This last week has been an interesting exercise for me as I was able to fish for barra in both salt water and freshwater.
Three days staying at the delightful Crab Claw Island Resort in Bynoe Harbour gave me the opportunity to try a number of different locations on changing sets of tides.
Early-to-mid August is never the best time of year to chase barra in the salt or the fresh but, as I always advocate, they still have to eat.
My Bynoe Harbour stint coincided with the tides moving from late neaps to early spring tides; ie with each day the tidal range increased and, more particularly, the low tide was lower.
Flats fishing was the name of the game, and getting out of the wind was a big part of it because you needed to find lee shores where the water was clear and not churning.
On the first day, the best fishing was on the making tide; mainly because there were only a couple of metres of incoming tide and a lovely two-hour window to fish flats where overhanging mangrove trees held barra in their shade.
At the same tide, the slow-creeping rising tide meant there wasn’t enough water during those two hours for the barra to move into the mangroves proper.
Weedless soft plastics did the job, especially small ZMan MinnowZ in fluoro green colour.
In hard-body lures, the good old Classic Just Under in green worked best.
Come the second day, there was a whole extra metre of water movement between low and high on the rising tide; the window was shorter but the barra were more aggressive.
Interestingly, the earlier falling tide didn’t fish as well on the flats, but that may have been just because we were in the wrong place.
The third day was the turnaround, with a 7.0m high tide early dropping to 2.3m by lunchtime.
This time the best flats session was on the outgoing, and the fish were hungry.
Although most were undersize, it was fun fishing, especially as some barra were sighted first before casting to them.
Sadly, a stiffening afternoon sea breeze made incoming flats fishing difficult.
A couple of days after the Bynoe stint, I made my first visit to Corroboree Billabong this year.
As luck would have it, the trip coincided with one of the coldest days this dry season, accompanied by a stiff breeze to boot.
It was a hard slog, especially as I had no current knowledge of where precisely barra had been getting caught.
I fished from the bottom of the big lagoon, down to the Black Fella Island arm, and into the Rockhole.
I had a couple of visitors with me and we trolled and cast to many of my favourite haunts, coming away with just a couple of little ones.
No one else seemed to be doing any good; however, I later found out that, prior to the cold snap, quite a few barra were getting caught on slow-trolled, little 14A green Bombers.
It was pleasing to see how consecutive big wet seasons had cleared out much of Corroboree’s overgrown aquatic plant life.
There were still good patches of lilies, but there were plenty of nice gaps to cast amongst them.
I’m certainly looking forward to hitting Corroboree again when it warms up.
The Darwin Boat Travel and Leisure Show will be on this weekend at Marrara Stadium.
Darwin Game Fishing Club has received a $50,000 grant from the Territory Government to support the costs of running the show.
The money was granted through the government’s new $1 million Recreational Fishing Grants Scheme, which Minister for Primary Industry and Resources, Ken Vowles, announced in May this year.
“Investing in recreational fishing is an investment in growing our economy; in 2010, the recreational fishing sector was valued at $80 million,” Mr Vowles said.
“The industry supports jobs in regional and remote areas, and growing the sector will create more jobs.
“The Recreational Fishing Grants scheme provides funding for a range of projects that support the growth of recreational fishing, from educational programs and fishing clinics to habitat restoration and minor fishing infrastructure projects - things such as fish-cleaning tables and fishing shelters.
“The Darwin Boat, Travel and Leisure Show is a one-stop shop for fishing, travel and outdoor needs, and the perfect place to find everything you need to enjoy our great Territory lifestyle.
“Heaps of local businesses will be there, and my Department of Primary Industry and Resources will have an NT Fisheries stand with everything you need to know about fishing,” the Minister said.
Darwin Game Fishing Club Event Coordinator, Debbie Halpin, said: “The NT Government support was critical to the continuation of this event, which is now in its fourth year and will be focusing on Top End businesses, including Darwin, Groote Eylandt and East Arnhem.
“The Darwin Boat, Travel and Leisure Show will provide the community with the opportunity to find all their boating, camping and leisure needs in one spot, and will feature the biggest display of boats in one place in the NT.
“The Berkley Super Tank will again be on display and you will be able to see how barramundi react to lures in a 9m Perspex tank,” Debbie explained.
Interestingly, the Berkley Super Tank is owned and operated by a great old mate of mine: Mick Cook, aka Cookie.
As young teenagers, on many occasions nearly half a century ago, Cookie and I fished together from the rocks below Bondi Golf Course for mulloway.
Roger Sinclair’s big Bynoe Harbour queenfish succumbed to the new Asari Escape metal vibe.
Sleepy cod don’t get much bigger than this one which was caught at Corroboree Billabong by visiting PGA golf pro Jason Chellew on a ZMan MinnowZ.