As you read this, the NT Barra Classic will be well under way. Yesterday was the first day of competition and it will be interesting to see how the boats fared with the low-river conditions. Old mate and top fishing guide Stuey Brisbane from Daly River Barra Resort said the river was as low as it gets at the end of the dry season. “The rock-bar on the bend above the main rock-bar on the Golden Mile is just about out of the water,” Stuey told me. “You can’t fish over the top of Harey’s Rock-bar either, not when the tide’s down anyway. “The public boat ramp is a nightmare on low water because there’s a 30 degree drop at the end and your boat trailer bangs over the concrete and rocks,” Stuey said. I asked him what the answer was and he said: “Well, they can’t pour concrete in the water so I reckon they should make a big concrete slab at the top of the ramp and crane it down and into position; it’ll need to go well out into the river.” Interestingly, there’ve have been a few solid metreys caught down the Daly over the last week, including three fish between 112cm and 117cm. Hopefully, competitors will get through the Classic with boats unscathed and a few fish amongst them. This weekend’s tides are big and getting bigger. Some good barra have been caught upriver on the South Alligator River and this weekend it could really fire up. The big tides suggest plenty of options in the top half of the river. For starters, there is still freshwater coming down the river. One option will be to fish the upstream rock-bars, which are where you are most likely to strike that big metre-plus girl you’ve been chasing for so long. My favourite is Leichardt Rock-bar, immediately below the mouth of Leichardt Creek. If you don’t know where Leichardt is, it’s easy enough to work it out because it’s the last significant creek mouth on the right-hand side heading upriver before you reach the sign limiting further access. The rock-bar starts about 500m to a kilometre below Leichardt Creek. The thing is that you can’t really miss it, and round the bottom of the tide you’ll probably see heavily-disturbed water where the ripping current will be streaming over it. The best time to fish this great spot is just as the current begins to slow down as the big incoming tide begins to make its impact further downstream. You can either troll it or spot lock/drift and cast vibes and soft plastics. Trolling has been the traditional method. Typically, at the bottom of the tide, and with the current slowing, you might commence with a lure that dives 2-3m. A favourite of mine is the good old Killalure Barra Bait. As the tide rises, you might switch to a Classic 120 10+, then to the same but with a 15+ bib as the water starts to really deepen over the bar. You can even catch barra trolling this rock-bar right at the top of the tide, but you’ll need to go for a serious deep-diver like a Killalure 2Deep or a Reidy’s Goulburn Jack, and troll with the current to make sure it hits the rocks intermittently. That’s really the secret to this rock-bar – and just about all barra-stocked rock-bars – when you’re trolling: you must get your lures to bang periodically over the rocks. The reason is that feeding barra will be holding behind little ledges and bumps, waiting for some tucker to swim by in the current above. I think also the noise alerts them and gets them toey for some action. Colour preferences are all about water clarity. A simple rule of thumb is that, the dirtier the water, the brighter and more contrasting the lure. As far as soft plastics go, the world is your oyster nowadays, especially with weedless rigs. Although you can drift and work the softies across the bottom, my preference is to spot lock immediately near structure on the downside of the current flow – especially if you have sounded up some fish first – and cast your softy as far upstream as possible, working it back down with the current so that it bounces over the rocks. If a barra sees it, it will gulp it down for sure. Other rock-bars which can be fished the same way are the Nourlangie Rock-bar about 500-700m inside the Nourlangie Creek mouth, and the bar in the main river three bends below Nourlangie Creek mouth; but this will depend on water clarity.
This 1.05cm barra caught by Mark Carlile at Seven Spirit Bay is not a fish to be sneezed at.
Leo Carlile got in on the act with his 86cm Seven Spirit Bay barra.
Laura Tolmay’s beaut golden snapper succumbed to an Asari Escape-Z metal vibe.