When you are thinking about memorable barra sessions, you are usually thinking about the Runoff. However, at more remote locations, where barra can be left unchecked for weeks, months or even years on end, the Build-up can also provide opportunities to find concentrations of hungry barra just waiting to eat your lures. Seven Spirit Bay Wilderness Lodge accesses many small-to-medium mangrove creeks that can be home to prolific populations of barramundi, as well as a variety of other estuarine species such as mangrove jack, golden snapper and threadfin salmon. I’ve known this for over 30 years as a mate and I operated a small fishing tour operation in the same area back in the late ‘80s. I’m fortunate enough to have a business connection with Seven Spirit Bay as my office books the fishing tours for this upmarket establishment. It gives me the opportunity to visit once or twice a year, usually to get stuck into the amazing reef fish that you can catch out on the blue water jigging metal and soft plastic jigs. However, my latest trip was strictly to chase barramundi, and for very good reason: I was accompanying a Million Dollar Fish tagging team on a quest to tag the last of the barramundi in this season five of the MDF campaign. With one BetEasy red tag to go, on our last day we headed for a creek a fair way to the south-west of Seven Spirit Bay Wilderness Lodge. The creek had been a favourite of mine back in the day, and our guide was legendary barra angler and lure maker, Lance Butler. The tagging team comprised Bill Sawynok from Infofish Australia and Tony Quarmby from Tourism NT. When we finally reached the creek, it was much like I remembered it: narrow with large mudbanks guarding the entrance and a skinny channel to worm your way in before the tide got too low. A cyclone along that part of the NT coast a couple of years ago ensured there were abundant snags to cast to and to troll past way up inside the creek. Notable too were gutters draining tidal water as the low approached. It didn’t take long to catch the first barra; Bill was the angler and it certainly put a smile on his face as it was 70cm and the receptor of the very last tag in Million Dollar Fish season five. With that out of the way, more fish came aboard and two were tagged with purple BetEasy charity tags. Whereas the red tags are worth $10,000 each upon recapture, with one worth $1million, the charity tags are worth $5000 each with half of that amount going to charity. It was a lively session with double-figure barra numbers caught, the biggest a noteworthy 91cm fish which very much became Tony’s PB. After the tide change, the incoming flow caused the water to lose its clarity, putting an abrupt end to our session, at least in terms of hooking and catching fish. We headed out of the creek and onto the wide blue yonder, our focus now on trolling up a mackerel or two and jigging up a coral trout or goldie for the lodge chef to cook up for us at dinner that night. ………………………………………………………………… The final round of the Top End Barra Series (TEBS) will be held this weekend from Leeders Creek east to up inside the Adelaide River mouth. The tides, especially on Sunday, are neaps so there’s not much tidal movement. This TEBS round six always seems to produce at least one metre-plus barra, and I expect the same will happen this year. I’ll have a full report for you next week. Don’t forget too that Palmerston Game Fishing Club’s Corroboree Park Challenge will be held 11-13 October. This is always a great family event so check out the Facebook page to see how you can enter.
Bill Sawynok inserts the last Million Dollar Fish season five BetEasy red tag into a Seven Spirit Bay barra.
Tony Quarmby’s 91cm barra from Seven Spirit Bay established a new PB.
Legendary guide, Lance Butler, with a chromed Seven Spirit Bay barra.