel took a bit of squid as she wound it back to the boat.


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