Reader Report: Daly River magic

JUST recently I returned from a fishing trip to the mighty Daly River, Northern Territory.

It is a trip which I have been doing regularly since discovering its great fishing potential in 1997. The trip usually consists of myself and good friend and experienced fisho Ray Blundell and other family and friends who accompany us on this long trip from Queanbeyan, NSW.

This year Ray and I were joined by my wife Leslea Gruber, Ray’s daughter Tracy, my son Warren and his fiancé Ani Kunz. The six of us fished from three tinnies for a period of two weeks during July 2014. The trip was very successful with us catching and releasing some fantastic barra with two over a metre, the biggest being 114cm.

I recently read Greenie’s article (Fisho, August 2014) and I agree with his observations of the fishing at the Daly River this year. We also encountered alarming numbers of cane toads which could be seen swimming across the river, the reopening of the gold mine upstream in the Daly River catchment and the short wet season. We also noticed that barramundi between 60-90cm were hard to come by; we caught more fish above 90cm than between 70-89cm.

In addition to the above observations, we noticed that the shark numbers in the river seem to have increased dramatically. We caught numerous fish with extensive pre existing scarring on the tails and bodies, which appeared to be from shark attacks.

When releasing barramundi, the sharks were waiting right at the boat for a tired barra to chew on. We took measures to stop this from occurring by moving away from the area we had caught the barra and releasing them into cover. It was such a common occurrence that I was releasing the fish with lip grips so I would not lose my hand to the sharks, which I have never had to do in the past.

We were also catching more sharks on lures than ever before. From our experience of fishing the Daly River for a number of years, the increase in shark numbers may also be attributing to the decline in barra numbers in the Daly River. It is commonly said at the Daly River that “If you fall in it’s not the crocs you have to worry about it’s the sharks,” but this year the sharks are more abundant than ever.

Generally we would also get by-catch of threadfin salmon, catfish and the odd jewfish, but this year by-catch was limited.

Nevertheless, the Daly River is a picturesque river and the river is still fishing well. People with limited time who’d love to catch a barramundi at the Daly River should get in contact with some of the local guides like Mousie, Nev and Stewy at the Barra Lodge, they are great blokes and good fishermen. We will continue to make the 8,000km return trip to the Daly River in order to get our lures in the mouths of some big barramundi that this magical river is renowned for.

We caught the two monsters this year (pictured) while the big tides were around and the water was unclear.

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Garry Gruber with a 114cm beauty that, no doubt, made his 8000km round trip from Quenbeyan more than worthwhile! 

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