The neap tides this weekend offer some interesting estuary barra fishing options. Today is a three-tide day and, if you’re reading the paper nice and early, and your boat and tackle are ready to go, there’s still time to hit one or other of a couple of spots that just might produce. Firstly, a launch at Buffalo Creek around 8.30 this morning will give you enough time to belt down into Shoal Bay and fish inside and around King Creek across the top of the tide. High tide is at 10.30am and some big barra have been caught in this area so far this build-up. King Creek has two entrances, but the main one furthest into Shoal Bay towards the Howard River is the pick, and the high banks below are always worth a troll or a cast. Don’t forget either that the seventh $10,000 Million Dollar Fish was caught in Shoal Bay recently, so there’s bound to be more about. A few years ago, a mate of mine caught three metre-plus barra in a session casting along the banks at the entrance to King Creek. I remember he was using Classic Mantarays which dive quickly and can be worked in deep. Of course, if it’s too late for you today, tomorrow will be fine, but make sure you get back to Buffalo Creek while there is still enough water to get out: don’t wait any longer than two hours after the high to get back into Buffalo. Another great option is to fish Leaders Creek which is renowned for producing big barra and jew at this time of year. If you launch there tomorrow morning at about 6.30, you’ll probably be eaten alive by sandflies. However, you can spray yourself for that, and then head down to the mouth and work the eastern side. Cast or troll the first few hundred metres from the mouth heading upstream. If you spy fish on your sexy side-scan or down scan, work that area. Leaders Creek mouth can produce fish at any time up to the top of the tide so, once committed, hang in. If you want an easy option tomorrow, the Four Mile Hole track has just been graded, and the track into Red Lily Lagoon was graded only a week or so ago. If you decide to go to Four Mile, make sure you leave the salvinia there; we don’t want it transported to other waterholes please. Of course, given the great billfishing on the last neaps, and fairly good conditions this weekend, a quick trip out from Dundee tomorrow could definitely be worth it. The recent 10th annual Darwin Billfish Classic held on the last neap tides again established a record, with 23 sailfish and three marlin tagged and released. The billfish tournament has a unique point-scoring method: points are calculated after photos and proof of capture are submitted after the tournament. This allows the boats to stay out the whole three days of competition, and facilitates long-distance travel to the best grounds… hopefully. According to co-ordinator, Peter Dienhoff, that’s what 18 of the 21 teams did this year: they travelled all the way to Mesquite Shoal off Bathurst Island. “Although there was plenty of billfish action off Bathurst Island, only three teams stayed close to Darwin and fished off Dundee,” Peter said. “Team Seafox (Kurt Williamson, Ben Maclean and Shane Moon) made the decision to fish out from Dundee and this decision proved the right one, winning outright Champion Team and Kurt Williamson also claiming Champion Angler. “Of course, there were plenty of stories of lost opportunities with dropped fish. “All the larger marlin were lost, some estimated at 100-150kg models, but strangely enough the only marlin tagged were no bigger than 10kg,” Peter reported. I spoke to Kurt Williamson and he told me his team lost eight sailfish, and also raised a black marlin estimated at 120kg which refused to take a bait. Runner-up team in a boat up to 7.5m was Team Mexico (Damon Michael, Theo Oostinjen and Joel Bassett) with the capture of two sailfish and scoring 1500 points. Runner-up over 7.5m was Meg II (Doug Saunders, Mick Carey, Tom Bix and Ken Roderick) scoring 3000 points for the capture of two black marlin. Champion Junior Angler was Mitchell Standaloft who caught one sailfish for 750 points. PHOTOS: 1. Darwin Billfish Classic Champion Angler, Kurt Williamson, with one of three billfish he tagged and released.
2. Team Cabo’s David Brooks (right) and Anthony Verkuylen with Brooksy’s Most Meritorious Capture sailfish which had a “short-measurement” of 210cm and was estimated at 35kg.
3. All the black marlin tagged were under 10kg, including this one caught by Team Seafox.