Talk about brass monkey weather this week – by golly it’s been cold. I reckon Tuesday was the coldest, something that was quite noticeable given I was heading out to a favourite billabong an hour before first light. With me was old mate Andreas Bischoff who was up here for last weekend’s 4WD Outdoors and Boating Show, supporting a team from MyCoolman portable fridges. These schmick fridges are new in Australia and I reckon they’ll be a household name before you know it. Also with me was gun female angler Crystal Neal from my office in Howard Springs. On the drive out along the Arnhem Highway, the main topic of conversation was the single-digit temperature reading on the Landcruiser dash: it went from 9⁰C all the way down to 5⁰C a bit after 6.00am. That’s seriously cold, and the problem is I can’t move any further north. When we arrived at the lagoon, the temperature had climbed back to 8⁰C, and thus still very cold for a mid-dry-season barra bite. But I’d promised Andreas a barra and we were going to give it our best shot. At a rock-bar we pulled up at for a first flick, the tarpon were hungry, and bigger fish were showing up on the Lowrance. However, our first barra bites came when it warmed up a few degrees. Mind you, the water temperature wasn’t too bad at 26⁰C. Although we flicked a variety of lures about – vibes, weedless plastics and small hard-bodies – the only way we could catch the barra was by trolling Reidy’s Little Lucifers. It’s funny how sometimes barra will only bite on the troll, even when you feel sure you’re casting lures right around them. Surprisingly, the barra were all rats, but better a rodent than nothing at all. It was an interesting day too from a nature perspective. There were a few crocs about, including a couple of big ones. One evil-looking bugger hung around our boat while we were parked in the shade having lunch. He was missing some of his top jaw. You’ll see a photo of him up the front of today’s paper or another one soon. There was also a family of wild pigs trotting along the shoreline; we were hoping one would get too close to a croc. Even a couple of buffalo appeared from behind a grassy knoll. We reckoned they must have been domesticated buffalo and were probably carrying ear tags. The bird life was really on show, with many 100s of whistler ducks carrying on at the water’s edge and then taking off in one huge squadron at the slightest spooking. All up, it was a pleasant day, and the old adage that it doesn’t stay cold in the Top End for long certainly rang true: by 2.00pm on the drive home it was 31⁰C. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… If you’re after a great feed of mud crabs, then be aware that the harbour arms are going off. Old mate George Voukolos from Fishing and Outdoor World told me that places like Middle Arm and West Arm, where you’d normally expect to catch three or four big crabs, are producing upwards of 20 big muddies in a typical crabbing session. “Just get out there on the early making tides, set your pots and get stuck into them,” George said. George said it’s really all about blue water at the moment. “There are some nice macs at Lee Point and heaps of goldies at all the closer-in spots. “Heaps of jewies too; we’re selling lots of bait and bottom jigs,” George told me.
As Crystal Neal showed, once the day warmed, lagoon barra eagerly took Reidy’s Little Lucifers.
The cooler dry season months are when you can expect to see the bigger crocs up basking in the sun.
Andreas Bischoff reckons that, if you can’t catch the little ones, you can’t expect to catch the big ones.