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Alex's Fishing Column 9 January 2020

Better late than never, it now looks like we are going to get a wet season after all.

The impending Cyclone Claudia is wandering on a path through Arnhem Land and across the Top End.

Hopefully it will leave a significant rain shadow and dump big volumes of rain on all our major river floodplains.

May no mistake that we need a good wet season, especially to make up for the lousy one last year.

Coinciding with the Million Dollar Fish Season 5 campaign, it would definitely boost fishing tourism numbers for the Runoff.

I know for a fact that there are many educated anglers interstate who are waiting to see if the Top End gets a good wet season before they decide on booking a fishing tour in the Runoff.

With Million Dollar Fish continuing until midnight on 31 March, and with another red-tagged barra caught last week, a good wet season would combine nicely with MDF to give added incentive for interstaters to jump on a plane and head for the NT.

It’s interesting that there’s been localised rainfall in parts of the Top End, and some rivers have risen already.

Magela Creek crossing on the way to the East Alligator River reached 0.6m, and the same height was flowing over the Daly River crossing this week.

In terms of fishing this weekend, frankly, I hope it’s a wipe-out thanks to lots of rain.

As of yesterday, Darwin was in the firing line of the tropical low, as it is expected to become once it weakens from a cyclone on Saturday.

However, according to the Bureau of Metreology, the chances of more monsoonal rain over the next two or three weeks is very good.

According to the bureau’s Weekly Tropical Climate Note: “Outlooks currently indicate an increased chance of average to above-average rainfall across parts of northern Australia in the coming weeks and months.

“The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) has been indiscernible for the last week, but climate models indicate the MJO will significantly strengthen and enter the Australian region in the next few days and track eastwards during the next fortnight.

“At this time of the year, an MJO pulse over Australian longitudes is typically associated with the development of monsoonal westerly winds and above-average cloudiness and rainfall for much of northern Australia.

“The focus of enhanced weather over Australia is typically greatest for the northwest of the continent in this scenario.”

I also spoke to Greg Browning, a climatologist for the bureau.

He said: “ Basically, we have a proper monsoon developing nicely off the north coast at the moment.

“The conditions for a monsoon burst in the next week or so are very good. “It should be a much better season than what we saw last Wet.

“We’re getting back to a more-average wet season, although it was a late start. “Hopefully, if everything goes well, we could see a couple more monsoons after this latest activity,” Greg explained.

This is all sweet music to Top End anglers’ ears as it is very positive for a change. Surprisingly, there have been barra biting in places, including at the mouth of the Mary River in Tommycut Creek.

A lot of fish were caught there earlier this week.

If for some reason the skies don’t open up this weekend, there are excellent tides for fishing Darwin Harbour.

These tides are what I call peaking springs and, with low tides just after midday on both days, it makes for a civilised start in the morning about 9.00am and a finishing time a couple of hours before sunset.

If we do get a drenching, keep your options open for some culvert fishing. Down Darwin River way, there are several culverts that fish well for barra with the first monsoonal burst over the area.

Then there are the culverts on the Arnhem Highway, especially the one just before the South Alligator River bridge.

With the cyclone predicted to pass over that part of Kakadu on Friday, an easy drive to the South Alligator culvert on Saturday or Sunday might pay off.

Of course, you could also go further in the hope that the Nourlangie Creek crossings on the Kakadu Highway are up and flowing.

You can bet resident anglers in Jabiru will be on to that.


Misha Deichmann was thrilled with her land-based big barra catch from the beach in front of Crab Claw Island Resort.

This is the Daly River crossing on Tuesday… water flowing over it nicely and ready for more flooding.


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