I was chatting with a mate the other day who had just recently undertaken a trip going right down the South Alligator River, across to the East Alligator River and then right up the East. He and his mates fished the whole way there and back, casting to anything that resembled a colour change or a likely barramundi ambush point. Their catch was just one under-sized barra. We’re talking pretty damn switched on barra fishos here. It seemed the runoff that was happening in the East Alligator a couple of weeks ago had all dried up and the water coming off the baking floodplains was hot… very hot. Baitfish were conspicuous by their absence, and both rivers were just not fishing well. It’s a pattern that is slowly spreading across our big tidal rivers, with just the odd exception. Basically, there is no runoff to speak of, but there are still barra to be caught if you fish dry-season style: river mouths on neap tides when water clarity is optimum. That’s certainly the scenario this weekend, which is why the Top End Barra Series (TEBS) kicks off with round one at Shady Camp. Expect dozens of boats at Shady and right down the Mary River to the mouth and along the coast. The boundary includes the Wildman River, and I’m sure it too will get its fair share of boat traffic. Plenty of boats will also venture around to Tommycut Creek and fish both the mouth and up inside. Low tide there, and also at the mouth of Sampan Creek (the main Mary River) will be 10.35am and 11.45am respectively on Saturday and Sunday. Those are the times to put in your biggest effort, especially as the tides begins to flow in. That first push can be dynamite, but sometimes you need to wait until the bait arrives – ie mullet schools – and look for feeding barra with your fish finder. If a wave of barra comes through at the river mouths, it may well continue up the river, so don’t be shy about chasing the fish up with the tide. Another tactic that seems to be working is night fishing for barra, as is clearly illustrated in the accompanying photos from Tynan Bartolo. It’s quite a trend nowadays for anglers to overnight in their boats, fishing and snoozing as they see fit. It’s a good way to target bigger barra, and water clarity is not so important if fish are feeding on the surface… as is often the case in our big tidal rivers. ……………………………………………………… It’s Ladies Night at Fishing and Outdoor World on Tuesday 5 March. This has become an annual event, and it kicks off at 6.00pm and ends by 9.00pm. It will basically be an information night, with tackle industry representatives present, as well as a few fishing identities, all ready and willing to answer questions. The Marine Enforcement Unit will be there, discussing troubleshooting on the water, including how to change a propeller and removing line from around a prop. There’ll be some snacks and pleasant beverages such as champagne, wine and beer. There’ll also be some prize giveaways and special deals to be snapped up. It should be a great night for the lady anglers among you.
Staunch Crab apparel’s Tynan Bartolo with a 106cm of Daly River night-time barra.
Leila Bartolo wore her Staunch Crab hoodie as she grappled with silver barra on the Daly.