There’s no choice but to talk about the weather this week; that’s because finally we’re getting some. It’s only a weak monsoon trough, but it is a monsoon at last. According to Bureau of Metreology (BOM) records, the latest onset of the monsoon over Darwin was 25 January 1973, so we were just two days off matching that and three days from beating it. As of yesterday, the current weak monsoon was sitting right over Darwin, but the main stream is running right across the north coast, from Arnhem Land all the way to Cape York. Importantly, there is a tropical low on the Torres Strait. BOM weather forecaster, Peter Markworth, told me that one of two things could happen: the low could move into the Coral Sea east of north Queensland or it could move down into the Gulf of Carpentaria. The second scenario could hopefully lead into widespread rainfall across the Top End, but it might also suck our rain away as has happened twice recently. I asked Peter what we need to get a serious pizzling across the Top End. “Ideally we want that monsoon trough well below Darwin, and we require a surge across the equator towards us,” Peter explained. “We want lots of moisture and warm air to come down over us.” There’s also a tropical low over the north-west Kimberley, and that could suck our rain away too. So there are lots of scenarios for lots more, or bugger all, rainfall over the next few days. Peter said there was a 70% chance of heavy rain over the weekend. Of course, the rain we are getting will encourage plenty of diehards to get out and look for some early runoff barra action. Shady Camp at the mouth of Sampan has already produced some nice barra. Leeders Creek too on the last neaps yielded some silver beauties for those in the know. Also fishing exceptionally well for good fish is the Shoal Bay system. I had a shot with a mate at the Adelaide River on the weekend; we caught a few but nothing legal. Should the rain let up over the weekend, the tides on Saturday are spot on for Darwin Harbour barra fishing; on Sunday they’re good for Shoal Bay. Mid next week is when you want to be thinking about hitting Shady Camp and the lower Mary River on the neaps, but that also applies to any of our big tidal rivers in close proximity to Darwin. It’s interesting how people’s fishing expectations vary. There’s a whole bunch of skilled young anglers who regularly nail metre–plus barra, but sometimes we forget that novice, up-and-coming anglers can have their day made more easily. Take Brett Cleary, for example, who sent me the following email and a photo: “I thought I would write to you and send a picture of my fish of a lifetime. “I have been wanting to catch a queenfish all my life and on a recent short trip to Darwin I got this ripper. “I caught him on a paddle tail soft plastic on high tide right off the wharf at Stokes Hill in Darwin on the 16th of January. “I fought it for over 20 minutes and had to get two young lads to climb down a ladder to bring it up for me. “It was 95cm long. “I was so proud – this might not be impressive to everyone but to me it was as good as catching a 1000kg marlin,” wrote Brett. Congratulations to Brett on a fine land-based catch.
Russell Hanton is never far away from the big ones. Russell reckoned: “It was your typical day of catching nothing – hot and just about over it – then Stephen Bennett brings out the sandwiches and this 119 happened… thanks Bennett!”
Brett Cleary with his big queenfish from Stokes Hill Wharf that made his day.
Jacob Lowe’s silver barra from around the Howard River came in at 103cm.