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Alex's Fishing Column 21 May 2020

The remnants of the Top End Runoff are still evident.

At Shady Camp on Monday, there was still noticeable-flowing fresh over the barrage, and there were some modest colour changes at creek mouths on the falling tide.

At the boat ramp, I heard of a 120cm barra being caught from the barrage last Saturday.

On the way down as the outgoing tide picked up pace, we checked out a spot where I’d caught big threadfin salmon a month earlier.

The big Lowrance lit up with fish on both sides and below.

With me was old mate Phil Hall and Becky Robinson.

Phil as usual was sticking to the principle “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”, and trolled a 25-year-old Mann’s 10+, a lure that hasn’t been available in Australia for close on 15 years.

Hardly 9cm long and quite slender, the little Mann’s has a rapid, enticing action, and Phil had about six strikes on the troll for two big salmon hooked and landed.

That was in the space of an hour and I knew the salmon would be thicker and hungrier later on the incoming tide, so we ducked down to the mouth to look for a barra or two.

It was not unexpected that strong easterlies muddied the water and there were no fish at all marking on the big HDS16.

Someone might have found a barra, but we did not see any being caught.

The decision to head back upriver and have fun with the threadies was not a hard one.

Once the tide turned, the big salmon went ballistic, and we even had double hook-ups.

Becky had never caught a threadfin before, and to her delight she banged several.

In the Mary and Daly Rivers and within Kakadu National Park, there is a personal possession limit of three salmon, but only one fish over 90cm fork length can be retained in a boat.

At least half the salmon we were catching were over that maximum 90cm length.

Sadly salmon don’t release very well and go belly up easily after a prolonged fight… and often that’s even if you try hard to get them back quickly.

I could never understand the necessity for a maximum nice on threadfin.

Mostly, they’re a bycatch to barra, and they taste so good why not be allowed to keep bigger fish.

A curious anomaly is that there is no maximum fillet length for threadfin salmon, and neither is there for barramundi.

We killed our limit of one big one, and managed another three for the boat under 90cm.

As I write this, the Bradley smoker is doing a great job smoking three shelves of marinated, thick, succulent salmon pieces, and another of juicy big wings… the best part of any large fish.

As a bonus, there’s a tonne of crab bait in the freezer!


Another big barra was caught last week, this one down at the Little Finniss River west of Dundee Beach.

It measured 118cm and the lucky angler was Carmel Poole.

Carmel and hubbie Warren had just finished lock-down on a Dundee Beach block and went trolling at the Little Finniss.

Carmel was using a Bomber 15A in the silver with yellow belly colour.

Right at the bottom of the tide, Warren caught a 60cm barra and then, as the tide started to come in, the big girl hit.

“I was excited and so in awe with the way it fought,” Carmel said.

“She put up a huge fight and I had lots of things hurting.

“When Warren netted it, we saw she was hooked on the top of the head.

“It was the biggest barra I’ve ever caught,” Carmel said.


Becky Robinson with one of several huge threadfin salmon she caught at Shady Camp.

Phil Hall has already eaten this legal-sized threadfin salmon.

Carmel Poole with her 118cm barra caught on a Bomber lure.


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