Report: Stranded Hook, Line & Sinker on the Daly

I’D been waiting for a chance to go for a run down the Daly River this year and with last Friday off a plan was put in motion. Coming along for the day were Andrew Hart, Nick Duigan and cameraman Mike from the great Aussie fishing show Hook Line and Sinker.

I picked the boys up early for the three hour drive to the river where we were going to spend the night at Mango Farm. It had been many years since I had visited the Mango Farm and I’d forgotten what a great place to stay it is – comfy beds in air-conditioned rooms, set amongst park-like grounds. There’s even a swimming pool to lay in at the end of the day. Mango Farm also has a new owner who has plans to expand the accommodation with new self-contained units.


A dip in the pool at the Mango Farm is a welcome relief after a long day’s fishing in the tropical heat.

Long-time friend Shane Taylor was also putting his boat in to join us for the day and it wasn’t long before we were running down a rather dirty looking Daly.

Our rather ordinary wet season has not improved a whole lot in recent weeks but there had been enough reports coming from anglers fishing the Daly to make us feel confident of finding a few fish. The plan was to run down to Clear Creek and catch the start of the run-out tide and slowly fish our way back up the river as the tide dropped out. It had been several years since I’d fished the Daly and although the river height was up a bit I was trying hard to remember where all the rock bars and sand bars were located. The run down the river on high tide was uneventful but I wasn’t so lucky on the homeward journey but more on that later…

On the run down, the signs were promising with lots of good colour changes at most of the Daly hot spots. Charlies, No Fish, Elizabeth and most other creeks all the way down to Clear had nice colour changes at their mouths.

It’s hard to run straight past good looking water but we had a plan and that’s what we stuck to. Well nearly … the mouth of Reed Creek looked too good and we just had to stop and have a go. There were heaps of mullet milling around the colour change and they appeared very nervous as well. Despite throwing an array of hard body lures and soft plastics around we came up with zip. I tried a popper and not long after had a barra come up for a look but failed to commit. We continued on towards Clear Creek with a plan to come back to Reed Creek when a bit of water had dropped out of it.

It didn’t take long after getting to Clear Creek before Andrew had our first barra for the day. Then Shane soon had another leaping barra attached. It was a great little session where we all got at least one barra each. All were taken using soft plastics with jig heads heavy enough to get to the bottom in the fast flowing water. We landed several barra before the bite shut down and it was time for a move.

I wanted to run downstream a bit further to a couple of creek mouths that had produced some great fishing years earlier, but when we got there it was close to low tide with hardly any water left in the creeks and no tannin stained water at all. We had a late lunch in the shade of the rapidly building cloud cover before starting the homeward run. We copped a nice refreshing drenching from the building storm clouds before we departed.

It was on the way back upstream when my out-of-date Daly navigational skills saw us run full noise into a sand bar. We came to a shuddering halt in about six inches of water … The three of us leapt out to try and get the boat back into enough water but although six metres didn’t look far we had no chance of moving the boat!


Uh oh … Nothing left to do but walk to the fishing!

I tried blaming the water colour and the angle of the sun but Andrew and Nick weren’t listening. There was nothing to do but wait for the incoming tide to refloat us. Luckily we had a couple of cold beers in the esky to help with the wait!

The tide dropped out even more and we got out for a walk on the wet sand. It was around this time Andrew suggested there might be a barra lurking along the lengthening sand bar edges. I was still feeling a bit dejected about our predicament when Andrew decided to go for a land based barra fish (maybe that should read sand bar based barra fish). After only half a dozen casts Andrew yelled out “Fish ON!“ and I looked up to see a nice barra around 60 cm leaping along the edge of the newly named “Wazza’s sand bar”. How good is that? Stranded in the middle of the Daly but still catching barra!


Beach fishing Daly River style.


The exciting sight of jumping barra never disappoints!

What happened after that was all a bit unreal as we went on to land five barra up to 80 odd centimetres and dropped around the same number. I then suggested it was all part of my fishing plan but Andrew and Nick still weren’t listening to my excuses.

I was telling the boys about the tidal bore that comes up the Daly on certain tides and said it would be wise to keep an eye out and not get too far from the boat just in case we got one on today’s incoming tide. Shortly after, I was sitting at the boat when I noticed what appeared to be a small wave a few hundred metres away. I yelled out to Andrew and Nick that the tide was on its way back in and to hurry up and get back to the boat. After a short sprint of a 100 metres Nick and Andrew got to experience their first tidal bore and how quickly the water level can rise. As you can see from the photo the boat was a good half a metre above water level but within 10 seconds of the incoming wave hitting the edge of the sand bar we were floating and able to fire the motor up and move on.

Lesson – don’t be too far from your boat when you’re stranded on a sand bar in the middle or the Daly River and the tide is due to arrive soon! Definitely would not be a nice feeling trying to swim after your boat in the middle of any croc infested Top End river.

Shane and Mike had wisely abandonded us shortly after our grounding and had gone back to Reed creek where Shane landed three nice barra to 85cm and saw an even bigger one come up under his popper. After a thankfully uneventful trip back to the Mango Farm boat ramp we got the boats back on the trailers and went for a shower and settled in for a few drinks while enjoying one of Margie’s great curry chicken dishes.

We had a bit of a count and between the two boats we landed 16 barra which we all agreed had been a great day’s fishing. Even the grounding had turned out to be a great adventure. I still reckon it was water colour and sun angle that made me hit it but I fear I will have to endure a few more taunts before that little episode is forgotten!

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