It was just bloody magnificent spending Friday and Saturday on the Daly River last week.
Mid-June is not the best time of year to fish the iconic river but it had just opened the week before and I needed my annual Daly fix.
I traveled down with Warren De With who owns Rod N Rifle Tackle World in Katherine, a business which celebrated its 40th birthday last year.
With tides moving into neap phase, it was no surprise that the river was low, but it was also still quite murky on the Friday.
We fished down as far as Harey’s Rockbar, mainly fast trolling with big lures.
Noticeable was the lack of bait, although the number of crocs made up for it; there must have been 100 along the river basking.
We marked barra in only a couple of spots, and Warren hooked two, landing one small one not worthy of a photo.
On the Saturday afternoon, with better water clarity and just after the turn of the high tide, the Lowrance marked what looked like solid fish.
Sure enough, a big one latched onto my green Bomber but, as Warren powered the boat out, it buried itself in the bankside shrubbery.
We were about to go in to try and extract it for the skinny branches when it broke loose and came out into the middle of the river.
“This looks like a good one,” Warren said as the fish fought hard from side to side.
I seriously thought it was a metrey, and I was right: it was a metre catfish!
We discussed why the barra were largely missing in action, albeit that it was cold and in the middle of the year.
We reckoned it all came down to how silted up the Daly was.
Nearly everywhere we went was much shallower than in previous years, and it was a no brainer that the last couple of poor wet seasons were the cause.
“There aren’t a lot of holes for bait as well, so the barra will be where the bait is – most likely down at the mouth and outside the river,” Warren reckoned.
“Where you’d like to go looking for a feed – the RSL or the desert?
“The river needs scouring out, and that can only happen with a long, big wet season.
“The Katherine River (which feeds into the Daly) needs to run at least 15m high for a continuous amount of time to really move the silt down and out the mouth,” Warren hypothisised.
I couldn’t agree more – the river was fresh all the way down to Harey’s Rockbar, so it wasn’t a lack of water accounting for how shallow it was.
And, though very low, I’ve seen it that low several times over the decades.
It wasn’t just Warren and I who found it tough.
Stuey Brisbane from Daly River Barra Resort is also a long-time experienced guide on the Daly; he told us even before we started fishing that there were no barra in the river.
“Everyone went home early last weekend because the fishing was so bad,” Stuey said.
“I can’t even catch them on cherabin.”
It’s interesting that there was a Facebook post on Monday of a lot of nice barra caught at night over the weekend on the Daly.
However, the author was caught out by a mate who posted an identical image to one of those in the main post, and it clearly displayed a July 2017 date.
The author just commented with a “laughing” emoji In reply.
It just goes to show what some people get up to on social media.
Katherine’s Blondie Demarco with a ripper 98cm barra from the Victoria River.
Caroline Demarco fished with husband Blondie and caught this 80cm Vic River barra.