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Alex's Column 8 December 2023

I’ve written it up before but, for my money, there’s no better estuary barra tide than a making spring.

That’s exactly what we have this weekend and the beauty is that there is enough variance between Saturday’s and Sundays’s tides that several locations come into play.

In Darwin Harbour on Saturday, the low tide is a bit over 2 metres at 9.48am.

Coming off a 5.6m high tide, there is not a huge amount of water movement, but enough to get the food chain activated.

Remembering that a $10,000 Sportsbet tagged barra has already been caught there this season, one area worth a shot on Saturday is Shoal Bay.

You’ll need to launch at Buffalo Creek at sparrows – or earlier if you’re game – so you can get out the mouth and across the bay to fish places like King Creek, Howard River, Little Howard, and the famous Shoal Bay Rock.

Once you’ve reached your chosen spot, be prepared to stick it out through low tide, trying out various fishing options.

In respect of The Rock, in the old days, we’d all pull up to The Rock in our boats, tie off and fish from The Rock itself.

No one does that anymore, most likely because the boats these days are all big and comfortable… and have fancy wraps which can get scratched by exposed rocks.

Most Rock fishos either cast from their boats or troll.

If trolling is you preferred technique, use your electric outboard if you have one; the water is fairly shallow and barra can be spooked by the noise of a petrol outboard.

My favourite Rock lure is the Killalure Barra Bait in natural colours, but there are plenty of other lures that catch fish at this popular location.

A huge sand bar has built up on the mainland on the northern side of The Rock and there’s not much channel in the middle.

Consequently, the best fishing in recent years has been on the Darwin side of The Rock, especially as the tide starts to come in.

If you get on to them, expect quality.

By mid-afternoon, you should be safely back at the Buffalo Creek boat ramp.

Another spot worth trying on Saturday’s tide is Leaders Creek in the afternoon.

High tide is late in the afternoon so two or three hours spent trolling near the mouth from mid-tide to the top could yield a nice barra or two.

Troll from the mouth on the eastern side for about a kilometre and then back and forth.

Use your sounder and try and work the ledge at about 3-5m depth using Classic 120s 10+ and 15+.

If you hook something that tears off at a million miles an hour but doesn’t jump, don’t worry because it won’t be a barra… it’ll be a thumping black jew for sure.

Sunday’s low tide of 1.9m just after 10.30am is more suited to Darwin Harbour and Bynoe Harbour, where Million Dollar Fish have been caught already this season.

At both locations, you’ll need to be on the water by 7.00am so you can hit the flats and drains before the water gets too low.

Once the tide turns to come in, get ready for a brief window of opportunity as the water rises on the flats and into the drains.

Look for the bait and work hard and fast before the tide reaches the mangroves and it’s all over.

Bombers, Junior B52s, Classic Just Unders and Killalure Terminators are hard-body lures that all work in Darwin and Bynoe Harbours and their arms.

Soft plastic prawn imitations also catch plenty.

Arnhem Land Barramundi Lodge guide, Vinnie Versefield, with Darwin’s Cathie Bassett who attended Arnhem Land Fly Fishing Week.

Richard Tung and three fellow keen anglers came all the way from Taiwan to participate in Arnhem Land Fly Fishing Week.


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