Report: Barra Lotto in the run-off

WE’VE had a promising lot of rain to kick off 2015 in the Northern Territory, with enough to get the rivers flowing and fill the flood plains. Nothing gets the NT barra fishos (and interstate fishos) fired up more than lots and lots of rain early in the year.

The two main rivers of interest to most Darwin people are the Daly River and the Mary river system (Tommy Cut, Sampan and the coastal creeks that flow into Chambers Bay). Both river systems have had good water rises but a lack of any decent back-up rains of late are seeing water levels falling already. I’ve been to Shady Camp a couple of times recently and was surprised at the amount of water flowing over the barrage. Already it’s getting hard to retrieve your boat at low tide, especially for the bigger boats but this hasn’t deterred large amounts of people descending on the waterway on the neap tides in pursuit of the big barra to be found at the mouths of Sampan and Tommy Cut.

The fishing for metre-plus barra has been exceptional over the past few weeks with local newspapers running heaps of photos of happy anglers holding big “metries”. Social media sites such as Facebook are full of photos and stories of the successful trips of many others.

I went for a run-down Shady Camp yesterday (Feb 15) with a couple of mates and was surprised at the amount of cars that were already in the car park. With no hint of sunrise to be seen in any direction, all the normal parks were taken and I had to park the car on the side of the road a good 600 metres from the water. There was probably close to 100 cars with trailers attached either parked or waiting in line to launch. It was quite a shock to someone who has just spent the last five years living in the bush where the only time we had to wait at the boat ramp was when the barge was in doing its weekly drop off!


Boats on the troll rolling the dice in “barra Lotto.”

When we arrived at the mouth of Sampan, there were at least 40 odd boats engaged in what’s become known as “barra Lotto”. We joined the trolling run with the rest of the armada and I was surprised at how civil and polite people were. I never saw one case of lures becoming entangled with another boat’s and everyone gave people who were hooked up enough space to fight and land their fish – and there was quite a bit of hooking up going on.

There were enough barra and threadies there on the outgoing tide that at most times you looked around someone was fighting a fish. We did ok and landed five barra up to 82cm and several threadies. We saw 105cm and 116cm barras landed along with lots of great threadies and a stack of barra in the 70cm to 90cm range also landed by many of the boats involved in the Lotto run.

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Scott Simms (top) and “Iffy” Furness landed these nice threadies while trolling the mouth of Sampan Creek.

The Daly River has started to fish ok as well with reports of some boats landing anywhere between 10 to 30 barra an outing. That’s where I’ll head next outing.

There’s a big low pressure system moving our way as I write this and a cyclone looks to be forming some time mid-week that will have all fishos hoping for another good dumping of rain to top the rivers up and prolong our run-off a bit longer. The experts are also saying there’s another chance of a cyclone forming in early March.

Hopefully both bring a heap more rain for us over the next few weeks. It can only make the run-off fishing better! Stay tuned.

Warren “Wazza” Smith is a highly experienced Darwin-based fishing guide.

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