Whether you’re trolling for a big barra on the Daly, flicking a plastic into the lilies on a Kakadu billabong, or chasing macs on the blue water, we’ve got you covered
The Barra Nationals on the Daly River last week proved tough for most teams, with fish coming on the bite in the last days of the competition as the tides picked up. Team Tackle World Revos won yet again, hot on the heels of their Kakadu Klash win on the South Alligator River.
Among barra fishermen, Tackle World’s Shane Compain has reached legendary status, consistently winning the Top End’s major events over successive years.
While daytime fishing was hard for Nats competitors, the Daly fired at night for at least a couple of private crews, with good numbers of mostly smallish fish caught. This is not unusual.
Boat traffic during the river fishing events can take its toll.
A former Darwin barra fishing guide told me last week he often observed fish go off the bite with the arrival of several boats at a rockbar.
Whether traffic affects the fishing depends on circumstances, as it is not unusual to have a good bite with other boats around.
Elsewhere, the fishing has been nothing short of excellent. Sailfish were about in big numbers in Fog Bay before the wind set in, with several crews reporting multiple sightings, hook-ups and successful tags. Mackerel were also around in numbers. For those looking for quality fillets, golden snapper have been biting well on the reefs around Darwin, and you don’t have to travel far. The same applies with jewfish.
With crabs also on the move, it looks like being a great year for Top End fishing. It is amazing what a good wet season can do. As I write this, a late low-pressure system was bringing blustery conditions to Darwin, and a little rain.
In reports, Fishing and Outdoor World’s Ronald Voukolos said the wind from the lowpressure system was slowing people down when the fishing was good.
“The mackerel have come on at Dundee and the sailfish run has continued,” he said.
“There have been loads of sailfish off Dundee, and mackerel from Long Lost to Sail City. The jewie run is continuing in Darwin Harbour, and there have been good goldie reports from Fish Reef and even grounds just off Nightcliff. “Trevally have been around the foreshores. “Barra-wise, our staffer Adam was out on the weekend fishing around Shady Camp barrage. They just hung around Shady Camp for their trip and caught quite a few, the best fish around 85cm, on soft plastics.
“Jordan Smart said his mate got a 96cm fish at Marsh Creek, but I have not had any other reports from coastal creeks.
“There was a bit of a fish kill at Corroboree Billabong, but a lot of the weeds have been flushed out and there are heaps of tarpon in there. The water is still high on the floodplain.
“You can get into the East Alligator River now, so the reports should be coming in.”
Craig’s Fishing Warehouse’s Matt Smith said there were plenty of threadies at Shady Camp.
“It has been a bit hard on the barra front, it is not going as crazy as it was,” he said.
“The spring tides seemed to fish better than the neaps this year at Shady — it has been a more typical run-off scenario.
“Even the big creeks Sampan and Tommy Cut have fished well on the top of the big tides, rather than the neaps. There is still a reasonable amount of water there.
“The Barra Nationals was a bit of a struggle at the Daly. I think it was the Easter boat traffic that slowed it down, because at night it has been fishing well.
“The Finniss River has been good, but it is getting dirty.
“Jewies and goldies have been biting well in the harbour.
“There are mackies and tuna rocking up already, with landbased GTs off East Point and Lee Point.
“Crabs are getting around. They have been around most of the year, but people are getting some goods ones now.
“Corroboree Billabong is open, but I have not heard any reports.
“The top of Shady Camp is absolutely chock-full of rats from 25cm up.
“The Adelaide River has been fishing all right upstream.
“It looks like it’s going to be windy for a while, which will slow everyone down a bit.”
Tackle World’s Simon Bochow said the Barra Nats saw crews catching quite a few fish upstream above Banyan Farm early on.
“As the tides got bigger the fish down the bottom came on a bit more,” he said.
“As the tides started to build the fish started feeding a bit better.
“Tackle World Revo’s biggest fish was only an 80cm or so fish — they got the numbers rather than big fish.
“The Adelaide River has been fishing all right around the upper rockbars and Beatrice Creek, with most of the fish in the 50s and 60s.
“Shady Camp has been fishing all right — it has been really good this year.
“And the South Alligator River is fishing well with loads of rats up the top, and the occasional big fish.
“The Finniss River is still fishing OK, but not like it was a couple of weeks ago.
“The harbour has been OK. Chris Rainbird saw a 90cm barra out on the flats, and caught a couple of smaller fish.
“There are a lot of jewies in the harbour at the moment, and tuna are around as well now.
“Corroboree Billabong has far fewer weeds now and there are a few barra being caught — it should be a good year for Corroboree.
“There were loads of sailfish off Dundee before the low-pressure system came through, also lots of goldies, trickies and reds — the offshore scene has been awesome this year.”
The Tackle Box’s Hugh Raeburn said he fished the bluewater last Friday wide of Darwin Harbour and found queenies and mackies on jigs.
“The biggest mackerel was 122cm to the fork, and the smallest 108cm,” he said.
“Then we did the Finniss freshwater and got some barra and sooties — there was still quite a lot of water out there.
“Shady Camp has been on and off. Some have no luck and say it has gone quiet and others have done really well.
“The majority of customers were chasing bluewater fish before the wind came up.
“Mates have been chasing tuna — they have been out the front of the harbour and wider.
“There are lots of little rat barra about at the Adelaide River. And the Shady Camp barrage is producing heaps of little ones.”
On the fishingterritory.com forums, the FFF Seadogs “Jewfish Busters” brag mat round kicks off on May 1, with barramundi also eligible.
Seadogs competitors are vying for a MotorGuide Xi5 electric motor, Garmin sounder/plotter, GME VHF radio, Reidys lures and more.
There is still time to enter — get into Craig’s Fishing Warehouse and grab a FFF sticker, then follow the easy instructions at fishingterritory.com to enter your fish.
Charli Hale with a PB barra caught in Darwin Harbour
Bring your camp oven, game meat delicacy and best recipe to the Game Getter's Banquet at NT Field and Game on May 13
Ashleigh Readett with a PB barra measuring 76cm caught off Maningrida