Alex's Fishing Report 29 June 2017
If you want to be reminded just how great the wet season was, just go fishing on any of our big rivers or freshwater lagoons. Without exception it seems, all these systems are chockers with baby barra, or “rats” as they are often referred to. What has happened is an outstanding example of all the ducks lining up in a row to create a super recruitment of juvenile barra into our Top End waterways. It all started last September when we had great early build-up rains. September is generally regarded as the start of the barramundi spawning season, when the big females and smaller males begin to gather at river mouths and estuaries to breed. I believe breeding generally takes place at night on big tide cycles, and the fertilised eggs float around for about 20 hours before hatching. The trick is for them to finish up on the wet, grassy mudflats. However, to survive, they need rain to keep their grow-out areas wet for when the tides get low again during the neaps, making the flats susceptible to drying out and all the little barra perishing. So constant build-up storms right through September, October and November kept the little barra in water and they fed up on insects, tiny crustaceans, miniature baitfish and whatever else was on offer. Come December, and an early monsoon arrived giving the fast-growing and stronger baby barra the opportunity to join flooding rivers and move upstream. The Wet stayed constant after that, with flood levels going up and down but always present right into April. It gave what had to be millions of juvenile barra the opportunity to cross flooded freshwater plains to the billabongs, whilst others remained in the upper reaches of the tidal rivers. What’s more, it was not only the barra which reaped the benefits of this prolonged, constant wet season; the tasty little fish that barra like to eat also bred up. My first trip to Corroboree Billabong this year was about six weeks ago, and the water was still up in the grasses over the banks in places. All day you could hear little barra boofing what seemed an endless supply of rainbow fish – the same as the ones people keep in their fish tanks. Only last week I was back at Corroboree and we caught plenty of barra but, sure enough, they were all juveniles. The biggest would have gone 45cm, if that, and I reckon that they were still eating rainbow fish because the only lure we could catch them on was the Tiger Lily Bomber 15A, which more or less matched the hatch. All these little barra now represent a year class: they are referred to as a 0+ year class. Next year, when they will be more than one year old, they’ll be called a 1+ year class, and so on. Mark my words, we’ll be following this year class for a long time to come – it’s just that strong. Can you imagine what the barra fishing will be like in 10-12 years time? There’ll be metreys everywhere. I reckon a good name for this year class for future reference should be: “2017 – The Year Of The Baby Boomers”. ………………………………………………………………………. It’s good to see that there are some big barra out there too. Old mate Trevor Edwards nailed a 117cm ripper fish last weekend. He told me: “What a way to start the day: fishing with my son Grant, with bonding time overnight at the mouth of the South Alligator River. “At 6.30 in the morning, we were 100 metres into the first troll and bang – I must say that the fish wanted to play. “It was extremely aerobatic for a big fish, with several full airborne dances. “Even at the boat, it gave us the biggest airborne spin I have ever seen, leaving the water completely within 5 metres of the boat. “Once in the net, we noticed just how healthy the fish was. “It was massive and so fit and good looking,” Trevor said. “A quick sunrise photo was taken and she was still fit enough to swim straight away. “For the rest of the day, we only had a couple of hook-ups with only a 40cm barra landed. “But what a great day on the water it was,” Trevor told me. Congratulations on a great catch. …………………………………………………………………… Just in case you didn’t realise, registration for Million Dollar Fish Season 3 commences on 1 July. This has been a highly-successful Tourism NT campaign, especially with CrownBet as partner. Once again, from 1 October until 28 February next year, you can fish for 100 tagged barra each worth $10,000, and one more tagged barra that is worth $1 Million. Check out www.milliondollarfish.com.au. PHOTOS: Trevor Edwards had a thrill and a half when this magnificent 117cm barra jumped onto his line whilst fishing with his son Grant down the mouth of the South Alligator River. Barra Baby Boomers are in all our inland waterways in their millions, and caught plenty at Corroboree Billabong on the Tiger Lily Bomber 15A. Miyoko Fukaya with a Corroboree “rat” which will be one of so many baby barra to watch as they grow year by year.