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Alex's Column 7/1/2021

The black tadpole run is something that happens spasmodically in the South Alligator River.

Typically, it occurs when there have been good early rains on the floodplains either side of the top of the river.

The tadpole run will always be associated with tannin-coloured water coming out of the feeder creeks and spilling off the floodplains.

Barra love the tadpole run which is why anglers should love it too.

Last week, I thought I’d have a look up the South Alligator because everything seemed right for the tadpole run to happen.

The day before, I learnt that others had already been up so I was able to get hold of some good information… most importantly, about the condition of the river.

Last year, during a minimal runoff event, the South remained shallow, and there was a huge mud bar denying easy launching at the boat ramp.

The good news was that the boat ramp mud bar had disappeared; however, a cautious approach was required to navigate upstream as there were some very shallow areas.

That was all good advice because the river was downright treacherous.

You basically need to go up on the second half of the making tide and get the hell out of there no later than an hour after the turn of the high tide.

It meant Phil Hall, Dan Campbell and I only had three hours fishing, but there were tadpoles!

Luckily, that was enough time to bang a few keepers and then be saddened by Dan’s loss of a metre-plus barra right at the boat. You can check out a short video of the big barra breaking loose on my Facebook page.

At this time of year, I love getting the latest Kakadu updates from old mate Andy Ralph who lives and works out there.

Andy reported: “Although in the middle of a monsoon break, Kakadu is still receiving substantial rainfall this week and, following on from a well above average December (300mm recorded), this has seen all the creeks and culverts pumping.

“As most billabongs are now cut off due to flooding, the attention turns to culverts: Nourlangie Creek bridges, South Alligator bridge culvert and Magela Creek have long been the saviour of Jabiru fishos with itchy fishing fingers waiting for the Runoff.

“It’s been long understood that the Jim Jim, Nourlangie and Magela Creeks are the barometer for Kakadu’s healthy wetlands ecosystem, and subsequent Runoff barra season.

“Pristine water thunders off the Arnhem Land escarpment and is funnelled into the Alligator Rivers, and with it are thousands of barramundi fresh from the billabongs, hungry and ready to feast on the array of tasty morsels the wetlands have on offer.

“Catching baby barra early in the wet season is normally the fisherman’s curse but, remember, without small barra there can be no big ones.

“But some big fish are still taken, with occasional metre barra hooked up casting lures at culverts and creeks; but remember: where there are fish, there are crocodiles, so be Crocwise,” Andy advised.


The Top End angling scene lost one of its most popular lady anglers with the passing of Sharon Crawley.

Amongst other wonderful attributes, Sharon will be remembered for her bubbly character and a smile that was always on her face.

If you didn’t know Sharon, you may have seen a MasterBait van pulling into servos and tackle shops to supply frozen bait products.

This was a business Sharon operated for several years.

She was also right into competitive tournament fishing, and I’ve seen her at several events, including the Secret Women’s Business Barra Challenge and Kakadu Klash.

More recently, she competed in the Airnorth Ladies Fishing Classic which is a big bluewater event held annually out of Gove east Arnhem Land.

I was over there covering the event for the media and I had the pleasure of sharing a house with her as guest of club president, Chris Arnold.

Sharon has been a regular contributor to Top End angling events, and was also an active “Eco-warrior”.

She will be remembered best by the people who knew her as having a heart of gold and a beautiful positive nature.

This column sends best wishes and sincere condolences to Darren and family for their sad loss.

A regular competitor in major fishing competitions, Sharon Crawley caught this beautiful barramundi in the 2014 Kakadu Klash.

Dan Campbell with one of his tadpole-munching barra caught up a dangerously-shallow South Alligator River.

Catherine Ralph with a typical culvert barra from Magela Creek.


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