It was an eye-opener to fish Corroboree Billabong for a couple of days early this week. Water levels along the iconic lagoon were as high as you might expect after such a boomer, prolonged wet season. The water had a beautiful dark-chocolate hue to it, and it was incredibly clear, clearer than I’ve seen it in years. During the course of the year, I wrote that the only way the lilies that have been choking up Corroboree Billabong would be reduced significantly would be by a big wet season that kept the Mary River flooded for weeks. Well, that’s exactly what happened and the lilies are at least 95% gone, but with just enough to provide that aesthetic ambience that we all love about the big ‘bong. Another expectation that was met was the size dynamics of the barra population. All those bigger barra that have been trapped for years in Corroboree are all but gone and there must be millions of baby barra in their place. I’ve never seen so many first-year barra; fish that were clearly spawned down at the Mary River mouth before the wet season and made their way upstream during the prolonged flooding. And boy, weren’t they having a fat time gorging on the literally squillions of 3-8cm rainbow fish that lined the banks of Corroboree. Right through the day, you could hear the little “boofs” of baby barra accounting for the demise of yet another rainbow fish. We tried different lures but just kept coming back to that old Corroboree faithful: the 15A Bomber in both chartreuse fluoro and tiger lily patterns. Just how good have Bomber lures been this year? The three-hook 16A and two-hook 17A Bombers slayed the big barra at the mouths of coastal creeks from Anson Bay to Chambers Bay. On the fast troll at the Daly and Mary River in the tidal sections, the bigger Bombers in mainly green fluoro colour accounted for some wonderful big barra. And as I found at Corroboree, freshwater barra – even undersize ones – just can’t resist them. The main technique we used was to slow troll and jig the Bombers. Using the main outboard, I’d pull out of gear every few metres for a few seconds, encouraging my crew to jig their rod tips sharply as the boat slowed, and then I’d go back into gear before repeating the process. I also used my electric outboard for slower trolling, and simply depressed the “propeller” button on the remote to disengage and engage forward propulsion. We did see some better fish up to 70cm, but the little ones were just all too eager to smack the Bombers. On this trip, I spent three nights aboard a Mary River Houseboat with my fishing boat tied alongside, something I haven’t done for many years and which I intend to do more regularly. It’s such a great way to fish the big lagoon, and you really get to see a lot of wildlife in the process. On that note, there are plenty of big crocs in Corroboree and adjoining Rockhole at the moment. We had one that sat within 10 metres of the houseboat at night – easily spotted with the full moon. On a different note, the NT Barra Classic continues as you read this column. By all accounts, the fishing has been much better than the recent Barra Nationals, mainly due to the river settling down again after the latest solid rainfall. The blue water out from Darwin has also been going off, especially for black jewfish. Steve Compain of Arafura Blue Water Charters told me that guests have been catching jewies all over the place. “They’ve been catching 90cm to metre-plus jewies even on half-day charters,” Steve said. “Plus golden snapper around 40-50cm have also been on the chew. “This big wet season has really sparked up the quality of reef fishing offshore from Darwin,” Steve explained. George Voukolos from Fishing and Outdoor World told me that some huge Spanish mackerel were being caught at the No 6 Buoy. “There were three or four 50 pounders caught this week, so maybe the blue water will really fire this year,” George said. PHOTOS: Melanie Ottaway from Noosa Queensland was in the Top End on a NAFA modelling assignment, and caught barra after barra at Corroboree Billabong using her chartreuse 15A Bomber. Professional makeup artist, Claire Duncan, also got into the baby barra action using Bomber lures at Corroboree.
Stewie Martin smashed the big barra at the mouths of coastal creeks this Runoff using his favourite green fluoro Bomber in size 16A.
It’s It's no wonder that the Bomber lure is the biggest-selling barra lure in northern Australia.