It’s now officially the Build-up, that wonderful time of year when both ambient and water temperatures begin to increase, humidity claws upwards, easterly trade winds abate and barra line up for a feed. The Build-up is one of the Top End’s two iconic barra fishing seasons, the other being the Run-off. It heralds the transition from the cooler dry season months to the approaching wet season when, in a nutshell, everything warms up and starts getting wetter. We notice it but, more importantly, the barramundi are paying attention too. It’s not that they have any choice; for them, it’s biological as the Build-up also marks the start of the barramundi spawning season. In the saltwater estuaries and river mouths, the big female barramundi begin to congregate, and smaller, mature male barras are on their scent. Both sexes are excited, and at times feed like there’s no tomorrow… it’s a formula for angling nirvana. Mind you, it’s not only in the saltwater realms that barra can fire up; those barra in landlocked inland waterways also get toey. Mainly they are males, some mature, some not, but all with that DNA that sparks up when it’s time to spawn. Already I am hearing reports of improving barra fishing in both the salt and the fresh. In the salt, I witnessed it myself during a day’s fishing in Darwin Harbour the other day. Mates George Moussa and Steve Sarev and I fished the flats on both sides of the tide, and found 15 willing barra, which is a tidy score for the harbour. If you’re looking for somewhere to hunt a bigger build-up barra this weekend, you could do worse than hit the Shoal Bay Rock, especially on Sunday. The Rock fished extremely well last Build-up, and it’s guaranteed to throw up a bunch of great barra over September/October. To make the most of the inland fishing scene, it’s time to light up your torches and fish at night… that’s when the bigger barra will bite with more zest. Of course, speaking of inland waterways, good old Corroboree Billabong is getting some traffic this week as competitors in the Secret Women’s Business Barra Challenge pre-fish in readiness for the big all-female competition starting Friday week. At least 40 teams will be competing in this great event which is being hosted by Palmerston Game Fishing Club from the friendly Corroboree Park Tavern venue. Surveying our huge recreational fishery on a regular basis is so important in terms of understanding it both for its social value and for its stake as a significant Northern Territory industry. The first NT recreational fishing survey took place in 1985-86, and that resulted in what was called The Coburn Report. Way back then, the recreational fishery was valued at $60 million, with the tourist component worth $16 million. There have been three subsequent surveys: 1994-95, 2000-01 and 2009-10. Considering the apparent significant growth in the fishery in recent years – and the social media factor – the announcement of a new recreational fishing survey just commencing is good news. Telephone surveys have already begun as part of the NT-wide recreational fishing survey, funded through the Territory Government’s $50 million investment in recreational fishing. Having up-to-date information on the size and value of our recreational fisheries will allow the NT Government to plan and support the sector’s growth into the future, creating job opportunities in the fishing, boat, tackle and tourism industries. NT-based fishos are being randomly contacted by telephone and asked if they will take part in a comprehensive 12-month diary program where they record their fishing activity. Later this year, the NT Government will also begin carrying out surveys at boat ramps to find out how your day on the water went, which will help provide a more complete picture of recreational fishing activity in the Territory. A final report from the surveys will be available publically, while all information provided by survey respondents will remain confidential. Minister for Primary Industry and Resources, Ken Vowles, said: “The Territory’s recreational fishing sector creates hundreds of jobs for locals and contributes millions of dollars to our economy, so it is vital we support and manage the industry into the future. “The recreational fishing survey will help determine the number of people who fish, where and when they go fishing, the species of fish they target, and how much time and money they invest in the activity. “This information will help us support and boost the sector in the right areas, to create jobs for Territorians and help the Territory fishing experience remain world class. “It is also critical for the effective, sustainable management of our fisheries, Minister Vowles said.”
It was an all-male generational affair when Colin Burdon, his son Nathan Burdon and his son Jacob Burdon caught this 86cm barra at Mary River Bridge Lagoon on a Reidy’s Little Lucifer. (Grandpa took the photo.)
Tom Grose with a typical Bynoe Harbour queenfish caught during the recent Top End Barra Series round four.
The northern rock flathead is a fish only a mother could love, but you catch them in our harbours and they are sure tasty.